Front Page

May 23, 2002

Drought upgraded

from severe to extreme

Emergency planning council appointed

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Drought conditions afflicting Pagosa Country and most of the Southwest have been upgraded from severe to extreme by a collection of federal agencies responsible for maintaining a U.S. Drought Monitor.

The monitor contains five drought classifications ranging from abnormally dry - the least severe condition - through moderate, severe, extreme, and exceptional, the most severe condition.

Cooperating to produce the drought monitor are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, and Climate Prediction Center.

Locally, Russell Crowley, the coordinator for county emergency management, appointed a task force charged with gathering drought information.

"I want to be ready in case the governor calls down here and asks if we are having problems," Crowley said. "I want to be able to tell him how many wells have gone dry and how many grazing units in the San Juan National Forest are unusable because the grass is drying up."

The intent of any questions the governor may have could be related to declaring the area a disaster area with the idea of obtaining federal financial help, Crowley said.

Crowley's task force is broad-based, representing a wide range of community involvement.

On the task force are Val Valentine, local water commissioner for the Colorado Division of Water Resources; Jim Shepherdson from the Pagosa Ranger District, U.S. Forrest Service; Gene Tautges, assistant general manager of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District; Jerry Archuleta, from the Department of Natural Resources; and Bill Nobles, the county Extension agent.

"My advice right now is to quit watering lawns," Crowley said. "If we have another winter like last winter, there is a big danger we won't have drinking water. The best thing happening here is the South San Juan pumping plant Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation installed. If they fill those lakes west of town, it will get us through this year. If the drought continues, getting through next year is another problem."

The U.S. Drought Monitor map shows most of the Rocky Mountains, northwest New Mexico, the eastern three-fourths of Arizona, and the southeast corner of New Mexico in extreme drought conditions. The map focuses on broad-scale conditions which could vary from specific local conditions.

Local indicators of drought, besides the obvious lack of precipitation, are low snowpack and water runoff numbers. April precipitation was only 35 percent of normal.

The majority of this year's runoff has passed down the rivers, even though peak consumer consumption has not yet occurred. The snowpack in the Upper San Juan is less than 13 percent of average. The San Juan is running at less than 20 percent of normal as gauged at the Pagosa Springs monitoring station. The river's peak runoff has already passed.

According to a forecast contained with the Drought Monitor, from May 16 through May 20, moderate precipitation was predicted for some areas currently experiencing dryness and drought, with one to two inches of rain anticipated in the mid-Atlantic region, southern Florida, and parts of the interior Southeast and eastern Texas. Light to locally moderate precipitation was anticipated in most other affected areas, with little or none forecast for southern New England, part of the Georgia and South Carolina Piedmont, both northern and southern portions of the Plains and eastern Rockies, and throughout the western Rockies and intermountain West. The dryness from the central and southern Rockies westward could be exacerbated by above normal temperatures, but unseasonably cool conditions are anticipated in most other areas.

From May 21 through May 25, the odds favor below-normal precipitation from the Four Corners states eastward through the south central Plains, lower Mississippi Valley, and Southeast, extending northward up the Atlantic Seaboard. Hot weather is expected in the central and southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley. In contrast, surplus precipitation is anticipated for Montana, central and northern Idaho, the Pacific Northwest, northeast Nevada, and central California, with cooler than normal conditions affecting the West Coast, Nevada, the mid-Atlantic region, and the Northeast.

Forest Service bans open fires on all public lands

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Open fires were banned on all San Juan public lands starting May 20, according to an order signed by Mark Stiles, San Juan National Forest supervisor.

The ban applies to all Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land in Southwestern Colorado, according to the Forest Service announcement.

Fire danger is considered extreme on all public and private land throughout Southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico.

Open fires are also forbidden in Archuleta, La Plata, Hinsdale, Mineral, Montezuma, Rio Grande and San Juan counties in Colorado and nearby Rio Arriba and San Juan counties in New Mexico.

Banned are all campfires, charcoal grills, wood-burning stoves and open fires of any kind. Still allowed are stoves, grills, or lanterns that use pressurized liquid with a regulated flame such as propane or Coleman fuel.

Burning household trash in 55-gallon drums or similar containers, even with a mesh screen, is strictly forbidden according to Warren Grams, chief of the Pagosa Area Fire Protection District.

Smoking is not allowed in any Forest Service or BLM area except inside enclosed buildings or vehicles, within developed recreation sites, or while stopped in a barren area cleared of flammable material at least three feet in diameter.

The possession or use of fireworks of any kind is banned on Forest Service or BLM land.

Violators of federal regulations face fines up to $5,000, according to the news release. Those whose actions cause a fire may be held liable for the costs of the resulting firefighting effort.

Open fires are also banned in the Rio Grande National Forest on the east side of the San Juan Mountains.

Fire bans are even more restrictive for the Carson National Forest, which stretches across much of northern New Mexico. All trails in the Carson National Forest are closed. Campgrounds adjacent to public highways will be open for camping only during the holiday weekend. No fires of any kind are allowed.

Widmer accepts plea agreement; faces jail

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

The Pagosa Springs man accused of stealing $161,000 from a Rotary Club scholarship fund accepted a plea agreement late last week.

As part of the agreement, John Widmer, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of theft in excess of $15,000 Thursday. Assistant District Attorney Craig Westberg said the agreement placed no restrictions on jail time and requires restitution of the full amount stolen.

If a district judge accepts the agreement signed with the District Attorney's Office, Widmer faces four to 12 years in prison. The sentence could be reduced to two years if there are mitigating circumstances or increased to 24 years in the case of aggravating circumstances.

Widmer had been charged with nine counts of theft, five for stealing more than $15,000, and four for stealing between $500 and $15,000. He was arrested in March.

According to the Pagosa Springs Police Department, the money was stolen from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, an investment firm in Durango, in 2001. The Pagosa Springs Rotary Club had invested money raised for its scholarship program in the firm. The club was subsequently reimbursed by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and that company took the case to authorities.

Widmer was president of the Rotary Club at the time of the thefts and a licensed stockbroker with Morgan Stanley. He operated a satellite office for the firm in Pagosa Springs for more than five years.

Sentencing in the case is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 30 in District Court in Pagosa Springs.

Two ceremonies give chance

to honor county's war dead

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

"They didn't want to go to war, they didn't want to leave their families, but when their country asked them to, they did, because they thought it was the right thing to do."

That was Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf commenting at a March 1, 1999, ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery, an event honoring the American military personnel who died in connection with the Persian Gulf War.

It was a recent tribute, but one which could be applied to those who have given their lives for freedom in every war all over the world, those who will be remembered in special Memorial Day ceremonies Monday.

The Associated Press reported Schwarzkopf's comments and said the general, fighting back tears, added:

"They were truly, truly the best thing America had to offer the world."

It was noted 147 Americans died in action in Desert Storm and 289 other service members died in accidents related to the war effort.

Archuleta County has provided its share of American servicemen and women, with 288 buried in Hilltop Cemetery and 23 in private cemeteries around the county. The area has recorded 27 war dead.

They have not been forgotten.

Mullins-Nickerson American Legion Post 108 of Pagosa Springs has made sure of that.

The Legion will hold two ceremonies Monday, the first at 9:15 a.m. at the Legion Post on Hermosa Street in Town Park and the second at 10 a.m. (following Catholic Mass) at Hilltop Cemetery.

Preparations for the ceremonies have been ongoing and flags will be placed at 4 p.m. Sunday on every known veteran's grave.

At both Monday services the flag will be raised to full-staff and then lowered to half-staff until noon.

Area veterans who have passed away and been added to the rolls of Memorial Day honorees in the past year will be recognized at the Hilltop ceremony and candles will be lighted by Legion Auxiliary members in their memory. County war dead will be remembered with a calling of each name as Auxiliary members place a poppy in a memorial bowl.

Wreaths will be placed at flagpoles at both ceremony locations.

The Rev. John Bowe of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church will open the Hilltop ceremony, followed by a special song by Jessica Espinosa. Several speakers have been invited and "Taps" in echo will be played by two buglers at each location.

The public is invited to both ceremonies and all veterans, whether Legion members or not, are welcome to take part.

Those participating in the events will assemble at the Legion Post at 8:45 a.m for assignments and final briefing. Uniforms are recommended, but not required.

America has recorded at least 538,520 battle deaths in the 15 major conflicts in its military history. Every one of those will be honored, too, when the names of their compatriots from Archuleta County are read Monday.

Those patriots deserve the salute of every Pagosa and Archuleta County resident Monday.


Historical memory

Considering the question "What makes a nation?" the historrian Jacques Barzun says a key part of the answer is "common historical memories." He goes on to state "When the nation's history is poorly taught in schools, ignored by the young, and proudly rejected by qualified elders, awareness of the tradition consists only in wanting to destroy it. True, the word history continues to be freely used, but in ways and places where it does not belong."

These thoughts on the meaning of history to a nation - when honored or when dismantled - are appropriate this week as two events occur in our community: Memorial Day and graduation day at our local high school.

There is reason to fear Barzun's history, untaught, ignored and proudly rejected, is becoming the rule of the day. At a time when we least need it to happen.

According to recent national news reports, surveys of graduating high school and college seniors reveal a disconcerting lack of awareness of Barzun's "common historical memories." A surprising percentage of supposedly educated Americans lack a store of basic historical facts and concepts.

Saturday, graduates receive diplomas at Pagosa Springs High School and we can only hope they've received thorough instruction in our common historical memories, as we hope all American students have. The odds against this are growing, however, as proponents of factionalism and separatism, purveyors of subjectivist educational models - all elements in the creation of an increasingly decadent society - tear at the fabric of common values, condemning dominant historical models and characters, rearranging history to suit their needs.

While a strong argument can be made that history is shaped by the desires of the ruling class, by enfranchised interests, this is not time to surrender or ignore our core values and the past they mirror. We are in clear jeopardy as a nation, under attack and in need of an anchor. In need of our history, unmodified, unambiguous.

What better occasion than Memorial Day to reflect on that history and the shared values that have the power to tie us together, to unite us as we undertake a common mission. What better day to remind our new graduates, to remind all of us, to guard against the loss of our long-term and short-term historical memories.

With respect to our long-term vision of history, we need to take time Monday to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by more than a million Americans during the lifetime of our republic - in service to a set of commonly held values and common memories. We need to remember that the physical and intellectual freedoms, luxuries and ease we enjoy exist only because, when the alarm sounded, when the threat was real, Americans responded and many gave life and limb.

Ceremonies will be held Monday at the downtown American Legion Post and at Hilltop Cemetery, saluting the war dead of Archuleta County and, through them, all who gave their lives to help guarantee our survival, adding to our common historical memories.

Regarding our short-term vision, there is ample reason to keep in mind that recent events require us to be vigilant and steadfast, to remain conscious of the very real and dangerous forces working in the world against the survival of our nation and our way of life. It is not time to equivocate, to surrender our strength or our history.

This holiday weekend let's make it a point to remember the sacrifices of so many and to celebrate our new graduates, wishing them a bright future. And let's make time to take stock of the values we need as our current struggle continues and we fight to ensure that bright future comes to pass.

Karl Isberg


Dear Folks

By David C. Mitchell

Revisiting Dr. Handy's Mountains

Dear Folks,

Dr. Handy and his mountains came to mind May 12 as Cynthia and I hiked the trail to Fourmile Falls. The falls' misty, wind-blown waters came to mind Monday when I learned that Dr. Allan W. Handy had passed away May 14.

Long before I met him, I had read about Dr. Handy in Yankee Magazine. Somewhat similar to Reader's Digest in size and content, the magazine focused on life in the New England area. One month's feature story told about a B-18 bomber that had crashed on Mount Moosilauke near Lincoln, N.H., in the opening days of World War II.

Returning from an anti-submarine patrol off the East Coast the night of Jan. 14, 1942, the bomber with its eight-man crew had crashed on the snow-covered mountain due to poor visibility. Two of the three bombs it was carrying exploded soon after impact. The explosions and resulting fires alerted the folks in Lincoln. Though many thought there would be no survivors, Dr. Handy donned his ski gear, stuffed his parka with bandages, and along with some other hardy searchers set out for the crash site. Slogging through knee-deep snow, the party located a survivor about a mile up the trail. Continuing upward through the drifts they discovered two more survivors near the crash site.

Dr. Handy administered first aid before assisting them in the six-hour descent to the base of the mountain and awaiting ambulances.

Through the ensuing years he moved from Lincoln and its surrounding wilderness to the seacoasts of Maine, and in time to Pagosa Springs. His love for the mountains had led Dr. Handy to Pagosa Country. From the late '70s until the early '90s, he spent countless days hiking the trails and climbing the peaks of the neighboring San Juans. A camera was as essential as a canteen on these treks because Dr. Handy thought it important to show others what he had seen.

During 1991, his attraction to the San Juan Mountains brought Dr. Handy to my desk at the SUN. Acknowledging that his 70-year venture of climbing mountains was nearing its end, Dr. Handy offered to share his love for the San Juans with the SUN's readers.

His plan involved two of his "younger" climbing partners, Jerry Sager and Bob Tillerson, providing him photos of the mountains. Dr. Handy in turn would create a panorama of the vistas by taping the photos together and then using pen-and-ink sketches to produce enlarged replicas. No small undertaking for an 80-year-old with no artistic training.

It was an arduous task that only someone with the patience of a pathologist would attempt. After using plastic tape to "tile" the photos together, Dr. Handy used a pencil to line large sheets of drawing paper with one-inch grids. Using a magnifying glass to better determine the details of the photos, he next would create his pencil sketches. Once they met his satisfaction, he used a pen to ink his drawings. The final steps involved erasing the penciled grid marks, taping the panels into a broad wide-angle drawing, writing a description of the drawing and identifying its prominent features.

So it was that SUN readers near and far came to know and appreciate "Dr. Handy's Mountains."

And so it was that six months ago a Christmas card arrived from Rochester, N.H. Written in a style familiar to pharmacists, it said in part: "... I miss you (and) friends in Pagosa. I'm working on 1 sketch. It goes hard (and) slow. ..."

It remains unfinished. As for the collection of finished sketches, yes, it's time to re-run the now completed series of Dr. Handy's Mountains.

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


By Shari Pierce

91 years ago

Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era files of May 26, 1911

A. Thompson has been busy this week renovating the court house. The old paper was torn off the walls and they were given a good coat of alabastine, and the ceiling was painted, make interior of our county capitol look fresh and neat.

The foundation is laid and work will be pushed on the new residence of D. Lowenstein. When completed Mr. Lowenstein will have a modern little home.

Work was commenced this week on the addition to the Catholic Church. When completed the Catholics will have a very neat and commodious place of worship.

The unusual severe weather for May has done much damage to Colorado, especially in the fruit belt. Arboles reports all the fruit killed.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of May 27, 1927

The Hersch Merc. Co. has established a standing annual award of two solid gold medals to the highest ranking boy and girl in each graduating class. This year the medals were won by the following: Fern Stauffer, Salutatorian and Carl Nossaman, Valedictorian.

At the receiver's sale of the First National bank building last Saturday afternoon, the board of county commissioners of Archuleta County presented the best and highest bid for the building and property, the sum of $5,000. The board plans to convert the building and utilize the vault and fixtures as a county court house.

Buck O'Neal officially opened trout fishing season here Wednesday by calmly making a cast with minnow and pulling in a fine big rainbow trout weighing four pounds.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of May 23, 1952

The final touches were added this past week to the remodeling and refurnishing of the post office. The new equipment and the repairs and remodeling to the building make the local mail center about one hundred per cent better looking and much more efficient.

Sunday morning will see fisherman out for the first day of the 1952 season and unless the weather changes, it may be cold fishing. Prospects are good for the finishing this year, with many plants of legal sized trout being made this spring prior to the opening of season.

Mrs. Rachel Tishner, county superintendent of schools visited a number of schools in the county the past week. She reported that much good work was in evidence as having been accomplished during the past year.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of May 19, 1977

Heavy winds destroyed, or damaged a large number of trees in the Coal Creek area last Friday. The freak wind uprooted trees, snapped trees off, tore down brush and smaller trees, took portions of a roof from a residence, and the resulting down timber blocked a ranch road for the better part of two days.

Construction work is really in high gear in these parts. The contractor for the Wolf Creek Pass four-laning project has started work, and the pass is closed week nights from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Local schools will close for the summer Friday of next week. 48 seniors will receive diplomas in graduation exercises this Sunday night at the high school gym.

Inside The Sun
Junk cars: Man's best friend or ugly neighborhood blight?

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Junk cars. Are they man's best friend or do they defile the wholesome views and values and neighborhoods people expect in Archuleta County? Are they a menace to public health, welfare and safety?

As the reader might imagine, there are as many answers to the above questions as there are people. In lieu of reproducing the thoughts of 20 or 30 people on each side of this question in this article, The SUN cites only enough people to represent the contrasting viewpoints.

At ground zero, detonating discussion on this explosive issue, is a complaint from an Aspen Springs resident that someone has moved from 26 to 100 cars onto Lot 499 in Aspen Springs Unit 6.

Junk cars in varying numbers occupy properties all over the county. So do other collections of old machinery, building materials, worn-out appliances and a hodgepodge of other societal throwaways. In a similar vein, some folks complain of neighbors who discharge raw effluent on the ground, especially one specific reference to dumping effluent into Stollsteimer Creek.

People who don't like what they see complain to the leaders of their respective communities, to the county sheriff, to the county commissioners and to the San Juan Basin Health Department. Responses to those complaints are almost always unsatisfactory, according to many complainants.

The complaint concerning Aspen Springs Unit 6 has elicited a response from the county, but the response may not be the one expected. The county is not approaching this situation from the standpoint of junking up the neighborhood, or with a view of eliminating a health hazard. The county says the people placing cars on Lot 499 may be running a business without having first obtained a county-required conditional use permit.

Aspen Springs Unit 6 is a remote area whose access road attaches to Cat Creek Road and winds up, up and up. If you are driving through Aspen Springs on your way to Durango, look at the cliffs to the south. Unit 6 is on the mesas at the top of those cliffs. You'll find terrific views from Unit 6.

By talking to the complainant, other Aspen Springs residents, the owners of the cars and Lot 499, the county planning office, officers of the Aspen Springs Property Owner's Association, officers of the Aspen Springs Metropolitan District, the local San Juan Basin Health inspector, a county planner, the county attorney, and a county commissioner, the following information was obtained.

J.R. Smith answered at The Place, a business location in Aspen Springs near the well-known windmill. In business since February, The Place repairs autos, especially transmissions, according to Smith. They also supply auto parts, especially for older cars. The business also owns the cars located on the lot in Unit 6.

These are not junk cars, they are parts cars, according to Smith.

"One of my things," Smith said, "is older cars. If we get rid of all of them by crushing, then there are no parts left for people to repair older cars. If we have the parts, we save people money. We don't have a junk yard. We have a storage yard in Unit 6. We bought the land up there because it is out of view. We're fixing to fence it pretty soon."

According to Smith, he has not heard from the county, the Aspen Springs Property Owners Association or the Aspen Springs Metropolitan District in connection with his business.

Nevertheless, a complaint is on file in the county planning office because so many cars have been moved to Lot 499. The complainant lives in Unit 6. A second complaint about the same site has been received, according to Greg Comstock, director of community development for Archuleta County. The planning department's response has been to mail a letter to the owner of Lot 499, inviting him to talk with planning officials. The first letter was returned, unopened. The case involving the county and the owners of Lot 499 is still in the works.

But Lot 499 is only one instance.

Steve Stacey has lived in Aspen Springs most of the past 30 years. He remembers Aspen Springs as a quiet, pastoral place, a welcome retreat at the end of a day's work. Now he sees the development surrounding his home as going to pot.

"I don't know why the county allows junk yards," Stacey said.

He recalls a big orange barn in a meadow south of U.S. 160, as "nice when it was built." Now the place is littered with junk, old cars, travel trailers, building materials, every form of junk, according to Stacey who said there is trash "everywhere you look.

"I'll not waste my breath going to the property owners association or the metro district," Stacey said. "They don't do anything. I called San Juan Basin Health. They say there is nothing they can do unless it is a health hazard. I've heard one guy dumps sewage on the ground. There was a guy the town ordered to clean up or get out. He bought a lot at Aspen Springs and moved all of his junk out here. I've tried to talk to the county commissioners. They say they can't talk because it isn't on the agenda. I won't waste my breath trying to talk to them again. They aren't going to do anything.

"What most irritates me," Stacey continued, is I pay county taxes just like everyone else. We have a road district so the county doesn't take care of our roads. They won't enforce health laws. What do I pay taxes for, hantavirus?"

Ernest O. "Curl" Jones is president of the Aspen Springs Metropolitan District. Aspen Springs contains about 2,700 lots with an assessed valuation of $11.6 million. The district's state charter allows the district to take care of roads, provide sewer and water service. What does Jones have to say about junk car complaints?

"We know about it, but there is nothing we can do," Jones said. "It's private property. As to sewage in the creek, it is not our business.

"They have tried calling San Juan Basin Health," Jones continued. "They come out, then say there is nothing they can do unless they catch the culprit in the act. They do nothing. The property owners have tried. There is not much they can do. A lot of this is a health hazard but they still say there is nothing they can do. We're unhappy with the response. We've called the sheriff but he can't do anything. We don't know what to do."

Nancy Shepard is secretary of the Aspen Springs Metropolitan District. She said she hadn't heard about Lot 499, then added, "There is nothing we can do. We don't have any covenants."

Royce Kinnaman has been the San Juan Basin Health Inspector in this area for 25 years. Kinnaman inspects septic tank installations, restaurants, monitors air quality, and is involved with other health issues. And he receives a lot of complaints, especially from Aspen Springs.

Many of the complaints involve things people don't like, but which aren't illegal, according to Kinna-man. He has followed up on the effluent complaint, but has not caught the person in the act. As to junk cars, Kinnaman said, "That is not what I deal with." If convinced that leaking auto liquids were threatening health or the environment, Kinnaman said he would find someone to look into it. "I have no authority over that area that I know of," he added.

Basically, Kinnaman sees his job as enforcing state law. "If it is against the law, I have to find evidence to prove it," Kinnaman said.

He complained that, by the time he finds evidence, issues the required notices, deals with responses, a year or two could pass. "They apply for a permit, buy time, and when a year and a half or two years have passed they move on," Kinnaman said. "By the time we are ready to take them to court, they leave. It is discouraging."

Kinnaman attributes a lot of Aspen Springs' problems to the lack of covenants. The lack of covenants attracts some people who don't want restrictions.

As a wrapup, Kinnaman said in the near future he is getting backup help and will "make more of a presence" in Aspen Springs.

Where does the county fit into all of this? Earlier this year the commissioners had a things-to-do list for 2002 which included looking into cleaning up junk cars and dealing with similar situations. What happened to the plan?

"Don't look for anything there this year," said Bill Downey, chairman of the board of county commissioners. "While we would like folks to clean their junk cars and stuff up. We're not real prone to taking any official action requiring them to remove unused vehicles if we don't see any health or safety issues."

If a health or safety complaint comes to their attention, the county will ask San Juan Basin Health to look into it, Downey said. Incidents fitting that category might be an oil leak or the potential to contaminate water and "if it is a safety issue we may look at it ourselves."

Downey attributed much of the junk car problem to choices made by residents to live in subdivisions without restrictive covenants. "A lot of folks move there because there are no covenants. It depends on the wants of the residents."

Is the county planning any legislation to deal with junk cars?

"Not at this time," Downey said. "There was some talk some time back. There is no strong intent to do anything in the near future. I haven't been hearing about it from citizens. I hope people don't accumulate a bunch of cars, but some people are into machinery. They have those kinds of things around for parts so they can work on their machinery."

Finally, Downey said, "I don't see this as a problem countywide. In some places it is a problem. It depends on individual judgment."

Pagosa Springs has adopted a code which clearly defines junk cars, according to Jay Harrington, the town administrator. The code contains an in-depth description of junk cars and is used by the town. The town tends to conduct most of its enforcement during short bursts of time, such as cleanup weeks, according to Harrington.

The biggest problem with junk cars is getting rid of them, Harring-ton said. No one locally buys and disposes of junk cars. One business in Durango performs the service, but is often overloaded. Persons who violate town junk car ordinances are prosecuted in municipal court.

Could Archuleta County adopt legislation dealing with junk cars? Yes, said Mary Weiss, the county attorney, an affirmative echoed by Comstock.

Other counties where Comstock has worked have had specific legislation concerning junk cars. This county could do the same.

Archuleta County currently has no regulations dealing with the problem, according to Weiss. Under police powers delegated by the state, the county can adopt ordinances dealing with the issue, she said. If adopted, the regulations would apply to all unincorporated areas in the county, including all subdivisions in unincorporated areas. Weiss has samples of such regulations already adopted by other counties in Colorado.

Survey of 101 historical structures nears completion

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

It seems Pagosa's history can be told as much by what isn't here as what is.

According to the results of a recent historical building survey, the downtown fires in 1919 and 1942, and the flood in 1911, changed the face of the community so much that many of the remaining buildings are still too new or too remodeled to be considered historic by national registry standards.

Results of a survey of 101 buildings 50 years old and older within the town boundaries were presented by Jill Seyfarth of Cultural Resource Planning in Durango, at a town meeting May 15. About 20 people attended.

Seyfarth said the survey had three goals: to create a database for the community and future surveys, to provide a preliminary evaluation for the properties' eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places, and to determine the probability for a downtown historic district.

Viewing, photographing and researching the 100 buildings took about eight months. For much of the history of ownership on the lots, the surveyors leaned heavily on information from the Archuleta County Courthouse, including old abstracts of assessments dating from 1885-1935. The assessments listed property owners by lot and block, assessed taxes and whether or not the taxes were paid.

Years when the assessment jumped dramatically usually indicated a building of some sort, Seyfarth said, but it's no indication what the building later housed. Since addresses were rarely used at the time, matching exact building to owner proved to be a big challenge and impossible in many cases. Pinpointing architects or builders was another hurdle.

Construction dates garnered from both the assessor's and clerk's offices showed the majority of the buildings surveyed were constructed between 1900 and 1920. Almost a third were constructed using wood siding - a logical extension of the logging industry prevalent in the community at the time. Later, apparently following a fire protection ordinance passed in 1921, many of the downtown commercial structures were built using concrete or brick.

Seyfarth said four buildings built with concrete prior to 1920 might be eligible for the state historic register, dependent on their level of remodel. The Venn Law Office Building, 444 Lewis Street; Mariani's, 214 Pagosa Street; The Source Real Estate Office, 257 Pagosa Street and the former San Juan Supply building, 468 Lewis Street were all constructed using decorative concrete blocks made on a press.

These presses were available through the Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogues. They were relatively affordable, costing between $24 and $36 in 1907, and customers could purchase plates for smooth or rocked faces, porch chimney and column castings, rope and scroll faces and other decorative touches. The blocks offered a larger alternative to bricks, reducing the time and labor involved, and provided some fire protection. This building style has been identified as a historic statewide theme. That puts the four buildings in the running for statewide designation. However, designation also requires that the building retain much of its original architectural look, including the original roofing materials replaced in many cases by metal because of snow loads.

Seyfarth also highlighted a few of the residences on the north side of Pagosa Street west of downtown, labeling the area a kind of "Merchant's Row." Of the buildings surveyed there, she said, many were owned, built and/or lived in by the movers and shakers of early Pagosa. These were the homes of the doctors, lawyers, bankers, merchants, ranchers and some of the first politicians of the frontier town. One can only imagine the politicking that went on at those neighborhood barbecues. The homes, many of which are now used as businesses, also offer a peek at the variety of architectural styles popular in the first half of the 20th century.

In the downtown area, she said two prominent landmark structures, the Hatcher/Hersch Mercantile and the Aurora Mall, remain. Both were most likely remodeled after the 1942 fire to resemble the 20th Century Commercial faces they probably sported before burning. Because they were remodeled with their former facades in mind, it's hard to determine exactly how old they are and what parts, if any, are original.

Still, Seyfarth said, the buildings are good examples of that style, marked by the tan brick trim, second-floor windows with contrasting brick sills, the stepped parapet and overall horizontal lines.

Many of the buildings surveyed could, Seyfarth said, meet local historic landmark designation criteria which is not so strictly tied to architecture. She encouraged people interested in such a designation to contact Chris Bentley at Town Hall or look into remodeling their buildings back to a period look that would make them eligible for some of the broader designations.

Seyfarth thanked the town staff, historic preservation board, local residents and employees of the county offices for all the assistance in the study.

The survey was funded through a grant from the Colorado Historical Society. Members of the local historic preservation committee chose 100 the structures surveyed. One other building was added to the list by a private individual who paid for the additional cost.

Town Planner Chris Bentley said she was pleased with the survey results and excited to have this first step of historic planning.

"Now that we have an idea of what we have historically, we need to decide what to do with it," she said. "The next step is to develop a preservation plan that prioritizes tasks and then prepare design guidelines. That will help people to know how to effectively work with historic buildings if they're improving them or adding on."

Having a designated historic district downtown is possible through the local landmark designation process Bentley, said. She's also planning to research a possible state downtown district designation.

Copies of the four-page survey sheets filled out for each structure are available to the property owners for free by request at Town Hall. Copies of the entire 40-page survey will be available to the public for $5 each in about two weeks, or can be viewed at the Sisson Library or at Town Hall at no cost.

County names building study panel

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

A five-member committee has been appointed by county commissioners to review proposals to develop plans for constructing new county administration facilities.

Included in the proposal are plans for a new building, plus plans for renovating the existing courthouse.

The committee was appointed at the regular meeting of county commissioners Tuesday at the request of commissioner Gene Crabtree.

Crabtree had taken the lead during March when a request for proposals was prepared and advertised.

"I'd like to be on the committee," Crabtree said Tuesday. "I was the one who pushed, drew up the proposal. I have strong feelings on this. I'd like to continue to push, see what the costs are, see where we go from here."

Appointed to the committee, in addition to Crabtree, were Greg Comstock, director of county development; June Madrid, the county clerk and elections official; Tim Smith, administrator at Stevens Field; and Bill Steele, the county administrator.

The county contemplates construction of an administration building on a 4.55 acre tract on the east side of Hot Springs Boulevard opposite the Pagosa Springs Town Hall.

Property for the building was purchased at a cost of $750,000 during December of 1999. Since then, a space-needs study has been completed. The report summarizing the space-needs study outlined several alternatives with assumptions concerning how much of the activity in the current courthouse could or should be moved across the river to the new building.

A general assumption has been that law enforcement, jail, dispatch and court functions would remain in the current building and that other functions would be moved to a new building.

Building cost estimates in the $14 million range were contained in the space-needs study. Those estimates included expenses related to renovating the existing courthouse.

The bids currently being considered are not for construction plans, but for plans to be used for determining the extent and cost of construction. The requests for bids were published March 29 of this year with an announced bid opening date of May 15.

Six responses were received: two from Pagosa Springs, two from Durango, one from Grand Junction and one from Denver.

The responses divide the work into Phase I and Phase II. Estimates for Phase I range from a low of $12,000 to a high of $30,190. Estimates for Phase II range from a low of $16,000 to a high of $59,800. Bids totaling Phase I and Phase II ranged from a low of $24,500 to a high of $63,800.

One bidder did not separate Phase I from Phase II. That bidder came in at $23,900 for the total project. A deadline is not set for the review committee to report with a recommendation.

111 seniors will get diplomas Saturday

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Four students with perfect 4.0 grade point averages for their Pagosa Springs High School years will be co-valedictorians when 111 students walk down the aisle to receive diplomas Saturday morning.

Those top students are Ashley Gronewoller, Katie Jo Lancing-Lorenzen, Ethan Lance Sanford and Ross Thomas Wagle.

Close behind them in grade point average at 3.9, and identified as co-salutatorians for the ceremony are Matthew James Ford, Jeffrey Ryan Johnson and Hillary Mikala Wienpahl.

Graduates will be looking forward to collegiate and vocational training funded in part by $298,562 in scholarships to be awarded, many of them renewable for succeeding years dependent on grade average.

The commencement exercise, beginning at 10 a.m. in the high school gymnasium, will feature physical science and biology teacher Pete Peterson as graduation speaker Peterson was selected by the class. Introducing him will be graduate Tiffany Thompson.

The class history will be presented by Josiah Payne, Alysha Ranson, Lori Whitbred, Hillary Wienpahl and Hank Wills and the high school mixed choir will sing "Graduation Song/Song of Joy." The class song and music will be featured in a slide presentation by Brittany Fisher, Trina Mestas, Amy Moore, Angelica Rivas, Thompson and Whitbred.

Each of the valedictorians will make an honorary address; counselor Mark Thompson will announce scholarship awards; principal Bill Esterbrook will present the class; and Randall Davis, president of the board of education, will accept the class and present diplomas.

Selected as junior class escorts for the graduates are Katie Bliss, Tricia Lucero, Zeb Gill and Jason Schutz. Members of the honor guard are juniors Brandon Charles, Jordan Kurt-Mason, Pablo Mar-tinez, Todd Mees, Clay Pruitt and Ryan Wendt.

Invest in Kids program kickoff slated May 29

By Teddy Adler Finney

Special to The SUN

Everyone is invited to join Invest in Kids May 29 for an informational meeting, 9 a.m.-noon in the Commons Area at the high school.

The purpose of the meeting is to introduce the community to Invest in Kids and a prevention and intervention training program to be initiated with families with young children in the Four Corners area.

Invest in Kids is a Colorado nonprofit organization with a three-part mission: to identify high quality, research-based programs, facilitate implementation in communities throughout Colorado and promote sustainability of these programs.

The first program initiated by Invest in Kids was the Nurse Family partnership program (Healthy Kids in our area). This was introduced to the Four Corners area in 1999 and is currently serving over 100 low-income, first-time mothers and their families throughout southwest Colorado. Through over 25 years of rigorous research, the program has been shown to dramatically reduce child abuse and neglect, crime, welfare dependence, drug and alcohol abuse and smoking during pregnancy. It has made lasting impacts on participants, long after the program intervention is complete.

A second program is called The Incredible Years. It provides skill building opportunities to children, parents and teachers. It will be implemented through Seeds of Learning Family Center, Pinon Project and Head Start centers in the Four Corners area.

The May 29 meeting is an opportunity for residents to learn more about Invest in Kids and the programs to be implemented. Jennifer V. Atler, executive director of Invest in Kids, will be here to discuss the program, answer questions and talk about implementation.

Local backers hope to implement programs that benefit children and families and need support and input from the public on how they might work in this community.

Promoters urge residents to stop by for an hour or more during the local presentation. The initial presentation will be 9-10 a.m. with a discussion and question and answer period to follow. Coffee and doughnuts will be served.

Night closures to start

Tuesday on Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek Pass has remained open to overnight traffic this week and will be open through the holiday weekend.

Starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, the pass will be completely closed to traffic at night 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Thursday until further notice.

From noon Friday until Tuesday morning, there will be no daytime closures. But beginning Tuesday, periodic delays of 30-45 minutes can be expected during the day from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Fridays.

The delays and closings are associated with the construction of a nearly 1,000-foot tunnel on the east side which will eventually eliminate the area known as the narrows.

Current work involves boring and periodic blasting.

Updated information on pass closures, conditions and delays can be found on the Colorado Department of Transportation Web site at, on the Wolf Creek Pass Tunnel Project hotline at (719) 873-2221 and on the department's toll-free road condition hotline at 1-877-315-ROAD.

County spends portion of sidewalk escrow fund

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Archuleta County contributed $16,784 to a fund being developed for a Pagosa Lakes walking and biking trail. The total cost of construction for the current phase of trail construction is estimated at $160,000.

The county's contribution was approved at the regular meeting of county commissioners Tuesday following adoption of a policy regarding disbursement of funds accrued in a sidewalk escrow account.

Overseeing development of the trail is the Pagosa Lakes Property and Environment Department. The portion contemplated for completion during the current phase stretches along Park Avenue and Village Drive.

Funding for the project is coming from a variety of sources including about $95,000 from the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association, the $16,784 from the county, and about $25,000 from the town, leaving a balance of about $30,000 needed to complete the project.

This portion of the trail will be about 1.5 miles long, with an 8-foot wide asphalt surface.

The county's contribution was taken from an escrow fund accrued from mandatory contributions made in connection with certain construction requirements.

In general, the county has assumed that public sidewalks should be provided as part of certain construction projects. In some instances, particularly for construction projects in rural areas with little probability that sidewalks will be needed in order to link with adjacent projects, the county has waived the public sidewalk requirement.

Instead, the county has directed the builder to place in escrow the money that would have been spent building sidewalks. The county sidewalk escrow fund currently contains about $24,782.

While the county has had a sidewalk escrow fund for some time, no policy for distributing those funds had been in place until last Tuesday.

Money from the sidewalk escrow fund must be spent within five years and will generally be spent for construction of sidewalks or trails within three miles of the construction project donating the money. Such is the case with the money released by the county Tuesday.

The newly-adopted policy specifies that money from the fund will be used as close as possible to the site donating the money and that a written agreement will be struck governing expenditure of the money and the work to be done.

The county conducted or completed several additional actions Tuesday.

- The commissioners approved a contract between Archuleta County Fair Inc., and Sun Valley Rides LLC., for certain rides at the Archuleta County Fair July 31-Aug. 4.

- Jerry Jackson was appointed to the Upper San Juan Regional Planning Commission. Jackson was recommended by, and represents, the town of Pagosa Springs on the commission.

- The commissioners endorsed a letter of support for a Great Outdoors Colorado Legacy grant application for establishing a reserve fund to be used for future conservation easement purchases in the Navajo River Basin.

- Approval was given a special event permit allowing the Archuleta County Fair board to sell malt, vinous and spirituous liquor.

- An amendment was approved for the 19th Hole Restaurant changing the brew pub license to a hotel/restaurant license.

- Renewal was granted for the hotel/restaurant license held by Isabel's Restaurant.

- The hotel/restaurant license held by Bob's Cabin was renewed.

- Renewal was approved for a retail liquor license and a 3.2 percent beer license held by the Arboles Store.

- The commissioners listened to Jerry Brinton, who lives on Brookhill Drive, complain because the county had recently bladed the road. "Is it good to blade now?" Brinton asked. Before the blading, traffic traveled about 15 mph on the road, Brinton said. Since the blading, traffic is moving about 35-40 mph. The result is an unacceptable quantity of dust, according to Brinton. Fred Chavez, county road superintendent, said he had many requests to blade the road, and was trying to please as much as possible.

- County Veteran Services Officer Andy Fautheree made a monthly progress report.

- Following a presentation by Social Services director Erlinda Gonzalez and transportation director David Sedgwick, the commissioners granted approval for preparation of an application for a Colorado Works grant.

Duty to the earth

Dear Editor:

Do any of you out there have any idea what Kim Rogalin of Durango was saying about our environment not being worth sustaining? Lots of words but little said. Sustaining the best environment on earth we can is mankind's duty and obligation. Earth is a garden worth tending.

Ron Alexander

Setting it straight

Dear Editor:

As a property owner, I received a "mail flyer" from the Aspen Springs Property Owners Association. The flyer has many misrepresentations as to their authority and accomplishments. I am a former member of the board of directors.

The association is a nonprofit corporation with the State of Colorado, but has no regulatory authority. They can only make recommendations to the appropriate governmental authorities, unlike the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association, which is tied to restrictive covenants.

I am particularly offended by the Aspen Springs flyer statement: "We formed our own local Fire District." To the best of my knowledge, Aspen Springs never had a fire department, only a relic fire engine, with no personnel. Fire protection was relegated to the owner and his neighbors.

Due to numerous factors, a citizens' committee was formed to consider the options of fire protection for Aspen Springs. The result was Pagosa Fire Protection District Station 5, which includes other adjacent subdivisions and private lands. I was a member of the committee, and became a volunteer firefighter, along with others, to implement fire protection. Fire protection for Aspen Springs is provided by volunteers from all Pagosa Fire Protection District stations.

Additionally, the Aspen Springs Metropolitan District is the governmental entity formed for road improvement; star route mail boxes were the alternative to post office boxes, before cluster boxes.

John Brungard

By the rules

Dear Editor:

In reference to the 16 May 2002 SUN article titled "Move to dismiss ECC panelists," the Environmental Control Committee neither solicits accolades nor do they deserve the false accusations presented during the May PLPOA board meeting.

After what I considered an unjustified tirade amounting to a slanderous personal attack and character assassination, on myself and two of the four senior members of the committee, I had no recourse, but to respond. Incidentally Jack Theisen is an alternate member and only votes when one of the regular members is absent. The misguided, unfounded, vague allegations that we committee members were "out of control" was apparently based on three or four fully-documented ECC decisions which occurred several months ago, per the Declarations of Restrictions.

Admittedly, my first reaction leaned toward the negative approach. Instead, I have elected to explain what the committee does and what influences its actions.

The committee's composition and its responsibilities are defined in Declaration of Restrictions Pagosa, paragraph 4, dated 13 March 1970. These restrictions are incorporated by reference in to most of the other subdivisions within the PLPOA jurisdiction. Trails, Vista, Martinez Mountain, Meadows II, III and IV, and Central Core/Service Commercial, have separate declarations, however they have basically the same wording in the paragraph addressing the ECC.

Being a member of the committee is a time-consuming commitment, requiring 20 to 30 hours or more each month, by individuals who firmly believe in the principle most of us within the PLPOA jurisdiction share. That is: Pagosa is a unique and special community, and should remain a place that we are all proud of. The committee strives to maintain openness, enhancement of property values and harmony within each subdivision, just to mention a few considerations when rendering a decision.

The current committee is comprised of six members, three permanent and three alternates, each appointed for an initial term of two years. We are fortunate to have six members with individual and unique backgrounds, including the building trades. Committee members work together as a team, to apply the requirements set forth in the declarations and the Building Package.

Approximately 1,000 agenda items have been submitted to ECC in the two years I have been on the committee. Allowing for four or five times the number of complaints stated, the committee's satisfactory-to-unsatisfactory ratio would be approximately 99-1.

We as a committee feel that we are responsible for representing all of the PLPOA owners, both local and absentee, to insure the principles for which we chose Pagosa Springs as a place to live are maintained. We do not believe we should be subservient to a very few dissident, self-serving individuals who believe they have a right to ignore the declarations and Building Package. One does not need to look very far to see what could happen without them.


Earl N. Eliason

Party bottoms out

Dear Editor:

In the waning weeks of the 2000 presidential campaign, I thought that I had seen the bottom of the barrel in the Democrats' political strategy. With their nominee losing, an ad was run by the Democrats showing the tragic scene of a black person being drug to death behind a pickup truck in Texas. The ad was run suggesting that this crime was George W. Bush's fault.

Even though I did not think that it was possible, the Democrats now have lowered the bar even further. They are now suggesting that, due to tips received last summer from various sources, George W. Bush could have prevented a tragedy that we will all remember the rest of our lives - the attack of 9/11.

Daschle and Gebhart are all over this now while denying partisanship. What happened to supporting our commander in chief while at war? A Democrat congresswoman from Georgia has even accused the president of not preventing this event so that the Bush family could benefit in their oil business. Apparently, this woman's limousine driver did not inform her that oil prices hit a five-year low following 9/11. Truly a new low in American politics.

Now the Democrats want congressional hearings. Will these hearings include tips that Bill Clinton received and inquiries as to why we turned down an offer to have bin Laden turned over to U.S. authorities during the previous presidency? Think what this means to our war effort and national security. In these hearings, we will inform the world how we gather our intelligence, who receives the information, what we do with the information and how we should act on this information. This should be great viewing for Saddam Hussein and bin Laden. This lack of concern over our national security from the Democrats should not come as a surprise. This is the same party that received truckloads of cash from the Chinese.

This has nothing to do with concern for our country. This has everything to do with trying to bring down a popular president, pure and simple. America is a much stronger country today with a new leader and Americans are enjoying the change. The liberal media and the American Civil Liberties Union are still frothing at the mouth after watching schoolchildren recite the Pledge of Allegiance and praying after 9/11. I knew that it was only a matter of time before they would try to stop all of the positive developments in our country following the terrible tragedy our great country endured. Shame, shame, shame on these Democrats. This one will backfire in a big way.

John Ranson

Missing Pagosa

Dear Editor:

I wanted to write this letter to the editor to have it passed on that I grow homesick sometimes, and to apologize for not keeping in touch. I left Pagosa in February of 2000 and got lost in Southern California ... swallowed up. I check the Web page news every once in a while just to see what's going on, and to get a "home" fix. I need that sometimes because you really can get overwhelmed here a lot.

There are so many things I've seen here that I never did at home. There is a different set of rules to play by. One of the hardest things for me to get used to was the 40 minutes it takes to get to work, the equivalent distance of driving from downtown Pagosa to Aspen Springs.

There are good people here. There just aren't as many friends as I was used to being around back home in Pagosa. I miss not being able to go to the grocery store and visit with people I know and respect, or the chance to catch up, chatting with a couple friends at the post office.

There's a certain buffer of space that people demand here. It's like all they really want to do is get from point A to point B in the least amount of time without being sued.

And the smog here! I miss my Colorado skies. Or, as my wife says about the air there, "It's nice to breathe it without the work of having to chew it first." We were so depressed when on our trip back from Pagosa this past spring, as we drove down Cajon Pass on I-15 into the valley where we live and all we could see was smog where the city should be, nothing else. It's weird, but it doesn't seem that thick when you're in it, breathing it.

What I'm trying to say is although I've made my decision to be here, and have learned a lot about myself and life on "the other side," it all makes me appreciate the life in Pagosa Springs. Yes, there are many things available here that aren't there, but there's also a great price. I ask and I hope that we remember the simple things that make Pagosa a good place to live. I miss so many people and the way of life from home. Please don't get caught up in trash or ugliness that ruins community life, or changes the face of the people I know. Don't let silly things like some plaque create such a noise. There is plenty of that going on elsewhere.

Please take care of my little town. You know, every time I tell someone that I moved here from Colorado, they tell me: "Colorado? Why would you move here from there?"

George Silva

Riverside, Calif.

Woe the road

Dear Editor:

Top 10 Reasons to grade Cat Creek Road:

10. We do not need to be part of a new government study. The last one on washboards only found them to be evenly spaced. We who travel Cat Creek Road already know that.

9. It makes milk shake and frequent flyer take on whole new meanings, and we can't do laundry on these washboards.

8. People with dentures, fillings or artificial parts can no longer travel this road without signing a waiver.

7. Car parts are beginning to pile up in the ravine.

6. I don't need to go 5 mph to enjoy nature, and my husband is not training for the Baja 500.

5. Watching the humans bounce along is so entertaining the deer have begun to charge admission and set up roadside stands. Baling wire is a big seller.

4. Jiggling it off is not an effective method of weight reduction.

3. It's illegal for the county to collect a kickback from auto parts and repair services.

2. Shaking children violently is considered abusive in any other context.

1. Even though the $300,000 houses are absent, you may still need our votes.

Sharilyn Smith

Cancer free

Dear Editor:

Thank you for your continued prayers and support over the past five years. I have been declared cancer free!

When I was diagnosed with lymphoma, the first thing I did was look it up in Mom's medical dictionary. What I read scared me. The second thing I did was call everybody I knew to get on prayer chains in their communities.

I have lived to see my daughter graduate from college and begin her teaching career. I have seen my son start a family and have been around to see my grandson grow and learn with each new day.

My husband and I still travel to Canada every year for our bear hunting camp. I am often asked the question, "To what do you credit your cure?" My answer is always, "Prayer and God's grace."

With sincere gratitude,

Dawn Walker

Sports Page
Lady Pirates receive

soccer all-conference honors


By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Three members of the Pagosa Lady Pirates' soccer team have been selected for all-conference honors, including repeat selection striker Meagan Hilsabeck.

Also selected were sophomore midfielder Melissa Diller and senior right wing Aubrey Volger, an honorable mention.

Pagosa had a league record of 6-3-1 and an overall season mark of 8-6-1, playing a number of games against teams in higher classifications.

Senior Sydney Melzer of Telluride was the Southwest League player of the year. She was joined on the all-conference squad by seniors Carrie Lamb, Catherine Arnold and sophomore Britt Whitelaw. Sophomore Caitlin Kirst was an honorable mention.

Also named were Kelsey Bennet, Sam Henry and Parker Fregrelius of Ridgway, with Eve Donegan an honorable mention; Katie Whiteskunk of Ignacio, with teammate Quincy Trujillo an honorable mention; and Lindsay Martinez of Bayfield, with teammates Lacy Beck and Danielle Solka getting honorable mention.

Telluride won the league title and Ridgway was second. Ridgway lost its first round playoff game 8-0 to Basalt while Telluride defeated Heritage Christian to advance to quarterfinal play against top-ranked Faith Christian where the Miners lost 11-0.

Hilsabeck and Diller each were prolific scorers for Pagosa and Volger, because of her speed, a constant threat from the outside who developed an excellent passing game as the season progressed, often taking two defenders with her and then finding open teammates.

The Pagosa squad expects to be a contender next year for coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason, with just four seniors lost to graduation. Included among the graduates, in addition to Volger, are sweeper Cassie Pfeifle, midfielder Lori Whitbred and midfielder Carlena Lungstrum.

The squad featured a number of outstanding underclass representatives, including high-scoring Bri Scott, midfield defender Jenna Finney, sophomore keeper Sierra Fleenor, junior left wing Tricia Lucero, Sara Aupperle and Sarah Smith on defense, sophomore Lacy Ream, veteran attacker Charlotte Sousa, and newcomers Brittany Corcoran, Bret Garman, Kyrie Beye and Christina Lungstrum.

All saw considerable playing time and are expected to form a formidable block of experienced players when the 2003 season opens.

Unofficial season statistics, based on SUN records, show Hilsabeck and Scott each with 13 goals, Diller with 7, Volger and Lucero with 3 each, and Whitbred, Sousa, Corcoran and Pfeifle each with 1.


Pirates place in

three state track events

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

The Pagosa Pirates took advantage of two beautiful days of running weather to set three new school records and place in three events at the Colorado 2A/3A State Track Meet in Pueblo May 17-18.

Junior Jason Schutz and the Pirates' 3200-meter relay team smashed Pagosa Springs school records under sparkling blue skies almost simultaneously Saturday. Schutz, competing in the discus finals, placed fourth in that event with a 149-foot, 8-inch throw, breaking his own school record.

Meanwhile, down on the track, sophomores Aaron Hamilton and Brandon Samples and juniors Todd Mees and Cliff Hockett took off with the gun at the start of the 3200 relay. Pagosa shaved 13 seconds off its district-winning time of two weeks ago to finish the race in 8 minutes, 28.87 seconds, earning an eighth-place ribbon at state.

Head coach Connie O'Donnell said some of the younger runners, especially the sophomores and those who were at state for the first time, did extremely well.

"I was proud of them for giving it their all," she said.

Schutz, who qualified for four state events, also made the finals in the 100-meter dash with a 11.54 run in the preliminaries. He finished eighth overall, crossing the line in 11.76.

The 1600-meter relay team of Schutz, juniors Jeremy Buikema and Ryan Wendt, and sophomore Brandon Samples, shaved almost three seconds off their regional-qualifying time to set another school record of 3:34.67 in the preliminaries.

But then, an overcast and cool day Friday made for perfect running and fast times across the board with several tracksters from around the state felling records.

Samples ran his best time ever in the 800-meter run, crossing the tape in 2:06.57 for 10th place.

Other preliminary times included: junior Brian Hart, who ran a 17.42 in the 110-meter high hurdles, Jeremy Buikema with a 54.93 in the 400-meter dash and Schutz, who finished the 200-meter dash prelims with a 22.98.

O'Donnell said the relay teams felt good about their times and, although the weekend held a few disappointments, there is always next year. Next year, that is, when the team has at least a full asphalt track surface to practice on. And next year when they have a chance to race at Pueblo in April against different competition.

Who knows, maybe next year is the year the team will take that bus to state.



Lots of wind but nary

a drop of rain in sight

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

It's just three days shy of a month since the last measurable precipitation dropped on Pagosa Country. No one knows for sure, but another month or more could pass before anything wet happens in this area.

Today and tomorrow will be partly cloudy, according to Gary Chancy, a forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction. From Saturday through Tuesday skies will be dry and conditions mild.

Daytime high temperatures will range from the low 70s over the next couple of days, to near 80 degrees during the first part of next week. Low temperatures will remain relatively cool, ranging from the low 20s to the mid-30s.

Gusty winds pounded the area over the past week, but a stationary high pressure area centered over the Four Corners should eliminate those winds this coming week, Chancy said.

Wind gusts of 59 miles per hour, and perhaps more, were recorded Tuesday at the Fred Harman Art Museum. There is a computerized weather station at the site that records many weather measurements.

"We recorded a gust of 59 mph about noon Tuesday," Harman said. "The gusts could have been more than that, but we were unable to measure the excesses."

Sustained winds in excess of 35 mph were recorded Tuesday from 10 a.m. until about 6:30 p.m. by Harman.

No records exist to compare winds this year with past years. March may have been the windiest month this year, according to Harman. The highest gust was 45 mph March 8, but winds in excess of 35 mph occurred an excessive number of days. A 53 mph wind gust was recorded April 26, the highest April reading.

Temperatures remained above freezing during the past week.

High temperatures measured from Wednesday last week through Tuesday this week at the official National Weather Service gauging station located at Stevens Field ranged between 75 degrees Monday and 71 degrees Saturday with an average high temperature of 72 degrees.

Low temperatures ranged between 32 degrees May 15 and 35 degrees May 16 and May 19, with an average low temperature of 34 degrees.

Weather Stats


















































Community News
Chamber News

By Sally Hemeister

PREVIEW Columnist

Ride The Rockies host homes abundant

Please join the Pagosa Springs Arts Council gang tonight at the Gallery in Town Park for their 10th Anniversary celebration, 5-7 p.m. There will be a special exhibit presented by PSAC's past presidents, Joan Rowher, Jan Brookshier, Phyl Daleske, Carol Fulenwider and Jeff Laydon, along with entertainment and refreshments. Hope to see you all there so we can celebrate together.

Speaking of the Arts Council, and we were, they are once again sponsoring the Pet Pride Day Bird House Contest which will take place June 1. Each exhibitor may submit up to two individual birdhouses for display, and all houses must be original works built by the exhibitor. There are three categories for entry, and entries must be received by May 31 at 5 p.m. For more information, call the Arts Council at 264-5020.

Thanks again

The generosity of Pagosa Springs has come through once again, and we want to express our sincere thanks to each and every one.

Just two weeks ago we were begging for homes for our Ride The Rockies bikers, and now we have more homes than bikers. Thanks to all those who were ever so generous to open their homes to these folks. You certainly saved Morna's sanity and did a great deal for Pagosa's public relations status. We have learned from the past that these bikers tend to return to Pagosa to visit, so it's basically good for business to treat them well.

Insert deadline

Don't forget to bring your inserts to us by the end of the work day tomorrow with your check for forty bucks. We'll need about 730 inserts (unfolded, please) and we'll handle it from there. It's a great little marketing bargain for only pennies per piece, and we will be happy to answer any questions at 264-2360.

Country Showdown

The world's largest country music talent showcase and radio promotion is coming to Pagosa Springs with over $200,000 in cash and prizes awarded nationally. Our own KWUF AM 1400 is sponsoring this event which is designed to find the most promising country music talent in America, giving these performers a chance to launch their professional careers.

Local winners advance to one of over 40 state contests where the prizes include $1,000 in cash and the opportunity to compete at one of the six regional Country Showdown contests in the fall. Winners at the regional level are flown expense-paid to the National Final where they compete for the Grand Prize of $100,000 and the coveted National Title.

The contest is open to vocal and/or instrumental performers, individuals or groups with up to seven members who have not performed on a record listed in the national record charts of Billboard, Radio and Records or the Gavin Report within eighteen months preceding local competition.

Entry forms are available by calling KWUF at 264-1400. Deadline for entry tapes/CDs is July 8. Y'all come.

Business counseling

Our pal, Jim Reser, director of the Small Business Development Center at Fort Lewis College will be in Pagosa at the Visitor Center May 31 to offer free business information to all who seek it.

Jim has been coming to Pagosa for years and has helped countless members with his expertise and advice. Please call Doug at 264-2360 to set up an appointment with Jim. He truly has his finger on the pulse of current business conditions in the Four Corners area and will cheerfully share his fund of knowledge with you at no cost.

Fiber Festival

Please plan to attend the annual Pagosa Fiber Festival Saturday and Sunday at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day. Additionally, for those who would like a hands-on experience with the fiber arts, Friday will feature half-day and full-day training workshops. Please call 731-2729 for details on classes and registration.

The Fiber Festival offers a circus tent filled with fiber-bearing livestock, such as sheep, goats, llamas, rabbits and alpacas. Shearing demonstrations will be held throughout the course of both days to illustrate how the different fleeces are removed. Inside the Extension building you will find vendors from all across the country displaying and selling their natural animal fiber goods, most of which are handmade by the artisan with many one of a kind designs.

There is no admission charge for this event, and I can assure you that it is both exceedingly entertaining and educational. I had a grand time last year and plan on more of the same this year. It's a terrific way to begin your summer, so we hope to see you all there. Please call Dave Belt at the above number for more information.


I promised little Johnny Porter that I would share some current Visitor Center stats with you this week, so I will make good my promise. As always there are some quirky anomalies that make this business so doggoned interesting.

For the month of April Visitor Center traffic, our fellow Coloradans loved us best with 163 stopping by to say hello, with Texas in second place at 93. In third place was New Mexico with 74, followed by 42 from Arizona and 36 from Florida. Florida? Yep, that's a new one.

Year-to-date figures are much the same with a little twist at the end. Since the first of January, we've hosted 579 folks from Colorado, 494 Texans, 339 New Mexicans, and the two states that tied for fourth place are Arizona and Oklahoma, both with 127. In fifth place, California comes in with 108. We've seen about 3,500 visitors this year thus far and plan to see many more this summer.

What we know from our requests for information is that we will be seeing many folks from the Lone Star State this summer. We have received a whopping 372 requests from our friends to the south, with a mere 86 in second place from our Colorado neighbors. Californians requested 107 packets, Oklahomans 90, and in fifth place, Floridians with 86. The Florida thing is so interesting to me because we simply don't market to that state except for the AAA Colorado/Utah Guide. Perhaps it has even more clout than I thought.

Some other tidbits of information: we have received 966 requests via e-mail, 740 over the phone and 157 from Woodall's Campground Guide. Obviously, our Web site is working extremely well for us.


We have three new members to introduce to you this week and four renewals. Morna just conducted a major membership purge this weekend, but even after major surgery we stand at a current membership of 766. Not bad for a little mountain town, eh?

We first welcome Dan MacVeigh who brings us Fire Ready, working out of Mancos. Fire Ready works with home and property owners to create wildfire resistant landscaping in Southwest Colorado. Services include thinning and limbing trees, brush removal and chipping. This year in particular might be a real good time to consult with Dan about his services. You can reach him at (970) 759-9380 or by mail at P. O. Box 4303 in Pagosa.

We next welcome Marilyn Hutchins with Aspen Winds Vacation Condos located at 110 JJ Junction. Marilyn offers furnished vacation condos centrally located near the recreation center and Village Lake. Pets are considered, smoking is prohibited, and each unit sleeps six. Rates are $90 for a minimum of two nights, and weekly and monthly rates are available. Please give Marilyn a call at 731-9414 or (651) 735-6854 for more information about Aspen Winds Vacations Condos.

We're especially delighted to welcome this third business since we (sadly) no longer have a travel agency in Pagosa. Cathy Neill brings us AAA located at 2007 Main Avenue in Durango. AAA can handle all your travel needs to include cruises, tours, hotels, cars, and both domestic and international air travel. They can help you with your home, life and auto insurance, as well as emergency and routine road assistance. They also offer maps, tour books, towing and luggage and travel accessories. Please give them a call in Durango at 247-2273. We thank Sue Liescheidt, an AAA associate, for her membership recruitment and will send off a free SunDowner pass post haste with our thanks.

Our renewals this week include my new neighbor and old friend, Willie Swanda with Crazy Horse Outfitter and Guides; m' girl, Lisa Flaugh with Holy Smokes Stoves and Fireplaces, and our gracious Chamber retreat hosts, Mary and Bob Hart, with Hart's Rocky Mountain Retreat and Hart Construction Company. We're thankful for each and every one of you.


Senior News

By Janet Copeland

SUN Columnist

Friday sessions will deal with Medicare questions

A big thanks to J.R. (Jim) Hanson who has volunteered to meet with seniors at 1 p.m. each Friday beginning in June, to answer questions and help solve problems related to Medicare (billing, fraud, etc.) This is a fantastic service; bring your problems and let Jim help.

We appreciate Steven's presentation about Pagosa Pastimes on Wednesday. Unfortunately, some of us had another commitment and couldn't stay to listen but we really do appreciate him taking time to talk with us.

Thanks so much to Karen Keating who gave a presentation Friday about Senior Depression. Whether you are depressed or know someone who is, this information is very valuable to know about.

Wednesday was a big day at the Senior Center and we almost ran out of places to seat people. We hope that kind of attendance will continue. Guests and members welcomed back included Mary Ann Stewart, Mary Ann Ohlenbusch, Joyce Richter, Shirley Grabeloff, Marsha Marcus, Freida Lumley and Midge Rapp.

The staff at the Senior Center is absolutely the best. They do so much to help our folks. We especially thank Musetta and Laura for the demonstration on how to use

After we input some information (not names or Society Security numbers) the program suggests what programs may be useful for us. It screens more than 1,000 perks, including state pharmacy benefits, property tax breaks, legal assistance, energy assistance and state veterans' benefits.

The staff is also trying to arrange trips to Creede Repertory Theatre and the Bar-D Wranglers in Durango. These will probably take place in July or August. Let Laura know if you are interested and when would be the best time.

Other upcoming events include Patty Tillerson taking blood pressures beginning at 11 a.m. tomorrow, a valuable service we hope everyone takes advantage of; free transportation for 6 to 13 seniors on the third Tuesday of each month to Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, with some gifts and reduced price food vouchers; free swimming (for seniors only) 9-11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and discounts on meals at Best Western; yoga at 9:30 a.m. and art classes at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesdays; Allison Stephens with free massages 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays; card games and yoga at 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and matinee showings for seniors for $3 at Liberty Theatre.


Crusing with Cruse

By Katherine Cruse

PREVIEW Columnist

Cancer becomes a family affair

I Mother's Day in Philadelphia it rained. How do I know? Because I was there. Hotshot and I had been invited by our daughter to join her in the Race for the Cure, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation fund-raiser.

They've been holding Race for the Cure in Philadelphia for 12 years now, and it's a big deal. There are dozens of corporate sponsors. Driving into the city we even saw billboards advertising it.

The day before Mother's Day we registered for the race and got our T-shirts. What's an event without a T-shirt? They had two kinds - the regular white ones with the names of the sponsors on the back, and the bright pink ones for the survivors. I got one of each.

The day before Mother's Day was a balmy spring day. Dogwoods and fruit trees were blooming. The air was soft. The sun was shining. The three of us played tourist in Philadelphia's Old Town, the location for such American icons as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

Part of Old Town is Independence Park, a national park. Every once in a while you see park rangers in their gray/green uniforms. You also see men and women dressed in the clothing of the late 18th century wandering around and offering first-person interpretations.

We came upon the first of these in the park behind Independence Hall. I asked him if he were William Penn. He wasn't.

It's harder to be a tourist since Sept. 11. Crowds are contained. If you wanted to go inside Independence Hall, for example, you joined a line across the street. Only a few people at a time are admitted. I asked a park ranger how long we might wait in that line. An hour and a half.

We decided to move on and see the Betsy Ross house, the place where she was living when she was asked to make a flag for the new republic. There was no line at Betsy's place. We entered in the middle of a busload of high school students from Tennessee and wandered up and down the narrow, twisting staircases.

We also ate wonderful food in Philadelphia, ethnic food. Indian food. Thai and Indonesian. Ethiopian. Those restaurants are hard to find in lil' ol' Pagosa.

I'm slightly embarrassed to say that we didn't participate in the race.

Sunday morning, Mother's Day, we looked out the hotel window to see gray skies and wet pavement. We were on a tight schedule to fit in everything that day, including checking out of the hotel. Besides, we'd already paid the money. We blew off going to the race.

I called our daughter. That's fine with me, she said. I was up pretty late last night anyway.

But I watched it on television. And I learned some things.

First of all, an estimated 40,000 people turned out to walk, run, or watch.

Before the race began, the survivors, people who've completed treatment for breast cancer or who are still in treatment, or who are being treated again, marched hand in hand down the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Those are the same steps that Sly Stallone ran up and down in the Rocky movies.

It was an impressive sight: 2,500 people in pink T-shirts. The women were young, old, black, white, big, and small. There were a few men there too, because breast cancer is an equal opportunity disease.

Periodically the television station covering the race returned to the studio to give us snippets of information about breast cancer.

For instance, 70 percent of all breast cancers are found through self examination.

But regular mammograms are more likely to detect cancers at an earlier stage and improve your chances for successful treatment.

Most of the women diagnosed with breast cancer have no close relatives (mother, sister, daughter) with the condition. More and more women are being diagnosed at younger and younger ages.

A woman will die every 13 minutes THIS YEAR from breast cancer. Those deaths will affect the lives of a lot of other people. In that sense, cancer is a family affair.

Finally, breast cancer isn't something you catch. We can't eliminate it in the way that smallpox was eradicated. Cancer develops when your own cells go haywire.

There are some things you can do that might lessen the risk. According to studies published by the Harvard School of Public Health, women who ate five servings of vegetables daily had a 48 percent lower risk of breast cancer.

We're not talking potatoes here, nor that noted Southern vegetable, macaroni and cheese. You have to eat the serious vegetables, especially the ones high in beta carotene. You have to eat veggies from the cruciferous family. You have to eat your broccoli.

Some other food links: High amounts of fat in your diet, which translates as over 30 percent of your total calories, is risky. So is more than one serving of alcohol a day.

On the other hand, it's beginning to look as though milk, skim milk, might be beneficial, because it contains something called conjugated linoleic acid. Flax seed might contain anti-cancer properties.

And exercise has also been linked to lower cancer incidence. Get up off that couch.

Race for the Cure is held in other large cities around the country: New York, Denver, Nashville. It's not held in Pagosa, but we do have another cancer research fund-raiser - the American Cancer Society's annual Relay for Life. The ACS funds research for all types of cancer, including, probably, some of the studies that show the findings I heard two weeks ago.

Pagosa's Relay for Life will be June 21 and 22. Dedicated, caring people will be walking through the night to help raise money to fight cancer. You might consider joining them.

It's one of the most rewarding ways I can think of to get your exercise.


Pagosa Lakes News

By Ming Steen

SUN columnist

Swim lessons a good way to start kid's vacation

Just one more day and our children will be out of school. Summer vacation. Are your children's summer programs ready? It's time to start planning.

Swim lessons at the recreation center will begin June 3. These are two-week sessions with eight lessons per session. Lessons are Monday through Thursday.

Sessions are scheduled June 3-13, June 17-27, July 8-18 and Aug. 5-15.

Lessons are 30 minutes long, so the young tykes do not tire. Students will be placed in age and ability-appropriate groupings. Please come by the recreation center to register your child. Additional information is available by calling 731-2051. Instructors will work with students in small groups. Lessons will be 10:30 a.m.-noon.

With graduation this Saturday, the following summary of a speech by Bill Gates to the graduating class of Mt. Whitney High School in Visalia, Calif., makes for appropriate reading. He advised the students about 11 things they may not have learned in school:

"Rule 1: Life is not fair - so get used to it.

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will not make $40,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait 'til you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping hamburgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger-flipping. They called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault so don't whine about your mistakes. Learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So, before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shops and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one."

Congratulations to each and every student graduating in the Class of 2002. Set forth and be a dreamer, a doer, a striver and a seeker. God bless all of you.

Local Chatter

By Kate Terry

PREVIEW Columnist

Taps: 24 notes that touch emotion

Twenty-four notes that tap deep emotions describes the song "Taps."

The first use of "Taps" was at a funeral during the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia. Captain John C. Tidball of Battery A, 2nd Artillery ordered it played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. Since the enemy was close, he worried that the traditional three volleys would renew fighting.

As soon as "Taps" was sounded that night in July of 1862, words were put with the music. The first were, "Go To Sleep, Go To Sleep." As the years went on, many more versions were created. There are no official words to the music, but here are some of the more popular verses:

Day is done, gone the sun,

From the hills, from the lake,

From the skies.

All is well, safely rest,

God is nigh.


Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,

May the soldier and sailor,

God keep.

On the land or the deep,

Safe in sleep.


Love, good night, Must thou go,

When the day, and the night

Need thee so?

All is well. Speedeth all

To their rest.


Fades the light; And afar

Goeth day, And the stars

Shineth bright,

Fare thee well; Day has gone,

Night is on.


Thanks and praise, For our days,

'Neath the sun, 'Neath the stars,

'Neath the sky,

As we go, This we know,

God is nigh.

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, was instituted in 1868 to honor the Civil War dead, but now commemorates all war dead. Traditionally, the day is celebrated May 30.

Around town

This weekend is the Second Pagosa Fiber Festival, founded by Dave and Suzy Belt, who own the Echo Mountain Alpacas. Last year's event was one of the most colorful and charming events we have had in Pagosa Springs.

The goals of the Fiber Festival are twofold: To educate, support, and promote those who raise fiber-bearing livestock, the fiber arts, and the associated rural lifestyle; and to provide an annual event where the general public can observe all aspects of the fiber industry, from raising of the livestock, to shearing, to processing of the fleeces, to production of finished goods.

The event will take place at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., May 25-26.

Dave got the idea for this festival on Memorial Day Weekend, 2000. He organized the first festival for Memorial Day Weekend, 2001, and now here it is again, Memorial Day Weekend 2002. This is a fun event.

Fun on the Run

Mary's fourth grade homework assignment was to make sentences using the words in her spelling list, along with the definition.

Coming across the word "frugal" in the list, she asked her father what it meant. He explained that being frugal meant you saved something.

Her paper read:

Frugal: to save.

Sentence: Maid Marion fell into a pit when she went walking in the woods so she yelled for someone to come get her out.

She yelled, "Frugal me, Frugal me!"


Veterans Corner

By Andy Fautheree

PREVIEW Columnist

Memorial Day helps us remember

Memorial Day Services will be held Monday, May 20, to honor American, and in particular Archuleta County, servicemen and women who died in the military service or who have passed away since their military service.

Ceremonies will begin at 9 a.m. in front of the American Legion Mullins-Nickerson Post 108 building in Town Park. Members of the American Legion will conduct the ceremonies. The program will include assembly at 9 followed by a salute "to the colors" at 9:15. Roy Vega and Ron Gustafson will conduct the symbolic flag-raising ceremony with music by Jessica Espinosa.

Guest speakers will be Robert Dobbins and Donald Bartlett. A poem "In Flanders Fields" will be read by Roy Vega. Robert Dobbins will honor Gold Star Mother Dora Manzanares. Ronald Willett will read a roll call of Archuleta County veterans who died during the past year.

A ceremony with audience participation in the reading of names of all Archuleta County veterans who died in service to their country will follow. Members of the audience will be given the names of local veterans to be spoken aloud while a wreath is put at the foot of the flag pole. Raymond Taylor, Post commander will then read the Gettysburg Address.

Ceremonies at the American Legion building will conclude with a rifle volley in salute to fallen servicemen and women and the simultaneous playing of "Taps" by Don Weller and Chris Baum.

Following the ceremonies at the American Legion building and a special Mass at the Catholic Church at approximately 9:45, Memorial Day ceremonies will conclude with a ceremony at Hilltop Cemetery.

Many of the same participants will conduct the ceremonies - a flag raising, bugles playing "To The Colors," prayers and music. "In Flanders Fields" will be read by Roy Vega. American Legion Auxiliary will conduct a candle-lighting ceremony while the audience again reads a roll call of deceased veterans. Post Commander Raymond Taylor will speak about the reason for Memorial Day. Ceremonies will conclude with the playing of "Taps" and a rifle volley by the American Legion squad.

There is considerable knowledge available about servicemen and women from Archuleta County who died in service to their country or since their discharges. Our county lost 27 residents in four major wars: eight in World War I, 15 in World War II, one in Korea and three in Vietnam. Eleven are buried at Hilltop cemetery, some are buried in private cemeteries, some in Chama, Durango, Arlington National Cemetery, France, North Africa, Okinawa and the Philippines. Two were lost at sea in the South Pacific in WW II. According to the records, 282 veterans are buried in Hilltop Cemetery and 24 are buried in private cemeteries in the county.

Total American War dead to date is 1,298,001. America officially knows of the following statistics: Revolutionary War, 25,324; War of 1812, 2,260; Mexican War, 13,283; Civil War-Union forces, 360,222; Civil War-Confederate forces, 260,000; Spanish American War, 2,446; World War I, 116,516; World War II, 405,399; Korean War 54,246; Vietnam War, 58,000; Persian Gulf War, 305. Gulf War and War on Terrorism is still being conducted, so figures for these killed in action where not concluded.

For information on veterans' benefits please call or stop by the Veterans Service Office located on the lower floor of the Archuleta County Courthouse. The office number is 264-2304, the fax number is 264-5949, and e-mail is The office is open from 8 to 4, Monday through Thursday, 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.

Shepherd's Staff

By Rev. Richard A. Bolland

Our Savior Lutheran Church

Good news is Christ crucified-risen

During the past four decades many Christian denominations have become, well, sappy. Theology has been abandoned for something called the "Social Gospel" which is just doing nice things for people.

Now I am not at all opposed to Christians and congregations expressing their faith in doing nice things for people and, indeed, the Holy Scriptures urge us to do so as the fruit of our faith. However, good works are the fruit of the faith, not the faith itself.

If you study the various other religions that populate this globe you will soon discover that they all believe in doing good works, as does Christianity. But there is a huge difference in the way that good works are viewed by the Christian faith. In other religions good works are the means by which we curry "God's" favor.

Here's the plan: If you do enough good things then "God" will be pleased and will let you into heaven or reincarnate you to a higher plain, or grant you more inner enlightenment or whatever the "payoff" is in other religions. In stark contrast to other religions, Christianity views good works simply as the expression of thanksgiving for what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

In other words, good works don't earn us anything because Christ has already done that for us through His suffering, death and resurrection from the dead.

What has sadly happened in some quarters of Christianity is the insane desire to be so friendly with other religions that some have adopted the non-Christian view of good works and abandoned the historic Christian teaching concerning them! To say it another way, some denominations have adopted the unbelieving way of seeing good works as the ultimate expression of our Christian faith. To do so confuses the fruit that grows in the life of the Christian as a result of God's saving grace in Jesus Christ with the earning of merit leading to salvation.

Some refer to this as the "Social Gospel".

What Social Gospel actually means is that it is more important to do nice things for others than it is to proclaim God's great message of eternal salvation through the merits of Christ alone. Ultimately, this puts the cart before the proverbial horse and messes up the message of the Gospel altogether.

I remember once a neighboring pastor in the town in Montana in which I served a congregation called me and asked if I was going to attend the anti-nuclear rally scheduled in our area. Since I am not opposed to nuclear weapons as a deterrent to war, I said that I wasn't planning on being there.

She then got a bit steamed and declared: "Don't you know that the anti-nuclear movement is the Gospel?"

There you have it. Social Gospel at its worst!

Silly me, I always thought that the Gospel was the message told throughout the Holy Scriptures that mankind had fallen into sin and rebellion against God; but God, moved by his Great Love for us, sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to satisfy the holiness and justice of our Creator by sending the punishment we deserved on the innocence of his Son.

I always thought that the gospel was the Good News that we need no longer live in fear of God, but can know Him as our greatest friend who has withheld not even His most precious Son so that we could know beyond a shadow of a doubt that all our sins have been forgiven because they have been fully paid for by Christ alone.

I always thought that the Gospel was the astounding great news that the grave is no longer the end of life, but that through Christ's resurrection from the dead we too shall live again with God forever in heaven.

Well, I still think that the Good News about Christ crucified and risen is the Gospel.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Parks & Rec

By Chris Corcoran

SUN Columnist

Town Recreation Department

Rotary grant means new gear for baseball program

By Chris Corcoran

Staff Writer

The parks and recreation department has received a $1,000 grant from Rotary International of Pagosa Springs. The funds will help finance upgrades for the youth baseball program, including new catchers' gear, safety fencing for the outfields and upgraded uniforms for over 350 athletes.

We offer special thanks to Rotary for helping the department keep up with one of Pagosa's fastest growing youth activities.


The youth baseball program is in progress. This season is expected to be a good one, with more kids signed up than ever before. T-Ball and Coach Pitch games begin at 5 p.m., Rookies games at 6 and Bambino contests at 7:30. Game schedules may be picked up at the fields from Chris Corcoran or one of the scorekeepers.

Basketball camp

Pagosa Springs High School basketball coaches and players will conduct a youth basketball camp in the high school gym June 10-13 for boys and girls in third through eighth grades. Instruction will include all phases of the game, especially shooting.

Camp will also include contests for participants throughout the week. Cost is $50 per child. Each participant will receive a camp basketball and T-shirt provided by Interior Dreams, Lucero Tire, Bob Lynch, Jones Mechanical and Flaco Taco. Thanks for your support of youth programs.

Park Fun

Now is the time to register your children for the Park Fun program. Forms can be obtained at Town Hall. The program will begin June 3. Parents can register their children that day from 7:30-8 a.m. in the Intermediate School gymnasium. There are now 25 openings for children age 5-10. The cost is $80 per week. Activities will include swimming, arts and crafts, and hiking. The program is filling fast so if you're interested call 264-4151, Ext. 232 for information.

Tennis scholarship

Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation is providing a program for Pagosa youngsters who have an interest in learning a new sport, tennis. The program will be for children 9-18, running for three weeks and providing a new tennis racquet participants get to keep.

Instruction will be conducted at 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday for ages 9-12 and at 3 p.m. for ages 13-18. If you have interest in learning about the tennis program and would like to participate, call 264-4151, Ext. 232 for details.

Extension Viewpoints

By Bill Nobles

SUN Columnist

440 fires in state so far this year

Today - 4-H Oil Painting, Extension office, 4:30 p.m.

Drought update

According to researchers at the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University, the state's snowpack, streamflow and reservoir storage continue to decrease while the statewide fire danger is increasing.

"Colorado's 2000-01 low winter snowfall and precipitation, combined with abundant sunny skies which promoted snowmelt, sent the state's snowpack percentages into a downward spiral and will result in decreases in expected stream flow," said state climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences Roger Pielke. "Lower levels of water in reservoirs this year only add to supply concerns."

The Colorado Division of Water Resources reports that in early May the state's snowpack was only 19 percent of average. As a result of the dry conditions, by mid-month more than 440 fires had burned approximately 23,000 acres in Colorado this year according to the Rocky Mountain Coordinating Center of the National Interagency Fire Center.

April marked the eighth consecutive month of below-average snowfall and precipitation for Colorado leaving the statewide snowpack on May 1 at a record low. The lowest snowpack percentages continue to be measured across southern Colorado, with the Rio Grande and combined San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel basins reporting only 6 percent of average. The North Platte basin at 44 percent of average has the highest snowpack in the state. Snowpack melt across Colorado has been progressing six to eight weeks earlier than normal, however, the state's recent cooler weather has slowed the melting to some extent.

According to the Colorado Drought Task Force, statewide streamflow forecasts include much below average (50 percent to 70 percent of normal) for a small portion of the South Platte and Colorado river basins, and extremely below average (25 percent to 50 percent of normal) for the remainder of the South Platte and Colorado basins as well as the Yampa river basin. In southern Colorado, forecasts include a combination of extremely below average and exceptionally below average streamflow (0 to 25 percent of normal) for the Animas, San Juan, Gunnison, Dolores, Rio Grande and Arkansas basins.

The state's Colorado Drought Watch newsletter reports that reservoir storage across Colorado was 86 percent of average at the beginning of May. With increased summertime water demands, along with low inflows, reservoir storage is expected to be severely reduced throughout the upcoming months.

Livestock forage and irrigation water may be further threatened if current dry conditions continue. For more information about drought-related agricultural information, visit the Web site at

The Colorado Drought Task Force, of which Pielke is a member, was to meet today in Denver to discuss the state's drought situation. The task force is charged with overseeing Colorado's drought plan and will discuss current water availability status, short and long term forecasts, current and anticipated drought impacts as well as preparedness activities.

The Colorado Climate Center, housed in Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Science, provides information and expertise on weather and climate patterns for the state of Colorado. Pielke and research associate Nolan Doesken issue mid-month Colorado drought advisories throughout the spring and summer in conjunction with the center's new Web site at that provides access to current drought data.

The site includes a special drought section with links to monthly Colorado Drought Watch newsletters, Colorado Drought Task Force reports and meeting minutes, water conservation and drought planning information, daily updated snowpack data, water supply and precipitation reports, and streamflow forecasts. The site additionally offers a variety of information regarding all aspects of Colorado's climate and weather.

Arts Line

By P.R. Bain

PREVIEW Columnist

Gallery celebrating 10th year tonight

This is the Pagosa Springs Arts Council's 10th anniversary of occupying the quaint gallery in Town Park. A celebration will be held 5-7 p.m. at the gallery featuring works of past presidents.

Photography by Jan Brookshier, Phyl Daleske and Jeff Laydon, Joan Rowher's stained glass and Carol Fulenwider's water colors will be on display tonight through June 12. Entertainment and refreshments will be provided.

The Pagosa Fiber Festival is Friday through Sunday with fiber classes Friday at the Methodist Church on Lewis Street and on Saturday and Sunday there will be demonstrations, animals used for fleece and fiber, fashion shows and food vendors. Call 731-2729 for more information.

Do you like to make bird houses?

Here's your chance to take part in the council's second annual Pet Pride Day Bird House Contest on Saturday, June 1. All bird houses must be of original design and built by the exhibitor. The three categories are children under 10, those 10 to 18 years old, and adults.

There is a limit of two bird houses per person and a $5 fee per entry. Prizes will be awarded in each category. Participants have the option of donating their work to the council or to the Humane Society. Entries may be dropped off at the gallery Tuesday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Deadline is May 31 before 5 p.m. For more information, call Joanne at 264-5020 or pick up an entry form at the gallery.

For a fun treat for the kids, the council is offering Summer Arts Camp at the elementary school June 10-27, Monday through Thursday each week. Call 264-5020 for information.

David and Carol Brown's Bootjack Ranch will be the setting for the classical musical festival Music in the Mountains and it is a sellout. The Durango-based festival is in its 16th season and will present two concerts featuring world-class artists this summer at the ranch located northeast of Pagosa Springs.

Meischa Semanitzky, festival artistic director and conductor, said, "We're delighted that David and Carol Brown have offered their beautiful ranch as a site for Music in the Mountains and hope this is just the beginning of a summer tradition in Pagosa Springs."

A special thanks goes out to Stephanie Jones, instructor and director of the council division, San Juan Festival Ballet, for her part in the success of the spring ballet event last week.

Businesses interested in placing flyers in our quarterly newsletter may call Stephanie at 264-5068.

The Arts Council needs a volunteer to keep up our scrapbook. It isn't hard. Call Joanne at 264-5020 if you would like to do this.

On the second Thursday of every month, there are council interviews and updated information on KWUF 1400 AM and you can check out the Web site at

Library News

By Lenore Bright

PREVIEW Columnist

Closed for weekend parking lot paving

The library will be closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday for the Memorial Day weekend. The parking lot will be surfaced and cured during that time.

New display

Is your water safe? Where does your water come from? Please, please understand the severity of this drought. Yes, the river could dry up along with the many little lakes around here.

We have an informational display on a variety of water issues that need our attention. Come learn about the Colorado Water Protection Project. This campaign is an attempt to educate us about unknowingly harming local water resources through common household activities. You can learn the three major contributors to water pollution. And you can make a difference by modifying simple household activities. This is a project of the League of Women Voters.

You can learn more by visiting their Web site at

New books

Barb Draper suggests "The Persian Pickle Club" by Sandra Dallas. This is a delightful little story that takes place in the 1930s in Harveyville, Kan. The Persian Pickle Club is a group of ladies dedicated to exchanging gossip and putting their quilting skills to good use. When a new member stirs up a dark secret, the women must band together.

The story explores small-town eccentricities with affection. Sandra Dallas lives in Denver.

"The Telling of the World," edited by W. S. Penn, is a collection of Native American art and stories. The anthology contains legends and stories from many Native American tribes and nations - Mohawk, Sioux, Cree, Nez Perce, Yakima, Cherokee, Zuni and more. The tales were collected from both traditional and contemporary sources. These stories are richly illustrated with the paintings, sculpture and drawings created by contemporary artists, and also pictures of historically significant artifacts. Penn is a professor at Michigan State University. He is of Nez Perce, Osage, and English descent.

"Sunset Hillside Landscaping" discusses building retaining walls, terraces and steps; and gives guidance on gardening on sloping land. On page 84, the book discusses the actual planning of an entire garden. An excellent guide for plotting your property and planning the landscaping. You can have professional results following this book.

We also have a number of books on drought tolerant plants with waterwise gardening tips.

Summer reading

Each year we hold a six-week summer reading program for children of all ages. This year, it starts the week of June 17. This is the time we bring out all of the new books for our children's area.

One purpose of the program is instilling the fun of reading in our children. During the six weeks, we have contests, puzzles and prizes for those who have signed up. There is no pressure to read - we just want participants to look forward to library trips. The children sign a contract and must decide how many books they want to read during the six weeks. We encourage parents to let the children make that decision and help them understand the meaning of a contract. There is an abundance of studies showing that children who read in the summer don't lose their skills and will continue to do well in school.

Another purpose of the program is to start preschoolers learning about the library, and the joy of reading. We will have story time each Friday morning. The theme of this year's program is "Reading, Rhythm and Rhyme." Sign your family up the week of June 17.

Poetry anthology

The collection of poetry entries is processed and can be checked out now. Again, thanks to all who entered.


Thanks to Don and Ethel Rasnic for financial help in memory of Jean Keane McWhirter and Dorothy Masco. Thanks for materials from Alice and Inez Seavy, Mary Madore, Sally High, Scotty Gibson, Susan Welch, Sherry Murray, Inge Tinkenberg, Anita Hinger and David Hicks.

Business News
Biz Beat
Carl Nevitt owns and operates Big Sky Studio. This is a home business involving a full-service stained glass studio. Work for sale and to order includes doors, windows, panels, and lamps done from customer designs and in Tiffany-Prairie or Art Deco styles.

Repair work is featured at Big Sky Studio and Nevitt can provide tools, glass and other supplies to local craftspeople. Workshops are also available.

Big Sky Studio is open seven days a week, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Call 731-5374.


Carmin Carnley

Carmin Janae Carnley, daughter of Tom and Jan Carnley of Pagosa Springs, has been named to the dean's list at Fort Lewis College and her name will be posted with those of other honorees in the Spotlight on Academic Excellence showcase in Education Business Hall. Carmin is a 1998 graduate of Pagosa Springs High School and will graduate from Fort Lewis in December. Wedding plans also are nearing for Carmin. She is engaged to Jake Cox and the wedding is set for June 15.

Rusty W. Nabors

Marine Corps Cpl. Rusty W. Nabors, son of Linda and Jerry Nabors of Pagosa Springs, was recently deployed in a combined arms exercise to Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twenty-nine Palms, Calif.

During the annual eight-week exercise, Nabors and fellow Marines with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., conducted tactical training and operations with other units using various weapons, tactical vehicles and artillery to improve combat readiness.

Nabors is a 1999 graduate of Pagosa Springs High School who joined the Corps in July 1999.

Melissa Buckley

The family of Melissa Buckley of Pagosa Springs is proud to announce her graduation May 11 from Colorado State University with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism and technical communication. She will begin working for a magazine in California in early June.

Sean Downing

Sean Downing, an English teacher at Pagosa Springs High School, is more than that to his students now. He was named May 15 as the Wal-Mart Four Corners Regional Teacher of the Year, an honor carrying a $500 stipend for the school. He is now eligible for the firm's Colorado Teacher of the Year award and a $5,000 grant. Nominees for the award are judged on the basis of essays written by their students.



Taking a trip into the past

Museum opens with new exhibit, gift shop

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Flip on the lights at the San Juan Historical Society's Pioneer Museum, 1st and Pagosa streets, and the history of the county comes to life.

Over there is the dentist's chair used by Dr. Bert D. Ellsworth who lived in Pagosa Springs from 1911-1968. The old-fashioned chair and cuspidor were in use, it seems, up until 1962. When it was moved from his office to the museum, old teeth could still be found rolling around at its base.

Back here in a corner is a wooden Murphy bed that might have been slept on by Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt.

On a wall is the coat made by May Carlin, a frontier woman who owned property up on Fourmile Road. The coat was made from the hide of her favorite horse when the trusty steed died, Jean Taylor, president of the historical society and a relative of Carlin's, said.

"She (Carlin) was quite a character. She could ride anything with hair and rope anything with horns."

The fabric of local history, including the coat, will be the featured display at the museum when it opens for the season Saturday. Volunteers have gone through boxes, peered into cupboards and borrowed some items to show off the materials used to warm, clothe and decorate the lives of the pioneers in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

A series of glass cases are used to display some of the more fragile items, including: vestments from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church; several crazy quilts, a fad in the 1880s; fine embroidery; hand-dyed woolen fabric from the Civil War era; a piece of woven Navajo cloth dated from 1890-1906; and a heavily-beaded flapper dress from the 1930s.

The brightly colored vestments in green and red with intricate detail are especially eye-catching. Taylor said this is the first time these items have been on display.

"They were in a cupboard," she said, probably put there for lack of a better place and forgotten. "We got to cleaning and found them."

Walk a little farther and visitors can see an early 20th Century miniature pine tree quilt made by Sally Nossaman (DeCook) of Pella, Iowa, for her sister-in-law Emma Nossaman, a resident of Pagosa Springs. The tiny, one-inch triangles that create the tree pattern were individually pieced by hand, most likely from material in her scrapbag, Cindy Hamilton, a local quilt appraiser, said.

In the next case is an example of an 1880s basket quilt, also hand-pieced. The basket design is formed using scraps of "shirting prints," materials used for women's shirts typically worn as a second layer between the blouse and the undergarments, Hamilton said.

The idea of so much layering - considering how tiny the dresses themselves appear when compared to today's average body size - is truly mind-boggling. And then, once a woman was dressed, including her corset, which was the first thing on in the morning and the last thing off at night, she might head out for a day in the fields or grab the wash tub for several hours of scrubbing by hand.

"It'd be three or four layers for some of these ladies that they put on and took off every day," Taylor said. "I think I would've had to rebel."

Hamilton pointed out yet another interesting example of 1880s clothing, a grey everyday dress worn by women for work at home, and only at home. Going to town required a whole different attire. The dress is made of a "mourning print," another fad that probably reached as far as Pagosa Springs. Mourning prints were cotton, either greys or blacks.

In another cabinet, set off by what could be either a crazy quilt or a signature quilt, is a brightly colored, shiny pillow, one of three made by Taylor's grandmother in the 1920s.

"Grandpa wasn't wearing his ties, so she fixed them into pillows," Taylor said. "He hated ties anyway." Pillows like this one and the crazy quilts, pieced together with fancier materials like silks, satins or velvet, added a touch of decoration in the homes of the pioneer women. The materials weren't as strong as cotton and tended not to wear as well.

The cabinets aren't the only place to find beautiful fiber arts in the museum. An excellent example of Kate Greenaway needlework covers a small table near the entrance. Greenaway was a British illustrator of children's books whose designs inspired embroidery patterns called Redwork. The one on display at the museum is older and particularly detailed, Hamilton said.

Taylor said the fiber display will run through July 1, followed by a quilt show and then a nature photography display. Rotating thematic displays throughout the summer is one of the ways the historical society hopes to draw in more visitors this year. The volunteers have also opened a small gift shop in the museum.

The Pioneer Museum is celebrating its 26th year of operation. It first opened in 1976, five years after the San Juan Historical Society officially incorporated. Finding enough space for storage and display took up most of the five years in between. Collecting items to show off, including horsehair, bearhair and buffalo hair robes used in sleighs, was much easier.

"People had things in sheds and barns," Taylor said. "We let them know about the museum and we had more stuff come in than we could handle."



Livestock feed sparse

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Archuleta County livestock owners face a growing quandary.

Perhaps, it should be called a nongrowing quandary, because it relates directly to a rapidly increasing shortage of hay for feed purposes.

At least one horse owner told The SUN, "We're going to Las Lunas (N.M.) to get a load to tide us over."

Others are looking wherever they can to find hay, regular or alfalfa, at a price they can afford. As the supply dwindles, the price rises dramatically.

One area dealer, Kent Gordon of Pagosa Hay Co., said he "got a break" when he found a San Luis Valley farmer who irrigates with artesian wells, and committed to buy his whole crop. He's under contract for 24 semi loads, 640 bales, over the next six months.

But even in the San Luis Valley there are problems. Potato farmers are the most common there. They depend on the artesian aquifer being replenished each spring by runoff from winter's snows. This year there is no runoff. They are still planting, but with no assurance they'll have crops.

There are many facets to the problem in addition to the drought.

Many farms in Southwest Colorado which once raised hay have been subdivided. Those not yet developed are used as grazing land, but even that will be curtailed this year because of the lack of water.

Farms in the Allison-Arboles area and on Florida Mesa between Bayfield and Durango which normally get two or three hay cuttings per year may get only one this year - if that.

And the problem deepens for them. Usually they water after hay crops are in to provide winter grazing land for horses kept at higher elevations the rest of the year. If there is no water for irrigation, there will be no winter grazing land and thus an even tougher market for livestock owners.

A spokesperson at Day Lumber, another prominent area dealer, said all half-ton bales have been spoken for and they've sold 800 since December. They hope to have more after first crops are in - about the end of June - but there is no assurance it will be available.

Rochelle Ward at Day Lumber said there is a supplemental bag feed available at $7.73 per 50 pounds which has all the nutrition - protein, vitamins and minerals - the animals need. But, she said, a filler such as straw or hay is needed to keep the gut open and in good shape so the animals don't founder. The bagged feed can be used to extend the available hay when it is in short supply.

Ward said people who can't get hay are beginning to sell off their horses, mules and cattle. "They are being forced to pick and choose which livestock they will keep. And it could get more severe," she said.

In short, area livestock owners and dealers say, if there is no rain soon a drastic situation may become hopeless.

Already, there are indications some owners are selling off livestock because they either can't find, or can't afford prices for hay.

Still another contributing factor to the growing shortage is, apparently, the needs of major dairies on the front range. Gordon said they are buying up rights to whatever hay and alfalfa growers can produce, forcing smaller dealers to search ever-increasing distances for crops.

A number of horse trainers and boarders are reportedly seeking to form a cooperative to import from the Chandler, Ariz., area. Still another was reportedly dealing for crops from Wisconsin but the upper Midwest has been heavily flooded in the past two weeks and crops there may have been lost for reasons exactly opposite the conditions here.

"If they can find hay, they'd better latch onto it," said Pat Candelaria of Boot Hill Tack and Feed in Pagosa Springs. "I've been searching and searching for a supplier," he said.

Candelaria said he bought the last hay available from a farmer in Bloomfield, N.M., and expected to replenish his supply of alfalfa hay cubes this week after being "literally cleaned out by people desperate for animal food." He said he and Co-op of Durango are sharing a load, three tons staying here.

He also noted the price of whole oats has gone up dramatically. "I was selling for $7.45 a bag," he said, "but my latest purchase cost me more than that ... over $9 a bag. I'll have to go $10 just to make a small profit."

Duane Cugnini, with Hi Country Cattle Auction in Hesperus, sees first-hand the sorrow on the faces of his customers.

"We're right in the middle of this deadly disaster," he said. "Old friends, who for years have brought us their calves in the spring are now bringing us whole or partial herds."

Cugnini said the firm, in a normal year, would be selling 30-70 animals a week at this time of year. "Last week we hit 700, this week will be the same or higher and next week looks even worse for those whose livelihood has always been their livestock."

His own family, he said, has a farm below Lemon Dam. "On May 5 we had a 30-day supply of water," he said. "The site is in hay and if the water lasts we may get one cutting."

But many people won't get even that. Cugnini said many of those culling their herds "tell me they won't get even one cutting off their own lands and that neighbors from whom they've always been able to buy in the past are also looking at no crops."

The auction manager said many of those bringing their herds in now are saying, " 'I'm going to unload half now.' They're hoping for rain, living the farmers' perpetual dream that nature will provide. If the rains don't come, they've said they'll be back with the balance of their herds."

Four of the ranchers consigning their stock this week, he said, have never done so before, except for the spring market. And they have one thing more in common, he added:

"They've never seen anything like this before in 30, 40, 50 years in the area. Southwest Colorado is a dust bin."

On the Red Mesa area, he said, where haying has been a way of life, "There is no water ... not a drop; and there'll be no hay. Even the people who have filled our barns for us every year have nothing to harvest this year."

It isn't just a localized drought, either.

Everywhere you go, everyone you talk to has a horror story about the seriousness of the situation.

One such man is Richard Olguin of Ignacio. For more than 30 years his family has been developing a herd of fine cattle, selling only as needed, and always being able to graze the stock on Ute Indian lands. This year those lands are barren. And, as told in the Sunday Denver Post, Olguin has been forced to sell off 85 percent of his 500-animal herd.

His stock was auctioned Thursday at Centennial Livestock Auction in Fort Collins.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture operates a Hay Directory for the state, but right now is only collecting data on where hay will be available and stockpiling names of those who are in need.

The directory, however, will not be available on line until August, according to a person in the office. She said they had received a few calls from people thinking they already have an available list of hay sources.

"We have just started to compile the data," she said. "I know the situation is bad all over the state and the calls we've received seem to indicate Southern Colorado is hit particularly hard by the shortage."

Candelaria perhaps summed it up best:

"Even if you have irrigation the hot winds and sun in the daytime dry out the fields and the temperatures are so cool at night that the moisture goes even deeper. Because of that neither alfalfa nor hay are able to establish themselves. Those who depend on these crops to support their livestock are facing tough, tough choices. If there is no rain -  soon, there'll be nothing but dust and prairie dogs in most of the fields."

Fiber fest draws national convention

By Dave Belt

Special to The PREVIEW

The Pagosa Springs Fiber Festival will be held May 24-26, with special workshops at the Community United Methodist Church the first day, and an exposition at the county fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

The second two days of the fair feature fleece and fiber bearing livestock such as sheep, goats, llamas, rabbits and alpacas. Additional features will include shearing demonstrations, 60 fiber arts vendors, spinning, weaving and felting demonstrations; food vendors and a daily fiber fashion show. The public is urged to attend this educational and entertaining event.

This year's show also heralds a new addition coming soon.

The Navajo-Churro Sheep Association, based in Ojo Caliente, N.M., has selected Pagosa Springs as the site for its 2003 or 2004 national convention.

The site selection committee will make a final decision on the specific year to bring the annual convention to Pagosa Springs during a planning session in Boonville, Calif., next month.

The convention will be held in conjunction with the annual Pagosa Fiber Festival held over the Memorial Day weekend at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds.

Factors the selection committee cited for choosing Pagosa Springs include: availability of hotel rooms for the expected 250-plus delegates and families; livestock facilities for the sheep that members will bring; and availability of meeting room facilities such as the new Pagosa Community Center.

The Pagosa Fiber Festival, Inc. is a nonprofit organization established in 2001 to educate, support, and promote those who raise fiber-bearing livestock, the fiber arts, and the associated rural lifestyle. The organization also sponsors the annual Pagosa Fiber Festival to provide a venue where the general public can observe all aspects of the fiber industry, from raising of the livestock, to shearing, to processing of the fleeces, to production of finished goods. Preliminary plans call for the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association to conduct training workshops and show ring competitions as part of the regular schedule of festival events.

Navajo-Churro Sheep are an endangered species. First introduced to North America by the Spaniards in the 1500s, they are prized for their remarkable hardiness and adaptability. By the 17th Century, the Churro had become the mainstay of Spanish ranches and villages along the upper Rio Grande Valley. Native Indians acquired flocks of Churro for food and fiber through trading.

Within a century, herding and weaving had become a major economic asset for the Navajo. It was from Churro wool that the early Rio Grande, Pueblo, and Navajo textiles were woven - a fleece admired by collectors for its luster, silky feel, variety of natural colors, and durability.

In the 1850s, thousands of Churros were trailed west to supply the California Gold Rush. Most of the remaining Churros of the Hispanic ranches were crossed with fine wool rams to supply the demand of garment wool caused by the increased population and the Civil War. Concurrently, in 1863, the U.S. Army decimated the Navajo flocks in retribution for continued Indian depredations. In the 1900s, further "improvements" and stock reductions were imposed by U.S agencies upon the Navajo flocks. True survivors were to be found only in isolated villages in Northern New Mexico and in remote canyons of the Navajo Indian Reservation.

In the 1970s, several individuals began acquiring Churro sheep with the purpose of preserving the breed and revitalizing Navajo and Hispanic flocks. Several flocks have been established, and the Navajo Sheep Project has introduced cooperative breeding programs in some Navajo and Hispanic flocks.

The Pagosa Fiber Festival was designed to show that raising fleece animals is a key opportunity for many in Archuleta County.

Traditional methods of turning a profit directly from raw wool, no matter the species, may no longer be a feasible way to turn a significant profit. However, there are alternatives: "Mini-mills" that process small batches of fleece at reasonable cost, animal owner/fiber artists, fiber cooperatives, small ranch stores, and the Internet are all adding new dimensions to fiber production in this country.

Production of finished goods from materials that a rancher has raised him or herself is known as "value-added merchandising." These value added goods, if produced and marketed smartly, can significantly raise the profit margin of fiber growers. A simplified example: 20 ounces of alpaca fiber, if sold as raw fleece, would net about $60 retail. Those same 20 ounces of fiber, if knitted into a sweater, would retail for about $240 - a fourfold increase.

Although not a panacea for the entire problem, the Pagosa Fiber Festival was designed to help local ranchers and fiber artists better understand this value-added concept. The festival serves as a link between the producers of raw materials, professional instructors, demonstrating fiber artists, and the general public.

For more information about the Pagosa Fiber Festival or the Navajo-Churro Sheep Association, contact Dave or Suzy Belt at or (970) 731-2729, Ext. 4.


By John M. Motter

The ups and downs of pioneer travel

Last week I repeated some of the eyewitness accounts supplied by San Juan Country pioneers. I can't resist repeating more of these wonderful stories this week. All are taken from "Pioneers of the San Juan Country," a book now out of print but available in the restricted reference sections of most libraries in this part of the country. I have selected a few accounts of travel and freighting. I can't resist making a few comments following the various items quoted.

From the story of Otto Mears' life (the time could have been from the early 1870s until the railroad arrived in any particular locale) we read: " ... It is impossible for us now to realize what a huge proposition this business (transportation and freighting) was in the San Juans. Tens of thousands of oxen and mules, burros, and horses were required, great quantities of equipment of every kind including heavy wagons of all kinds, lighter rigs, stagecoaches, harness, pack saddles; everything that was wanted or needed had to be transferred with the aid of animals over rough roads and hazardous trails. Thousands of men and boys made their money, and some made small fortunes, in the various lines of the business of transportation, all the way from being a bull whacker to being the owner of a line of fine stage coaches and handsome horses ... "

From the reminisces of Peter Scott, 1875: " ... I went to Pueblo in 1875, to Silverton in 1877. Silverton then had between four and five hundred people. I was a freighter for a time and used to go from Parrott City to Taos for provisions. I freighted lumber with oxen over Grassy Hill, sixteen yoke to the wagon ... "

John L. McNeil reported: "... At Alamosa I had seen the whole country covered with mule and bull teams, freighter's outfits, hundreds of them; and at night their camp fires presented a weird scene. A.E. Reynolds freighted with mules; he drove five small mules abreast, twenty mules to the team ... "

Motter's comments: Freight routes into San Juan Country moved in every direction from east to west. The earliest routes from the south were through Tierra Amarilla. Further north, the railroad reached Fort Garland 1877-78. From Fort Garland travelers and freight moved across the valley and crossed Cochetopa Pass to the Gunnison, Lake City, Ouray areas. Other freight moved through Del Norte up the Rio Grande, across Stony Pass (Grassy Hill) and into the Silverton collection of mining communities. Another route, probably not before 1877, crossed Cumbres Pass, the ultimate route chosen by the railroad. Finally, a small amount of traffic used Elwood Pass. Wolf Creek Pass was never used until it opened for motor vehicles in 1916.

From the story of pioneers Augustine and Martha Roberts: "... While in Canon City my husband decided to accompany a party that was going to the southwest part of the state He purchased a good team and heavy road wagon in which he placed our household goods, including a stove, cooking utensils, and bedding. The last week in April 1875 they left for the Animas Valley, going by way of Tierra Amarilla, where he purchased his supplies from the T.D. Burns general store ... 1876 was an abundant year of crops, especially of potatoes and wheat. Our four and one-half acre planting of wheat yielded three hundred and sixty bushels winnowed, after being tramped by horses. The necessity of a grist mill became apparent, my husband constructed the first, using Mexican stone burrs made in New Mexico, which he himself transported from Tierra Amarilla ... "

Motter's comment: If the Roberts came through TA in 1875, in order to cross the mountains they had to go south, perhaps by way of Ojo Caliente and back up the Chama River Valley. Cumbres Pass was not open for wagons that early. Any other route would not have passed through TA.

From the adventures of pioneer William Valiant we learn: " ... One time I was freighting out (from Parrott City?) with four mules on a kind of road to the end of the railroad at Chama. I met the Stallsteimers (sic) of Pagosa; they were tearing along, their mules wet with sweat. They shouted 'For God's sake go back, the Indians are on the warpath!' But I didn't have sense enough to be afraid so I went along. I got to Pagosa; the news was stronger there. This side of Chama on Bear Creek I looked down the hill on a string of Indians a half mile long - there were two hundred of them on horseback. I set my Winchester against the seat and went right along; when I got close I saw a white trader was with them, so I knew everything was o.k. ... "

Motter's comment: This must have been 1880 because that is the year the end of the railroad was at Chama. What else can I add, except to note the frequent mention of mules used for freighting.

The Becker family lived in mining camps all over the West before moving to the Animas Valley. Louisa Becker Jackson reports: "... The Becker family left Virginia City in August, 1880, stopped at Gunnison, where they met a friend of ten years back, who invited them for supper and to spend the night. The next morning they pushed on to Alamosa (a little trip of 200 miles with team and wagon) where they stayed a month; then to Antonito at the end of the railroad where they spent the winter. They were now following the railroad.

"April 1, 1881, they took down their tents, packed their boxes, and sold the team. They took the first passenger train out of Antonito for Chama. In early spring Chama was a lovely place, with wonderful trees and flowers everywhere, and no snow but lots of high water. The Beckers had a beautiful camp spot by the river but they stayed there only a month and then left for Amargo, where the water was alkali and they had the worst camp they ever had.

"This was the jumping off place; the railroad ended there and the roads were bad but they were determined to keep on coming, so Mr. Becker bought a fine team of mules and a wagon and with several people as passengers they started out. After a terribly hard trip they arrived at Durango in May 1881 ... "

Motter's comment: We don't know the route chosen by the Beckers to travel from Amargo to Durango. They could have come through Pagosa Springs, they could have come up the Navajo River through Juanita, or they could have used the old Caracas route.

Mrs. C.W. Romney, editor of one Durango's first newspapers, 'The Durango Record,' described her trip from Cumbres Pass to Durango in December of 1880. According to the article, Cumbres was called Alta at that time: " ... Alta is the working terminus of the railroad, the tracks, however, being completed two or three miles further on. A night in Alta, and in the morning we run down a section to the end of the track, and betake ourselves to the carriage brought in the train with us, together with four splendid horses, eager for the journey of which they wot so little.

"Blankets and robes and baggage are all arranged, the whip cracks and off we go so gallant and gay. The leaders veer and go down into a snow bank, five or six feet deep. After considerable plunging they are reined back into the road, and off we dash again for a few rods, only to be brought to a standstill in the rear of a train of about a dozen freight wagons in line awaiting extrication of a broken up wagon ahead in a cut. A part of our company go to the rescue. The wagon is, in time, lifted from the cut and having meanwhile, taken our way around the rest of the freighters, we cut in ahead and start down the mountain.

"We held our breaths, shut our eyes, and hung on. For fifteen hundred feet our horses walked on their heads and our carriage stood on end with brakes set and wheels locked. At least such is the supposition, for otherwise how could they have ever gotten down that mountain side? The railroad winds around the mountain for several miles to accomplish the same descent which the wagon road takes at one dreadful leap as it were. A little further on and we reach the beautiful Chama Valley.

"We take dinner at the village of Chama, an embryo town of some prospective importance, especially in the near future as it is will be the working terminus of the railroad very shortly. People near there told us that the road by way of the Navajo was in the best condition so we took it. If that was the best, what must the worst have been?"

The first night was spent in a Mexican plaza where Mrs. Romney says they were entertained with the kindest hospitality. She then continues.

"The next morning we struck the Navajo and we didn't think it much of a strike before we got through with it. We crossed the stream, and the reason why we crossed the stream was 'cause we crossed the stream, sir. That wasn't the proper crossing, and so we crossed back again, and both times we broke in at every step, and plunged and tore until we got out again; for it is unnecessary to state that there are no bridges in this country except those of ice. After this experience the horses objected to the next crossing, but we argued the case with them, and being blooded animals, they listened to reason and took our advice and the cracking ice again. If they had been mules they would be there yet.

"To make a long story short, we crossed that stream 30 times - that we counted, to say nothing of the times when we were so scared that we couldn't count - and the San Juan which we struck next, sixteen times with a similar reservation."

Eventually the thoroughbred leaders began to flag, so the travelers borrowed a horse from a Castilian. He was "shed" at the next stopping place where a span of mules was secured. These were 'discharged" at the Ute Agency on the Rio de los Pinos where, Mrs. Rodney writes, "We secured some government horses who seem to have imbibed the spirit supposed to animate public functionaries for they took their own time and walked the rest of the way to Durango, regardless of threats and blows.

"Our fine carriage had succumbed to the force of circumstances about midway on our journey, and a lumber wagon had been substituted. Although our wheelers held out, we didn't make half as impressive an appearance on the last half of our route as the first. Of course it stormed, snowed, and sleeted, but we had a nice time nevertheless and saw much that was charming. Owing to the adverse elements, we were somewhat over three days and three nights out from the end of the track ... "

Motter's comment: Without going through a long explanation of my rationale, I believe Mrs. Romney left Chama, traveled in her carriage to Navajo, a frontier community on the Navajo River north of Dulce, then followed the Navajo River to the San Juan River, the San Juan River to Arboles, and then overland from Arboles to Ignacio. I make that assumption because of the mention of staying in a Mexican plaza (there were no communities between Chama and Chromo), and the many crossings of the San Juan would not have been necessary. If they had traveled through Pagosa, only one crossing of the San Juan would be necessary, that in town. The route as I have described it was the route followed by the railroad between Amargo and Ignacio. Perhaps some grade work had already been performed along the way making it possible to follow the route with horse and buggy. Fun, isn't it?

Pacing Pagosa

By Richard Walter

Zero-tolerance due for park vandals

Pagosa Springs town officials are understandably upset by recent incidents of vandalism and they are adopting a zero-tolerance stance.

Parents should be aware their children will be charged if caught vandalizing public facilities and bills for the damages incurred will be sent to the parents.

The most recent example was a water balloon fight by some sixth graders in Town Park.

Sounds innocent enough, just kids having some outdoor fun and celebrating the nearing end of school.

What doesn't appear on the surface is the fact there was over $100 in damage to Town Park rest room facilities, including a broken water outlet. It took more than four hours of overtime for public employees to clean up the mess.

"We've warned youngsters on many occasions that damaging or destroying public property is breaking the law," said one official. "We've tried to make it clear that we cannot tolerate youngsters tearing up facilities their taxpaying parents helped provide."

The tolerant attitude is at an end. Anyone caught vandalizing park or other town property will be prosecuted, no matter who their parents may be.

Town employees have also found - on a regular basis - picnic benches damaged by bicyclists who build ramps up them at one end and use the tables as a speed launch for a jump. Regular repairs of the tables are routine. On other occasions, the benches have been tossed into the river.

In the future, parents of those causing the damage will be billed for it.

Increased police patrols of all town park facilities are imminent. Prevention will be the theme rather than reaction, but reaction will be swift if the prevention method fails.

The town cannot station 24-hour-a-day patrols in the parks, so officials are counting on parents to instill a degree of wisdom into their children who use those facilities.

Mind your manners or pay the price might be the motto.

Town Park, Centennial Park and the River Walk are attractive areas for visitors to the community. They can only stay attractive if every resident keeps in mind the fact the parks and their facilities are there for everyone, not for their destruction at the hands of uncaring youth.

South Pagosa Park and the sports complex south of Golden Peaks Stadium also have been vandalism and theft targets and they, too, are public property.

Break-ins at the refreshment stand, theft of ball field bases, persistent littering and driving of grass-rutting off-road vehicles on the playing areas create continuing problems for developing athletes.

It was noted last week that more than 300 youth are signed up for summer baseball leagues this year. Add to that the number of adults involved in softball leagues playing at the sports complex and you have perhaps as many as 500 who would be affected if the facilities were shut down because of the continuing destructive activities of a select few.

The trashing of Pagosa's outdoor entertainment venues cannot be tolerated - by town officials or by reasonable parents.

It is time for a display of parental responsibility for the control of activities by area youngsters.

Parents need to know where their children are, who they are with and what they are doing. And, if you're not sure, it might be wise to check up on them before you find a policeman standing at your door with your resident vandal.

If you are not in control of your child's activities, you may well have to pay the price of his or her exuberant flaunting of the law.

The off-road motorized vehicles also have been spotted recently racing the pedestrian and bicycling trails on Reservoir Hill. Not only are they destructive to the paths, they are specifically forbidden on the trail system.

And, with the extreme dryness of the area, a spark from one of the machines could result in fire destroying one of our finest recreation and outdoor areas. I don't think any parent would want a bill for that loss delivered to their home.

Similarly, skateboarders using the U.S. Post Office sidewalks and driveways for speed ramps create a safety problem for both themselves and postal patrons. Signs prohibiting that activity on federal property have repeatedly been torn down. That simple act is destruction of federal property, and with harsher possible repercussions if the perpetrators are caught.

This community has a park system that others its size can only envy. Witness the number of out of town school buses bringing youngsters here to enjoy our park setting on a regular basis.

But the community also has a vandalism problem not to be envied and which can no longer be hidden.

Parents beware!

If your children are caught vandalizing or destroying public property or abusing it in any way, they will be charged and taken to court. You, as their legal guardian, will be held responsible.

Nip it in the bud. Make sure your children know what can and cannot be done in town parks or, for that matter, anywhere that is not your own property.

In the long run a little stern lecturing in advance may prevent some stern disciplining in the form of fines and/or jail time in the future.

Simply put, show your children the things which would be acceptable in your own yard. Anything not acceptable there will not be acceptable in park facilities and violation of the code would likely be a lot more expensive to both you and your children.

Zero-tolerance is not a threat, officials say.

It is a promise.

Food For Thought

By Karl Isberg

TV, Vegas: Culture's melting pots

Some say this nation is the Great Melting Pot, a place where people from various places, cultures, stations come together and, at first, coexist then, second, meld together to form a new people, a unique blend.

More than a century ago the laboratory and display case was New York City, or any of several other similar metropolises, but the venue changed. In the 20th Century, the intrepid social scientist and cultural adventurer made his or her way to the sprawling checkerboard suburbs and hastily manufactured urban areas of the West and Southwest.

Now, in this infant 21st Century, there are two situations where this phenomenon is naked, opened wide and displayed for all to see: television and Las Vegas.

Avoid them and you lose the chance to learn.

If someone proudly proclaims they would never set foot in Vegas, if they crow about never watching the tube, rest assured they are out of touch with the foundation of contemporary American culture. There is, in fact, good reason to be out of touch with contemporary American culture, but that is beside the point. To truly know us, to have any serious insight into what makes us work and what will drive us through the upcoming decades, you must watch television and, at least once, you must visit Las Vegas and take it all in. Don't worry if you are strapped for time; both are so superficial, you can absorb everything worth knowing in several hours.

That's what I am doing at this moment. I am on a fact-finding mission, in search of paradigms, signs and symbols.

I am transmitting this column from the dark heart of Las Vegas. Thanks to the miracle of the laptop computer and e-mail, I can sally forth from the Culture Desk at The SUN and plumb the depths of our society, sending missives back to the home office as soon as I craft them. Fortunately there is very little gin in the free gin and tonics the cocktail waitresses offer in the casino, so I am in a prime frame of mind.

I am in room 4162, Garden Level, in the seedy bowels of the Tropicana Hotel, smack dab on the corner of Tropicana Avenue and The Strip. The room smells like an old shoe and the air conditioner is vibrating the wall next to me. It is 3 a.m.

Clearly, this is Symbol No. 1.

I brought a team of ace investigators with me on this trip: a municipal administrator, a CPA, a land developer, a major retail distributor and my banker: A cross section of good old American knowhow. We have roamed this landscape together, comparing notes. I have observed, I have learned.

This is a bizarre ark, transporting something of everything, every type of person, an example of every socioeconomic class, drawn together and mashed in the ultra-intense accelerator of Vegas-greed and glitz. The atmosphere admits of few exceptions: All here are bound together by something truly American, even our foreign visitors, of which there are many. This glue binds everyone. It happens so visibly here, because nothing is concealed; it occurs more subtly everywhere else.

How to explain it?

A superficial, average take on this place is invariably parochial and always misguided: From this perspective the town is sinful, corrupt, evil. The pat answer is too easy and misses the point.

What is amplified here in fact exists across this land. This tree grows from a soil common to all: our predominant mode of behavior, rarefied, stripped of non essentials. Vegas mirrors our essence as a culture.

One perceives the meaning of this place only when one contemplates the notion of a frantic mass retreat from stress and concern born of compulsion. But, it is a retreat into an alternative compulsion, an alternate form of stress. This is what we do these days in America: We trade one obsession for another, one fixation for another, one stress for another. They flow one into the next in our internal dialogues, as part of our national mantra.

With compulsion as the foundation, the key moral element here is the sin of waste. This place is a temple of waste. Waste of money, enough to ensure a fairly comfortable life for millions of suffering people. Waste of water, enough to fill reservoirs. Waste of electricity enough to light a small Third World country. Waste of food, with mountains of the stuff taken out the back doors of obscene buffets, deposited in gigantic dumpsters, hauled to landfills in fleets of trucks. Enough to feed millions of people a year.

A waste of time.

It is 3 a.m. Not a half hour ago I saw my new pal Charles crossing the pedestrian bridge between the MGM Grand and New York, New York. The lad looked truly the worse for wear. My fellow investigator Ron and I met Charles when we sat on either side of the poor wretch on a flight to Vegas from Albuquerque. The blend again speaks of this cultural tangle we call our home.

Charles is 23 years old. He is on a special vacation with his girlfriend, Heather. Charles works as a cook at an Albuquerque steak house. He's a tall, skinny goof with a long, wispy goatee. His hat is on backward and he has every available flap of skin pierced with some sort of stainless steel object. There is a tattoo of bulldog on his pipe cleaner of a right calf, just below the hem of his long, baggy shorts. He wears a Megadeath T-shirt and his fingernails are bitten to the quick. He is our future.

Charles and Heather are going to gamble with $50 extra dollars he was able to scrape up for the trip and they have tickets to see a Pantera concert at the Hard Rock. The Pantera concert will be the highlight of a lifetime.

We have wonderful time on the flight. It turns out the young man's appearance belies his essence: naive, shy, insecure. I tell Charles to "Just Say No." He agrees. It's for the best, you know.

Charles is Symbol No. 2.

My banker, Marion, and I investigate the gambling scene on The Strip. It is just like the stock market. We Americans like to take risks - small ones most of the time, granted - but we like to put things on the line. You see that here. As a Canadian lad I meet at a blackjack table says, Americans are arrogant, brash, careless. Yes, I reply, we are: And you embody the rest of the world: You want to be here, to be part of it, to be brash, to risk right along with us. We are all the things you say, but we are more open, more fluid than any of you; our system, for all its flaws, does not tolerate the tyrant and allows, even encourages each and every one of us to act like an idiot. Just look around.

We look around.

This casino is like a huge ash can, full of mind-numbing bonging noises and second-hand smoke.

Symbol No. 3.

Obvious, too, is our short memory.

To judge from the activity here, nothing notable happened within the last year. It is, as our president recommended, business as usual. And our business is supplanting one stress with another. And wasting things.

I ask some of my table mates about their concerns as we whip through one profoundly sad black jack hand after another. At the table are a Finn, a Mexican, two Canadians, my fact-finding partner Ron, and me. No one has any immediate concerns other than climbing out of the considerable financial hole in which he finds himself.

Ah, America.

I will no doubt witness evidence of our collective concern later this morning when I arrive at the airport to catch a flight to the east. There will be imponderably long lines at the security check-in. We will wait and wait and, finally, when we arrive at the checkpoint, we will discover it is manned by pre-GED candidates inflated by a sense of raw power.

Symbol No. 4.

Since they are not allowed to profile people moving through the checkpoints (assuming they know what "profiling" means) the brownshirts will select individuals from the crowd for a thorough search. These microcephalics have been trained to spot suspicious folks: 70-year-old women in wheelchairs, a young, blond father with his infant triplets, Ray Charles and the Raylettes. They probe them mercilessly with wands and detectors.

Symbol No. 5.

Marion and I enjoyed one last, excellent meal here last night.

Right next to a taco stall that sells cheapo simulated Mexican food is one of the other finer restaurants at this end of The Strip: Emeril's, named after the small, furry creature that cooks on the Food Network. The food is expensive, but remarkably fine. From my seat in the interior of the restaurant, I look out to the giant hallway beyond and see a family of Colombians chowing down on those dollar tacos, They are having the time of their life.

Another symbol, perhaps?

I order the crab cake appetizer, the perfectly crisped cakes loaded with lump crab meat and mayonnaise, swimming in a creamy, tart sauce sprinkled with snipped chives. Marion orders the same.

With our second stab at the menu, like true Americans, we diverge. Marion orders a remarkably dark gumbo, the roux cooked to mahogany, the dish loaded with seafood and andouille. I order a bowl of a lobster bisque, a golden concoction blessed with a whiff of sherry.

For the entrees: Marion opts for a grilled red fish, comfy on a succotash-like melange of three beans. I enjoy a pepper-crusted, roasted yellow fin tuna served with a fresh tomato sauce, garnished with a bevy of capers - each encased in its pod, each with a tail of a stem.

We sip our house label chardonnay and watch a group of Cambodians walk past, their hands clutching stacks of five dollar chips. At last, the promised land. Next step, open a small shop in Fullerton.

Yet another symbol.

There is a group of inebriated guys on the balcony above my room, breaking glasses, setting fire to a bedsheet and singing songs in Spanish at the tops of their lungs. One has just tumbled off the balcony and has fallen into a bed of sturdy succulents. I can't concentrate.

I will bring one thing home besides a head full of meaningful images linked in esoteric ways, and a newer, better understanding of my culture: an idea about pan roasted yellow fin.

Every so often, our grocery store stocks frozen, sushi grade yellow fin. I'll buy a couple hunks and thaw them, keeping them cool in the fridge.

First, the sauce.

Fresh tomatoes.

Okay, who am I kidding: high-grade canned tomatoes, drained and seeded.

White onion, fine dice.

A carrot, extra-teensy dice.

A bit of Bell pepper, super mini dice.

A bunch of minced garlic.

I'll sweat the vegetables in olive oil and butter then add the drained and crumbled tomatoes, salt and pepper.

Cook the mess down, seasoning if necessary.

Since no one within 500 miles has any idea where to get the whole caper berry, regular capers in brine will have to do. I'll add a few (being judicious, as always) and a smidge of the vinegar the berries are packed in.

Taste. Does it need an atom or two of sugar? If so, I'll add it. Knobs of butter? I'll add anything I like, come to think of it. I'm arrogant and brash, after all.

For the tuna: Just before cooking, I'll salt liberally and pack the exterior with rough crushed black peppercorns. Heat olive oil in a heavy, oven-proof frying pan. Sear the tuna on both sides then pop the pan in a 375 degree oven. I won't roast it more than a couple minutes: tuna should be rare in the center.

Pop the tuna on a bed of the sauce, garnish with a bit of finely chopped parsley. If I have the time, I'll whip some Yukon Golds, cream and garlic into a high-cholesterol mass and put the tuna atop the mashed potatoes, surrounding the mount with the sauce.


Of course.

When I'm done eating, I'll kick back and watch TV. Do some more cultural research.

Maybe watch one of the numerous shows about Las Vegas. Watch for Charles and Heather.

After that, who knows, maybe I'll burn a bedsheet.