November 21, 2002
Front Page

'Back to black'health district budget OK'd

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

The Upper San Juan Hospital District has officially changed its name for 2003, but the budget will stay much the same.

Dee Jackson, district manager, told the board of directors Tuesday the request to change the name to the Upper San Juan Health Service District was approved. The district now has 10 years to make all the necessary changes to letterhead, signs and other items typically displaying the name.

As for the budget, "We didn't really cut," board member Sue Walan said. After a year of belt-tightening that included a $200,000 slice in May - including about $135,000 in old debts to pay off - to bring the district back to black, they seem to have found a balance that works.

According to income statements for January through October handed out at the meeting, each division of the district is showing marked improvement over 2002 to this point in the year.

The net income for Emergency Medical Services through October 2002 was an estimated $465,000, compared with a $23,000 loss through October 2001. Over the same time period, the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center showed a $42,000 profit compared with a $22,000 loss last year. Of course, these revenues include the increased levy on taxpayers approved by voters in November 2001 and an increase in ambulance fees put in place during the summer of 2001.

"We've reached this point thanks to the efforts of the employees and the sacrifices they've made," Jackson said. "The district is in a lot better financial position than it was last year at this time."

At the Urgent Care Center, a 2001 expansion of service to offer weekend access to health care, net income through October was about $32,000 compared with about $12,000 last year.

Board chairman Dick Babillis said last year's urgent care profits included a $12,000 donation used as "seed money to get us started." This year, the Urgent Care Center operated without that boost.

The 2003 budget, approved unanimously by the board, puts total revenue for the district at $2.5 million. Total expenses are predicted to run at about $2 million. With three percent tucked away for reserves as required under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights and debt service covered, about $250,000 remains undesignated.

Should no more surprises - like thousands of dollars in unpaid bills stuffed in desk drawers and forgotten - cripple the district's figures, the undesignated funds will be used for some extras waiting in the wings. The extras, or contingencies, approved by the board, include expanding medical services, salary adjustments and merit raises, employee training and scholarships, repaying employee compensation time, additional advertising, grant writing and research, uniforms, strategic planning and cash reserves.

About $37,000 in outstanding debt remains to be paid. Of course, when compared with over $135,000 in debt facing the district last year, it's a much better picture, Jackson said.

"At the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center we've caught up on all our malpractice insurance payments," she said. "Some of those had been outstanding more than a year."

Taken together, the financials leave the district manager and members of the budget committee cautiously optimistic.

"We've turned a corner and we're heading in a new direction," Jackson said in an interview Wednesday.


State plans to put 150 more lynx in San Juans

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

More lynx are coming to the San Juan Mountains.

Release of as many as 150 lynx over the next three years, up to 180 lynx over the next five years, was approved by the Colorado Wildlife Commission Nov. 15.

The goal of the new release is to establish a reproducing lynx population in the target area. No evidence exists to show that any of the 96 lynx released in the San Juan Mountains north of Pagosa Springs starting in 1999 have reproduced, said Todd Malmsbury, information specialist at the Division of Wildlife office in Denver.

"There has been no documented reproduction," Malmsbury said. "That may be because of not enough density, or because they need more time to acclimatize, or because of still unknown reasons.

"We want to give them every chance to survive," he said. "If they don't reproduce after these releases, we can say Colorado is not a suitable habitat. We'll be gathering facts, not basing decisions on assumptions. We'll either have a reproducing lynx population or we can say they won't make it here, keeping Colorado off of the lynx federal endangered species list."

The Wildlife Commission decision was based on a recommendation from Division staff.

Planting should begin shortly after 2003 begins, Malmsbury said. Contracts to purchase the lynx are being negotiated with trappers in British Columbia and Quebec. Up to 150 lynx will be released over the next three years. If more are needed, another 30 lynx may be released during the two years that follow.

Currently, the Division is spending from $200,000 to $250,000 on the lynx program, according to Malmsbury. The new program will cost more, taking money from either the Colorado lottery proceeds, the nongame income tax checkoff, or from private donors, he said.

"It seems there is general support this time," Malmsbury said. "The opposition is not to the lynx, they are just afraid of land use implications."

Dick Ray, a Pagosa guide and outfitter who attended the Friday commission hearing, continues to voice the same arguments he expressed before the first lynx release.

The Colorado Farm Bureau, Cattleman's Association, Wool Growers and others continue to oppose lynx introduction, according to Ray.

Ray's opposition is based on the belief that insufficient science was used to justify and plan the first release. No Environmental Impact Statement was completed, but one should have been, according to Ray.

"I have not uncovered any evidence that a viable lynx population ever lived here," Ray said.

Lynx, especially males, may have wandered into the area, according to Ray, without reproducing. They may have bred with bobcats producing lynx cats as offspring. Early reports of lynx may have been lynx cats instead, Ray said, creating a false impression that a viable population of lynx inhabited the area. Fur buyers continue to pay for lynx cat furs.

Of the 96 lynx originally released, one-third are known to still be around today, according to Malmsbury. The number grows to more than half if one accepts the premise that lynx not known to be dead may be alive.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife may be the leading world expert on transplanting lynx, Malmsbury said.

"A zoologist from another state told me 'This has never been done before. Colorado is writing the textbook on lynx. Given the difficulty of re-introductions in general and especially of lynx with their excitable nature, everything is going well.'"

Division experts have searched for lynx kittens during the usual spring bearing season, Malmsbury said. So far, they have uncovered no evidence that a female lynx has delivered a litter.

The new lynx program will contain provisions making it easier to avoid the five years in jail and $50,000 fine penalty associated with shooting a lynx. The new program will allow the taking of up to two lynx under certain circumstances before prosecution is pursued.

Professional trappers have been concerned because there is no way to prevent a lynx from entering a trap set for other fur bearing animals. The new law may allow the trapping of two lynx before action is brought by the state.


Performance bonds cut from county subdivision code

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Will the county be caught with its pants down?

That's the question asked by Bill Downey, chairman of the board of county commissioners, after the other two commissioners voted to relax county laws concerning subdivision improvements. Downey voted no to the change.

When explaining how the new regulations work, Downey said, "It's kind of like, formerly we had suspenders and a belt. We've removed the suspenders. Now we only have the belt."

Gene Crabtree and Alden Ecker, the other commissioners, think county residents remain protected by the new regulations, even without the suspenders. So does the county planning staff and Upper San Juan Regional Planning Commission.

At issue are rules the county uses to make certain subdivision improvements are completed. Improvements requirements vary from subdivision to subdivision, depending upon the intricacies of the development. The extent and number of improvements are specified by the planning commission early in the subdivision process.

Examples of improvements are streets, utilities, sidewalks, road signs and other subdivision infrastructure components normally expected by citizens who will ultimately live in the development.

A question connected with requiring improvements is how to guarantee, when citizens move into homes in the new developments, that improvements are adequately completed.

Archuleta County history is rife with tales of uncompleted improvements connected with developments platted and sold during the early days of the current growth cycle. The best known example, unfinished roads in several of the Pagosa Lakes subdivisions, resulted in a lawsuit and ultimate settlement of $7 million or $8 million.

Since then, until Tuesday, the county has used a two-pronged approach to guarantee completion of subdivision improvements. The two-pronged approach is what Downey refers to as suspenders and a belt. Certain developers have referred to the approach as double jeopardy. The suspenders are a performance bond, the belt a requirement that all improvements be properly completed before lot sales can be recorded.

The amount of the performance bond was established based on bids obtained by developers estimating the cost of completing the required improvements. At the end of the project, developers were required to gain approval from each entity involved with an improvement. When the subdivision, including improvements, was complete, the developer took proof of completion first to county planning staff, then the planning commission, and ultimately to the county commissioners. If the commissioners agreed the developer had performed properly, they released the performance bond, approved the final plat for recording with the county clerk, and initiated a new warranty bond to cover the improvements for a period of two years or so. The county wanted a guarantee the improvements didn't suddenly unravel.

Tuesday's change eliminates the performance bond requirement. Developers are still required to complete the subdivision, including all agreed-upon improvements. Commissioner agreement requires that all the work is properly completed. The commissioners then release the improvements agreement and allow the developer to record the final plat. A warranty bond is installed on the improvements for a period of two or so years after the work is complete.

Certain developers who ultimately received less than they requested proposed the change. For at least two years, these developers claimed the performance bond/improvement completion requirement constituted double jeopardy and was unnecessary.

They argued that withholding county approval allowing them to file a final plat prevented them from selling lots. If lots were sold sooner, they said, revenue from the lot sales could be used to complete the subdivision - a more desirable cash flow situation from a developer's point of view.

In actual practice, developers solicited and received promises to purchase lots. Since title could not be conferred until the final plat was recorded, buyers were reluctant to part with money. Even if money was collected, it had to be retained in escrow until the final plat was recorded.

Commissioners have opposed the sale of lots before completion of improvements. They fear a situation wherein the purchaser of a new home and lot might be living on the new property, but not have streets, utilities or other improvements in place. The problem could be especially bad if there were multiple homeowners and the developer died, declared bankruptcy, or for other reasons was unable to complete the development and improvements.

Presumably, the performance bond would provide the money to complete the project. In any case, the requirement that improvements be completed before the sale of lots protects the lot purchaser.

The involved developers hired local attorney Jerry Venn to draft and promote new language for Section 7, Subdivision Final Plat of the Land Use Regulations. Specifically, the developers attempted to retain the performance bond and eliminate the requirement that improvements be completed before lots can be sold.

Finally, the county agreed to the opposite. Two commissioners agreed to eliminate the performance bond requirement, but retained the requirement that improvements be finished before lots can be sold.

As a result of the county action, representatives from both sides are a little bit happy and a little bit sad.

"Basically, it was a compromise," said Marcus Baker of the county planning staff. "Nobody here wanted to eliminate the requirement that improvements be completed before lots can be sold. There are questions connected with the performance bond requirement. If the county had to collect the bond, that would put the county in the subdivision business. No one questions the county's right to perform on public property such as road easements, but some people question if the county has a right to go onto private property."

"It's not what the developers wanted," said Venn, "but it is not unwelcome. It saves them some money because they won't have to pay for bonding. They are disappointed, but I know of no plans to pursue this at this time."

"I'm concerned that some developer will leave in midstream and years could pass before anything is done," said Downey. "A case in point is the old San Juan Sawmill, which has been an eyesore. It sat there for years and years before it was eventually cleaned up."

Proponents of the newly adopted approach argue that, if a developer leaves in midstream, he will first sell the partially completed subdivision to another developer, or a financing agency such as a bank will take over and complete the project.

Downey argues that, especially if depression conditions cause the developer to quit before completing a project, it may be impossible to complete a sale. Because no lots have been sold, individual citizens are protected, but citizens at large are not protected from what might be a horrendous eyesore.

Will the county be caught with its pants down? Time will tell.


PLPOA hikes recreation use

fees 20 percent

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Fees for users of Ralph Eaton Recreation Center will be increased 20 percent across the board.

The board of directors of Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association made that decision Nov. 14 while also approving the drafting of working plans for renovation work at the center and directing the scheduling of a town meeting to explain what is planned.

But neither action was accomplished without extensive debate.

The renovation proposed, shown to the board in a slide presentation, is estimated at about $175,000. It will include closing off the current entryway and creating another to the east; closing off the area where the current desk area is and moving cardiovascular training facilities to that spot, thereby opening up more space for weight room operations; eliminating the nursery area; expanding the women's dressing room area and adding two family dressing room locations off the men's dressing room facility.

The work would be financed out of reserve funds set aside specifically for recreation center improvement. Association voters turned down a proposed bonding program for nearly $2 million in facilities improvement during the July annual meeting.

The traffic layout proposed, officials said, would spread out the heavy use areas and allow a more normal progression than allowed with the current layout. One of the keys will be a more centralized desk and entry control area.

The question arose whether the project is a renovation or a capital improvement. If classified as the latter, said director Fred Ebeling, it would be outside the limits established by a board-imposed cap last year pegging expenditure limits of $100,000 or 3 percent of assessed valuation, whichever is lower.

Finally, it was agreed the proposed work does not fall under the limiting criteria because it is not basically new construction and the board has been routinely setting aside funds each year for renovation and updating purposes.

Director David Bohl, the association's treasurer, agreed the work proposed is not a capital improvement, but suggested plans to go to the public with explanations should be held up until working drawings are prepared. "What we're seeing here are just sketches," he said. "When we show it to the users, it should be in something like final form so they can see what is planned and where."

Tom Cruse, board president, said the dollar amount is not a question. "The committee has met and made a recommendation. But there has been no aggressive campaign to put diagrams and information before the users. It is just good practice to let them know what we're doing. I don't question the rationale, but I think a town meeting would be a proper thing at this time."

Dahrl Henley, who chairs the Rules and Regulations Committee but was speaking as a property owner and private citizen, said, "This appears to be the best deal we can get, but we should think of it as more than a Band-Aid. I believe the people need to be heard, given a chance to express their ideas before final commitment to the project."

Director Bill Nobles' motion to move ahead with development of working drawings and a public meeting for comment, seconded by Ebeling, was adopted unanimously.

The fee increase proposal was said to be due to a change in time share policy and a move to negative status in the operations fund for the center. Debate centered more on the ongoing controversy over sponsored guest use than the actual price increase.

What it finally boiled down to is a sponsored guest punch card (12 punches) which will be issued only when the sponsoring property owner accompanies the intended user the first time.

That action eliminated an earlier contention that every sponsored guest visit should require the accompaniment of the sponsoring owner. It was noted many members are grandparents and their grandchildren visit at times when the swimming pool is a great attraction.

"Would you want to come to the center twice a day with those kids because they couldn't get in without you being there?" was a question all recoiled from.

The fee hike was approved on a 6-1 vote, Ebeling dissenting, after Cruse said adjustments have been made in terms of charges to timeshare units. "This seems to be a fair and equitable arrangement here."

Ebeling then moved to eliminate the 20-punch card (12 already exists) but the motion died for lack of a second.

At meeting's end, Cruse opened the floor to additional comment on actions taken and Mojie Adler vehemently opposed letting anyone other than family guests use the recreation center. "If they want to use it, let 'em move here, buy property and pay dues like the rest of us. They brag that they wouldn't live here because we have so many restrictions," she said, "but they flock to use our facilities if we allow it."

Nobles' motion to differentiate between sponsored family guests and sponsored outside residential guests failed 6-1 despite seeming agreement among members that sponsored outside guests should pay more.

Ebeling's motion to hike the outside resident user fee by 50 percent failed for lack of a second. But, a motion to refer the issue back to the committee and recreation center staff for sound figures and a proposal for presentation at the town meeting was approved unanimously.


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Clear skies, sunny days light up county's forecast

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Pagosa Country skies will be mostly clear for the coming week with warm days and cool nights, according to Gary Chancy, a forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction.

The only significant weather event affecting Colorado, a cold front dropping down from Canada, is expected to remain east of the Continental Divide.

"We call it a 'continental system,'" Chancy said. "Because of its origin in Canada, it doesn't have a chance to pick up moisture from the ocean. There may be a little precipitation, but it will be on the upslopes east of the Divide."

The forecast for Pagosa Springs calls for mostly sunny days with occasional cloudiness. High temperatures should reach into the low 50s today through Saturday, then drop into the 40s as the Canadian cold front moves south. Low temperatures should drop from the low 20s into the teens as the week progresses.

The seasonal forecast calls for normal temperatures and slightly above average precipitation, according to Chancy. Average temperatures for the coming months are: December - high 39.6, low 5; January - high 37.9, low 1.4; February - high 42.6, low 7; March - 49.2, low 15.9.

Average precipitation and snowfall for the coming months are: December - precipitation 1.79 inches, snow 22.2 inches; January - precipitation 1.85 inches, snow 27.1 inches; February - precipitation 1.29 inches, snow 18.8 inches; March - precipitation 1.61 inches, snow 16.8 inches.

Last week's high temperatures ranged between 39 and 50 degrees with an average high reading of 45 degrees.

Last week's low temperatures ranged between 6 and 19 degrees with an average low reading of 14 degrees. The 6-degree reading is the lowest this season.

Local weather readings are made at the official National Weather Service gauging station located at Stevens Field.


 Sports Page
Parks & Rec

Fort Collins firm offered town site development pact

By Joe Lister Jr.

SUN Columnist

The town's parks and recreation department has offered the master plan design contract for the new sports complex on South 5th Street to a Fort Collins company.

EDAW Design Co. was selected due to its extensive work with other public entities and because of strong recommendations from other parks and recreation departments around the state. Picking a finalist was very difficult because some very qualified companies applied.

EDAW will work with a local company, Civil Design Team, as the surveyor and civil engineer team. We are excited about the opportunity for the public to be involved in the planning process.

We ask citizens to keep posted on special meetings concerning the development of this 15-acre site. We will hold public meetings with the hope of hearing from all the user groups f softball, soccer, kayakers, special events programs and others.

Look for the meeting in mid-December.

Youth basketball

The first night of basketball in the new community center was great. We were excited for the kids to break in the new facility and start our basketball program off on the right foot.

Over 350 children and adults showed up for the first night of competition.

Parents and grandparents had a hard time holding back the smiles as their little ones put on a show. For some of the young athletes, it was the first time they'd ever participated in an organized sport, so the cameras were flashing and everyone had a good time.

Basketball sign-up

Youth basketball sign-up for boys and girls 9-10 and 11-13 is going on now. Forms and registration can be picked up at Town Hall, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m-5 p.m. The final deadline is noon Friday.

Late entries will be put on a waiting list. A coaches' meeting is tentatively set for Dec. 3 with practice times being established in December and a full schedule of games set to start after Christmas break in early January.

The Elks Hoop Shoot is scheduled 8:30 a.m. Dec. 14 in the Pagosa Springs Community Center gym. Youngsters 8-13 are welcome to come shoot, with hopes of advancing to regional competition in Durango. Winners in 8-9, 10-11 and 12-13 age brackets will advance to regionals.

Job offered

We have offered the parks and recreation maintenance job to a local man, Mel Montoya, otherwise known as Susie's husband. We expect him to be a welcome addition to our crew. Many fine applications came across my desk and we think Mel will be a great addition. He is scheduled to start Dec. 2.


Height, depth, speed, experience complement Pirates

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

A real treat is in store this season for fans of Pagosa boys' basketball.

With just a few breaks, the Pagosa boys could be making a trip to the Air Force Academy to play with the eight best basketball teams in the Colorado 3A classification.

This year's team is tall, deep, fast and experienced. Coach Jim Shaffer's biggest problem to start the season may be figuring out how to work three tall boys into the lineup at the same time.

This is Shaffer's second year at the Pirate helm. Last year Shaffer fielded a young team which tied Centauri for second place during the regular Intermountain League season.

Returning are five athletes who started all or part of the time last year. Included among the five are 6-foot-5 senior Jason Schutz, 6-foot-6 junior Clayton Spencer, 6-foot-6 sophomore Caleb Forrest, 6-foot-1 junior Ryan Goodenberger, and 5-foot-9 senior Brandon Charles.

Schutz, a first-team IML performer last season, averaged 12 points a game. Last year's point guard, Charles averaged 11 points a game and was chosen by IML coaches to the IML second team. Pagosa's five returning starters averaged 40 points a game last year.

Joining the top five are graduates of a junior varsity team which won nine of 10 league games last year. The only loss was a split with the Centauri JVs, a team that also finished with a 9-1 record.

Pagosa's boys played between 40 and 45 club games between June and July earlier this year, giving the team a chance to work together and get better acquainted with Shaffer's system. Shaffer was hired about the time school started last year. Consequently, the team had no summer work and little time to pick up the new coach's system before the season started.

"We'll be real competitive," Shaffer said. "We have five kids returning who started different games last year. Of the 15 kids we used, 13 are returning."

Last year, Shaffer had four tall players, but only played two at a time.

"This year I'm looking to start all three of the tall boys," Shaffer said. "They are all athletic, have good hands, and run the floor well. We'll play an up-tempo game. It should be fun for the boys and fun for the fans."

Defensively, Shaffer may have his boys playing more zone, but man-to-man will still be the primary defensive scheme.

"We have some good kids who are fast coming up from the JVs," Shaffer said. "If we have to, we can put a small, fast team on the floor."

Moving up from the JVs are Ty Faber, a 5-foot-9 junior who started last year when Charles was hurt; Brandon Samples, a 6-foot-1 junior; Coy Ross, a 6-foot-1 junior; Otis Rand, a 6-foot-1 sophomore; David Kern, a 5-foot-9 junior; Jeremy Caler, a 5-foot-9 junior; and Casey Belarde, a 5-foot-8 junior. Rand's brother Charles was the IML player of the year during 1999-2000.

Pagosa Springs' IML opponents are Bayfield, Centauri, Ignacio and Monte Vista. Ignacio represented the league as the top team last year by capturing the post season IML tournament. Monte Vista was the regular season champion and entered the state playoffs as the second place team. Centauri also went to the state playoffs as the third team from the IML. Pagosa Springs and Bayfield stayed home.

Pagosa reached the final eight in the state both seasons prior to last year.

Because Ignacio's entire lineup returns this year, the Bobcats are probably the team to beat for the IML title, according to Shaffer. Centauri will have a good squad, Monte Vista is a perennial contender and Bayfield can beat anyone on any given night.

Pagosa's preseason schedule this year varies from the program local fans are accustomed to viewing. Gone is the Cortez tournament. On tap are some Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday games.

"Our first seven games are with 3A opponents," Shaffer said. "By the time we finish those seven games, we ought to have an idea of how we stack up."

The Pirate's first competition is a scrimmage at home Nov. 30 against 5A Durango, at 11:30 a.m. Actual play begins the next weekend with Friday and Saturday games in the Buena Vista Tournament at Buena Vista. Playing in that tournament are Pagosa Springs, Buena Vista, Battle Mountain and Salida. Pagosa opens with Salida Dec. 6 at 5:30.

Dec. 13 and 14, Pagosa Springs hosts the annual Wolf Creek Classic Tournament. Competitors in that event in addition to Pagosa Springs are Clear Creek, Gunnison and Jefferson high schools,

Pagosa plays in yet one more tournament before the Christmas break. Dec. 21, they play in the Pueblo Holiday Tournament at Pueblo. Among the competitors in that tournament are Florence, Rye and St. Mary's high schools.

The Pirates open 2003 Jan. 11 by playing Durango in the Smelter City at 11:30 a.m.

The following Monday they host Aztec at 7 p.m., then Bloomfield on Friday of the same week at 7 p.m.,

League plays starts the next night, Jan. 18, when Pagosa hosts Centauri.

Jan. 21, a Tuesday, Pagosa travels to Ignacio. Friday, Jan. 24, they play at Bayfield. Monte Vista is the next opponent Feb. 1 in Pagosa Springs. Feb. 6, Pagosa hosts Ignacio, on Feb. 7 they host Bayfield. The regular season ends with games Feb. 14 at Centauri and Feb. 22 at Monte Vista.

The pigtail IML game will be played Feb. 25, the IML Tournament Feb. 28 and March 1, and the state tournament at Colorado Springs March 13, 14 and 15.


Lynch picks 14 to vie for girls varsity basketball spots

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

After a week of practices, the picture is beginning to take focus and, with a Dec. 3 10 a.m. scrimmage at home against Durango as their first test, the Lady Pirates basketball team has some work to do.

Coach Bob Lynch named his varsity contenders this week, but wouldn't rule out that some of the other players out for practice might work themselves into competition for varsity status.

Initially, however, he has selected 14 competitors for varsity and backup spots, a group which is extremely young as varsity squads go.

In fact, he has only two seniors, Katie Bliss and Shannon Walkup, and two juniors, Melissa Diller and Leslie Martinez, working with the varsity.

There is, however, a six-member corps of sophomores, three of whom had varsity experience last year. They are Lori Walkup, Bri Scott and Mollie Honan. Joining them are Caitlyn Jewell who missed action last year because of an ankle injury, and up from last year's junior varsity are Laura Tomford and Melissa Maberry.

Four freshmen round out the squad. They are Emily Buikema, China Rose Rivas, Liza Kelly and Caitlin Forrest.

Lynch told his squad defense will be a key to their plans.

"I have no doubt we'll be able to score," he said, "but our goal will be to stop the other team from scoring."

Therefore, he said, "a prevent man defense will be our base operation. We'll have to learn to support, to pick up and switch off screens set against us. We'll know how to run a zone, but it won't be a staple of our operation."

"You will work really hard," he told the girls Monday, "but you will also know you can and are achieving when we're ready for competition."

He said the team will have to learn to move the ball quickly on offense, run set plays to free key shooters, and not be afraid to take an open shot.

"We will be a team in every sense of the word," he said.

No actual measurements have been taken yet, but only Jewel and Buikema appear to top the six-foot mark. The balance of the squad would appear to average in the 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-9 range.

Both Walkups, Bliss and Scott are experienced varsity starters but aside from them, only Honan has varsity experience. Diller, Martinez, Tomford and Maberry all had junior varsity service last year.

Lynch acknowledges it will be a rebuilding job for his first season at the helm, "but I think we can surprise some people. We have a good core of veterans and if some of the youngsters develop as I think they will, we will be competitive."


Patricia Pantzar

Patricia "Tricia" G. Pantzar of Pagosa Springs passed away quietly in her sleep Nov. 12, 2002.

Born in Mansfield, Ohio, Feb. 11, 1949, the daughter of George and Bernice Gustin, Tricia married W.P. "Hank" Pantzar in Tyler, Texas, Dec. 14, 1983. In 1993, she and Hank moved their family from Tyler to Pagosa Springs.

Tricia was a mother, wife, homemaker and friend. She was a member of the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship and a board member of Southwest Colorado Mental Health. She was interested in plants, gemstones and was an advocate for and involved with Women's and Children's Resource Centers.

Survivors are her husband; two sons, Kail and Colin, both of Pagosa Springs; aunt and uncle Eva and Wayne Rutledge of Calgary, Alberta, and aunt and uncle Winnie and Bruce Klay of Tampa, Fla.

A memorial service was held Nov. 19, 2002 in the Vista Clubhouse, officiated by Ilene Haykus of the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship.

Memorial contributions may be sent to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, 700 Broadway, Suite 808, Denver, CO 80203-3442.


 Inside The Sun

Vista properties targeted for cleanup

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Complaints by Vista Subdivision residents about properties not cared for and uncleaned apparently were well-founded.

Walt Lukasik, general manager of Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association, along with members of the board of directors and enforcement staff, toured the community Nov. 14.

Lukasik told the full board that night they had found at least 24 properties in the area that were substandard and have problems which need to be addressed. He said notices were to be mailed to owners of record of the properties this week and after that "we will begin the official process of getting them in compliance."

Director Tom Cruse, board president, warned "we need to explore how much we can release to the public with reference to properties not in compliance."

"There should be no problem," answered director David Bohl. "Delinquent tax lists are published regularly, naming property owners. Our move would be no greater damage to individual property owners."

With reference to a separate Vista complaint about lack of lighting being an impetus to a high crime rate in the community, Lukasik said Archuleta County Sheriff's Capt. Bob Grandchamp has confirmed that studies show improved lighting is a deterrent to crime.

He said he had met with county commissioners Gene Crabtree and Alden Ecker who suggested the neighbors in the community ask for a meeting with La Plata Electric on improved lighting. He said the commissioners suggested that in lieu of forming an improvement district to seek lighting, there might be a way to make an exception and have both PLPOA and the county join in adding lighting.

The question, he said, is who would pay the bill?

The county will not. PLPOA could not because it would show a preferential treatment for one member community over another. "Apparently," he said, "whoever orders the service will get the bill."

When Cruse asked what amount was being talked about he was told LaPlata Electric indicated a monthy cost of $10-12 per pole.

Director Fred Ebeling's opinion was that a public improvement district "might be the proper vehicle to allow for installation, operation and payment of monthly bills. That district would have to be formed by petitioning the county and the costs could be prorated on tax bills."

No action was taken, but Cruse said the board will follow the problem.

Annette Martinez, speaking for Vista homeowners, said the amount, probably about $3,000 per year, "is not asking for a lot. Wouldn't forming an improvement district cost a lot more?"

"Our intent is provide material assistance if a district is formed," said Cruse. "But services and dues of the organization are applied uniformly. We must try to avoid any exceptional expenses. The feeling is that we need recommendations from both you and the general manager on specific actions possible.

"The county has no responsibility so we have to look for another way," he said. "We'll administratively help you pursue the options, but we can't show preference to your needs over those in any other member community."


Final draft of revised PLPOA rules presented

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

"Let all property owners have the same rights."

That was the admonition of Dahrl Henley to the board of directors of Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association Nov. 14 after delivering to them the Rules and Regulations Committee's final draft of revised regulations for use by the Department of Covenant Control.

She said the panel spent months "tweaking and clarifying" existing declarations, but had been surprised at how few major changes were needed to develop an enforceable document with an extensive section on property maintenance.

She said the panel believes it has given the board "everything it needs to deal with issues coming before the DOC enforcers."

Henley told the board committee members had asked her to speak for them as property owners and not as the code developers.

"They asked me to tell you they have given you an effort significant to every property owner, a document that will allow convenant enforcement to do its job more efficiently by using the tools we have designed."

They urged the board to "be constant in the application of the code and ensure the rules are applied in the same manner for every subdivision."

Administrative staff will review the documents and when prepared file a resolution of adoption for the board to vote on.

Prior to the Henley appearance, property owner Mojie Adler had chided the board for delaying enforcement codes. "Are you going to take a hardball or a softball approach to code enforcement?" she asked.

Told the enforcement will be "adequate to cover situations where there's dividing lines," she replied, "Just follow the decs do it that way or no way."

Told the original restrictions would require the board to take photos of and get complete descriptions of every property in all the subdivisions making up the association and then inspect and update those files every year, Adler admitted "that would be carrying it to the nth degree."


County will pay off road capital improvement debts

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Archuleta County will use $303,607 to pay off certain road and bridge capital improvement debts financed under a lease-purchase agreement with Wells Fargo Bank.

The action was taken in response to a suggestion from the county auditor that the indebtedness be liquidated because of currently low interest rates.

Certain road and bridge equipment purchases made approximately three or four years ago were made through lease-purchase contracts. Since then, interest rates have fallen significantly.

Money to retire the indebtedness will be removed from the road and bridge capital improvement fund.

The county accomplished the following additional tasks while meeting in regular session Tuesday.

- Marsha Preuit and Joan Slavinski were appointed to the county Tourism Fund Administration Panel. The other member of that panel is Jeff Greer. The panel administers funds derived from the lodger's tax levied against motel room users. The money is used by the Pagosa Sprigs Chamber of Commerce to promote tourism.

- The commissioners approved the expenditure of additional funds to complete the county's matching funds obligation connected with a grant for a "Sleuth" computer enhancement designed to enable the county sheriff to better communicate with town police and other law enforcement agencies. The county match portion of the $144,399 project is $38,700. The town and county courts are also contributing to the match. The original funds are coming from an Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Grant.

- An action item is planned for next Tuesday's commissioner meeting to consider the appraisal and proposed sale of county property on San Juan Street formerly occupied by the Colorado Department of Transportation.


Hearing set on proposed building permit changes

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

A hearing to gather public input concerning proposed changes to county building permit requirements has been scheduled Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in the county commissioners' meeting room.

The hearing date was set by the commissioners in response to a request from Julie Rodriguez, who supervises the county building department.

Rodriguez's request was made on behalf of the building department, the Building Board of Review and the Pagosa Fire Protection District.

At the top of the list of subjects to be considered at the public hearing is a request for adoption of the 2000 International Building Code, the International Residential Code and the International Fire Code, all with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2003, if adopted.

In addition, building staff is recommending an increase in building permit fees, increased staffing, more space and salary increases for building department personnel.

"Internationally, we as code officials recognize the need for a modern, up-to-date building code addressing the design and installation of building systems through requirements emphasizing performance," Rodriguez said. "The International Building Code, the International Residential Code and the International Fire Code are all designed to meet these needs through model code regulations that safeguard public health and safety in all communities, large and small."

The new codes establish minimum regulations for building systems making it possible to use new building materials and designs, according to Rodriguez, and are compatible with the entire family of International Codes including state plumbing and electrical codes.

Adoption of the new codes in the unincorporated areas of Archuleta County will benefit the local construction industry, Rodriguez said, because they are, on the whole, less restrictive, because they open the use of new materials and methods, and because they are easier to follow.

Commercial codes are separated from residential codes in a format that is easier to follow when compared to the former codes, according to Rodriguez.

"Adjusting the code will be an ongoing process," Rodriguez said. "It is our hope that with the assistance of the building community this can be accomplished to the benefit of all involved."

Rodriguez recommended that the model fee structure contained in the Uniform Building Code Table 1-A be adopted. A regional modifier of 0.92 should be adopted to help local fees conform to local building costs.

Plan check and inspection fees are collected from those using the services, Rodriguez said. Regulatory fees, licenses and permits are becoming an increasingly important revenue source for local governments.

The current Archuleta County fee schedule was adopted in 1994. At the time the schedule was adopted, the building department had one inspector who also examined plans, one part-time office clerk and one vehicle. Since then the county has added a department director, two inspectors/examiners and a part-time receptionist who doubles as a permit technician.

Over the last eight years, the department has averaged 236 single-family residence permits and 457 total permits each year. The average yearly departmental income is estimated at $164,000. Average estimated expenses are $98,000, leaving a difference of approximately $66,000. The surplus has gone into the county general fund.

"It is the opinion of the building staff that the building permit fee should be increased to better support an already overloaded department," Rodriguez said. "Over the past few years, the building department has experienced a tremendous increase in the number of permit applications. Overall, the staff is finding it very challenging to handle the current workload and to follow up on potential violations. The lack of enforcement raises a fairness issue, especially for those individuals who abide by the county's rules and regulations."

Rodriguez pointed out that, due to lack of staff and funding, certain inspections are not being done. The list of inspections not done includes masonry fireplaces, slabs, nailing, tie-ins for stonework, installation of UL rated appliances, Mechanical Code compliance and an Energy Code inspection.

Current staff is paid well below average, Rodriguez said. Wages should be brought up to comparable salaries for these positions.

"I believe that this step will place us in a much more competitive position when attempting to keep the current positions filled or when hiring additional staff for these positions," Rodriguez said.

Finally, Rodriguez pointed out that existing office space is inadequate for the needs of the staff and for meeting with the public. Building department space is shared with the planning department. Talking with inspections and permit applicants interrupts other workers in the office.

"We need increased office space, adequate workstations, and a meeting/conference room," Rodriguez said.

She suggested that space be leased outside of the courthouse, if necessary.



Dear Editor:

The eighth-grade class did it again with a delicious breakfast and tribute to our veterans on the morning of Nov. 11. And what a great turnout of special people.

All I could say was thank you many times over. This is such a creative way of teaching history to our young people and Mr. Dan Janowksy is to be commended for coming up with the idea.

The program following at the high school during which the winners of the Reuben Marquez patriotism essay contest were recognized, was especially appropriate. Lisa Hartley and the band and choir went all out and member veterans of each branch of the U.S. armed services stood as their musical tribute was played.

Kudos to Jace at Liberty Theatre for recognizing the veterans on his movie house marquee.

Cindy Gustafson


Dear Editor:

As a combat veteran of the Korean war, commonly referred to as the "Forgotten War," I never felt closure until November 11 at the veterans' breakfast put on by the eighth grade faculty and students. Their caring, respect and interest in the veterans touched me deeply. I finally can put away some ghosts from 1950 and 1951 thanks to the effect of that eighth-grade breakfast. On behalf of myself, and the many young men from my company who did not survive to experience the appreciation of our combat in a forgotten war, I salute the eighth grade group.

Also, I want to applaud the wonderful food, service, decorations, and the inspirational flag made of student thoughts on veterans. Because of the actions and attitude of these wonderful eighth-grade students, I feel that our country will be in good hands when it is their turn to take the reins.

My sincerest gratitude,

Jim Haliday

Health care

Dear Editor:

In light of the letters to the editor written by Norm Vance, I echo the concern he shared about the health care crisis going on as we citizens sit back in apathetic silence thinking that if we ever need emergency help or a doctor they will always be there. Right?

Don't be so sure.

I have been a resident of Pagosa Springs for 21 years. I have been a health care provider for almost 34 years, encompassing hospital, clinic and emergency care. In the 21 years of being a resident here, and as a health care professional, I have seen a lot of changes in the health care provided to the community in Pagosa Springs.

The word "hemorrhaging" is blunt and descriptive and very accurate describing what is happening, caused by the problems being created by present management and seemingly ignored by the hospital district board. The minority of board members who recognize the problem and want to solve the problem are outnumbered by the majority who seem to be sitting back and letting someone else run the show.

Why are grants not being written to obtain monies available to help us with our crisis? Part of the responsibility of the present administration, when hired, was that they knew how to, and would be writing grants for this purpose. Writing one grant at a time is not enough effort.

Yes, our past administration was not fiscally responsible. But the present course of creating such a negative atmosphere to work in, and consequently losing personnel at an alarming rate of just under 50 percent in the last six months, therefore cutting "expenses" isn't the answer, either.

The hospital district successfully cut $200,000 from the present budget last May (which was the recommended amount by the district's auditor) to break even this year without touching any salaries. And the hospital district board, hiding their heads in the sand, hoping it will all go away, is not the answer either.

I say, wake up citizens, the alarm is sounding. Wake up hospital district board, your house is crumbling around you. What are you going to do about It?

The hospital district board meets the third Tuesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. in the conference room of the Emergency Services building. It is a meeting open to the public. You elected these board members. Hold each one of them accountable for how our health care is being handled. Ask the hard questions.

I strongly urge all citizens to put their apathy aside and make sure that your rural health care is secure. Find your voice, speak up and take action - before it is too late.

Joyce Little

Jet service

Dear Editor:

Since Jim Carey states in his Nov. 14 letter to The SUN that there is little chance Pagosa will ever see any type of scheduled jet service.

Question: Then why is $16 million being spent on my airport? Seems downright madness to me. Who does it benefit? That's right, only a very few.

Let's see now, maybe this "local uninformed dimwit" can navigate through a little low visibility approach speed math. Just so I'll know when its time to drop my tailhook, after I "suck up" some airborne FOD (foreign object damage), like a few Canada geese, and faced with a flame-out on my newer generation but "generally" much more powerful, and "generally" quieter turbine engines.

Question: Do not larger and more powerful turbine engines disintegrate with the same ferocity as smaller less powerful engines after ingesting a "goose" dinner? Why, I'll even wager that they will fall out of the wild blue at the same drop rate. The crash sites may even look basically similar.

Let's get back to the math: Since we all know that no one will just donate to any county $16 million without some dollar contribution from those receiving this large benefaction, I assume the Archuleta County taxpayer will eventually have to produce some more of their hard-earned dollars in the form of a matching grant. Even if it's a conservative 5 percent match, my dimwitted calculation says that comes to $800,000 the taxpayers will have to produce to continue this asinine airport flimflam.

I wonder how much we've already contributed. To my knowledge, the taxpayer has never been told. Other than the $200,000-plus one of the Amigos seized to pave a taxiway, along with the recent $150,000 to grab FliteCrafton Aviation.

Had this grandiose airport expansion ever been placed on the ballot for approval by those folks who own Stevens Field, which is what should have happened in the first place, I have no doubt the $800,000 expenditure would have been soundly shot down, along with the other thievery. And those involved with the folly in local government would then be quickly - ousted.

Ralph Goulds indicated in his Nov. 14 letter that the taxpayers want to be involved in any large expenditure of their money. Voicing how terribly concerned he was about the $150,000 of public money two of our commissioners captured to acquire FliteCrafton Aviation while sidestepping any public involvement. Yet it was not many months ago, when Goulds himself was profoundly crowing about commissioner Ecker's many stellar leadership traits while Ecker unduly confiscated a far greater amount than $150,000, also without any taxpayer participation, to pave a taxiway to a few hangars.

Sounds like, smells like, and is - blatant hypocrisy Mr. Goulds. Ya just might consider adjusting the angle of attack on yer next high visibility pass.

Jim Sawicki

Cloud seeding

Dear Editor

I appreciate this opportunity to respond to Mr. Albert Schnell's very gentlemanly letter, "Making a Choice," in the Oct. 3 issue of The SUN that was, in turn, a response to my letter, "Cloud Seeding," in the Sept. 19 issue.

I believe our disagreement is a matter mainly of emphasis and not of basic fact. We agree that the American Meteorological Society is the best source, at least in this country, for knowledge about cloud seeding. The quotes below are taken from "Planned and Inadvertent Weather Modification, A Policy Statement of the American Meteorological Society as adopted by the Council on 5 January 1992," which is available at <>.

Mr. Schnell states that, " seeding for snowfall can be expected to provide from 5 percent to 20 percent above natural precipitation, and seeding for rainfall in the warm season can yield 100 percent above natural precipitation."

The AMS Policy statement says, in part, "There is growing evidence that glycogenic seeding can, under certain weather conditions, successfully modify some orographic stratus clouds, and some convective clouds. Recent research results provide dramatic though limited evidence of success in modifying shallow cold orographic clouds and single-cell convective clouds."

While stating that seeding can increase precipitation, I do not believe this statement supports the contention that seeding " can be expected " to increase it.

Precipitation augmentation in warm weather is more problematic. "Heavy seeding of some warm-based convective clouds can increase precipitation. However, convincing evidence that such seeding can increase rainfall over economically significant areas is not yet available." "Seeding to enhance warm-rain has produced statistically acceptable evidence of accelerated precipitation formation within clouds, but evidence of rainfall change at the ground has not been attained."

I believe the AMS statement also is in conflict with an earlier letter from Mr. Schnell, "Cloud Seeding," in the Aug. 1 edition of The SUN. He stated that, "It is scientifically well proven that cloud seeding does not decrease precipitation downwind from a target area; instead it increases cloud water to ground by up to 5 percent."

The AMS says, "There are indications that precipitation changes, either increases or decreases, can also occur at some distance beyond intended target areas."

The disagreement I have with Mr. Schnell is not that seeding never changes precipitation patterns. It is that there is no certainty that any given seeding operation will increase the amount of precipitation, either snow or rain. I believe the operative words should be "may" and "can."

As I read the AMS statement, and I encourage any who are interested in this topic to do so, it supports well-designed and analyzed efforts at planned weather modification. For this reason, particularly as this is to be a demonstration project, I hope that Western Weather Consultants has both detailed the methodology they will use in their field operation and outlined how the success of the program will be determined.

Ted Stampfer


Dear Editor:

This letter is written to the residents of Chromo who use the trash Dumpster on C.R. 382 (and the residents of Dulce, Lumberton, Ignacio and Blanco Basin as well as the contractors and the hunters, etc.): this Dumpster is a privilege, not a right! We may pay for the use through taxes; however, that does not guarantee the Dumpster will always be there. We have seen it disappear before.

I am not sure who is responsible for the paint cans, sheets of dry wall, rolls of carpet, mattresses, elk carcasses, firewood thrown in the Dumpster, since it is intended for household trash only.

But, come on: If the receptacle is full when you come to throw away your kitchen garbage, please don't leave it on top or on the ground, piled six or seven bags deep.

Please show some respect for those of us who live nearby and those of us who travel C.R. 382 and view the disgrace of your garbage strewn about by birds and raccoons. Please show respect for the natural beauty of the neighborhood. At least show respect for the Dumpster delivery person. Who do you think picks up your garbage? The trash fairy?

The Dumpster is usually replaced on Tuesdays and Thursday or Friday. If you have a lot to toss, why not take a run by first to make sure it is empty? Waste Management isn't always on schedule, but I don't believe their delay entitles you to leave such a mess. If it is full, please turn around, go home and wait another day.

It is a privilege to have the use of a Dumpster so close to home. Let's don't lose it.


Michelle Tate

P.S. I just returned from a trip to Chromo and was surprised to see someone raking up the remains of yet another overflowing trash heap. Thanks, Dick Schutz, for caring. I hope we are not in the minority.

Unbiased voice

Dear Editor:

I write this letter on behalf of the PACK Steering Committee, a nonpartisan group of 12 people, Republicans, Democrats and independents, founded last spring to provide an unbiased voice in local political and governmental matters.

Unlike the League of Women Voters, an admirable organization to which I and several other members of PACK belong, we are prepared to take a stand on candidates as well as issues.

In the recent election we supported three candidates: Mamie Lynch for county commissioner, Tom Richards for sheriff, and Traves Garrett for treasurer. We are of course delighted that all three prevailed in the election, but we also want to express our thanks to the defeated candidates, who have manifested their good citizenship simply by their willingness to run for office. And we welcome the return of the other three elected officials who ran unopposed - County Clerk June Madrid, Assessor Karen Prior and Coroner Carl Macht.

The election over, we are now preparing to focus our attention on some of the most important issues our leaders will be facing. We would welcome any comments, questions or suggestions.

Dick Van Fossen

Major problems?

Dear Editor:

I've submitted several letters to this column recently about the Upper San Juan Hospital District. I expected fallout from this. Being a whistleblower isn't fun.

I've heard secondhand comments about "Norm causing problems," and being a "troublemaker." On the other hand, I've had many conversations with people who know the situation and are very supportive.

To the people who think I'm causing problems - there is a great difference between causing problems and talking about existing problems.

Some problems of the USJHD have been well documented in The SUN while others have been kept secret or out of the public's knowledge. This has been accomplished by inappropriate use of "executive session" at board meetings and by fear instilled in employees.

Recently the board demanded employees sign a "confidentiality statement," forbidding talk about "board business," with the threat of immediate termination. To their credit the employees, en masse, refused to sign.

It's obvious, when things become this controversial, embarrassing and secret, there are major problems. For an organization elected by the public and supported by tax dollars, this is an abomination of proper procedure and is unseemly behavior.

Its been said, "Norm doesn't know what he's talking about." David Mitchell once referred to me as one of "Pagosa's characters." I proudly played that role related to my tourism magazine business. This is the way most people know me.

In a pre-Pagosa career I was a medical professional, from an Army ambulance and clinic medic to attending as a student and working for the University of Texas Medical School at Dallas. I worked directly under two chiefs of cardiology and with astronaut, Dr. Drew Gaffney. I did nuclear medicine-cardiology research in the CCU at Parkland Hospital. I proudly watched NASA Television as Drew, on the space shuttle, performed procedures that I spent a decade helping develop. I've had intimate knowledge of the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center for two decades. Norm does know what he's talking about.

I decided to start this "informing the public" campaign after two events. One was a birthday party for a lady at the clinic. We ate the cake, but there was no party. The hour was spent discussing how miserable the workers were, trying to survive under current management and board leadership.

The second event was when Dr. Mark Wienpahl, N.P. Susan Kuhns and Terry Sellers spoke at a board meeting about improving some very important aspects of community health care. The board chairman rudely interrupted, repeatedly talked over, and tried his best to censor their discussion. This is a controlling personality, seemingly out of control. This board is ignoring their medical professional's request and knowledge.

My bottom line, our community health care is operated by a board beyond its competency level. It refuses to listen to competent people and is making grievous mistakes. Clinic employees and the citizens of Archuleta County deserve better than this.

I have been asked to state: Not all USJHD board members support current policy, leadership and activity.

Norm Vance


Community News
Senior News

Health, love, location, causes for Thanksgiving

By Janet Copeland

SUN Columnist

Best wishes to all our readers for a very happy Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for: The wonderful people (seniors, church friends, merchants, and all those who so freely volunteer of their time and talents) and beautiful scenery here in Pagosa Springs are high on the list, as well as our health, love of family and love of friends.

The seniors will celebrate Thanksgiving Wednesday, Nov. 27, with a traditional Thanksgiving meal prepared by our outstanding kitchen crew.

We appreciate Muriel Cronkhite's presentation Wednesday on the "Forgotten Nutrient." Muriel is the nutritionist for our district and does a wonderful job of keeping us informed about which foods are best for our health.

Our prayers are with Kurt Diedring for a quick recovery from his recent surgery. We miss you Kurt - come back soon.

Congratulations to John Larson, our Senior of the Week. We missed John while he was away and are happy to have him back with us again.

A big welcome to the following guests and returning members who joined us this week: Joye Moon (of Oshkosh, Wis.), Biz Greene, Jean Smith, Virginia Bartlett, Kathy and Roger Betts, Doris Green, Joann Haliday, Kathy Kubes, Carol Fulenwider, John Cramer, Gerald and Lil Smith, Robert Fisher, Laura Huddleston, Jay Sinnes, Marcia Ferguson, Vickie and Charles Knoop, Lois and Jerry Brinton, and B.J. Padilla.

Please note: The Senior Center will be closed Nov. 28 and 29.

Dec. 5 there will be a shopping trip to Farmington. Transportation will be $15. This is a great opportunity to take care of some Christmas shopping and enjoy a day with friends. Sign up at the center soon.

We are told there will be a free meal provided by the First Baptist Church at 4 p.m. Sunday. You will need to have a ticket, so call the Center or the church to find out how to get them.

Marilyn McPeek kicked off a new program, "Moments of the Mind" last Friday, which we hope everyone will enjoy.

Once a week or so, we are asking our members to volunteer to give a little talk (less than five minutes) about special memories from their past. We hope everyone will think of something to relate - it helps us get to know one another better.

Four Corners Travelers is planning a trip to San Antonio April 17-27. Trip cost is $735, which includes a continental breakfast each morning. The group will visit the Panhandle Plains Museum (the largest history museum in Texas); Palo Duro Canyon; and spend six days in San Antonio visiting a wildflower farm, a butterfly ranch, and the National Museum of the Pacific War, the Sauerkraut Show, the Alamo, and a day at Padre Island. This will be the week of the Fiesta in San Antonio, so there will be lots more to see. Contact Laura at the Center for more information.

It is the time of year when many folks are unable to keep their leaves picked up and snow shoveled from their walks. The Home Chore program is designed to assist those folks who are not able to complete these tasks or may have difficulty affording hired help. Call Musetta or Laura at 264-2167 for more information.

The Senior Center is in need of a small coffee table for our lounge. If anyone has a nice one they would like to donate, call Musetta or Laura.

There is a new class this month designed to help creatively solve problems, make your own crossword puzzles, and figure out your chances of winning at the casino. Larry Blue has taught people how to exercise their brains in fun and creative ways for many years. The classes are at 11 a.m. every Thursday this month. Come and reawaken your brain.

Free movies will be offered in the Senior Lounge at 12:45 p.m. on the second Friday of each month. The movies are free and the popcorn is 25 cents - a real bargain. Come and enjoy the movies and offer suggestions to Laura for movies you might enjoy seeing. If there is a lot of interest, we may even run them twice a month.

Friday - 12:45 p.m. senior board meeting at Town Hall; celebrate November birthdays of members, noon at the Senior Center.

Monday - 10 a.m. chair exercises; 1 p.m., bridge for fun.

Tuesday - 9:30 a.m. yoga; 11 a.m. problem solving class; 12:45 p.m. art classes in the art media room at the Center. There is a $2 per class suggested donation for use of the facility but those who cannot afford this should talk to Musetta, Archuleta Senior Citizens Inc., will help out; 1 p.m. Sky Ute Casino trip (free transportation by the casino) leaves the center at 1 p.m. and leaves the casino to return at 5 p.m. Sign up in advance for this popular excursion which usually fills up rapidly.

Wednesday - 10:30 a.m. computer class; Thanksgiving celebration at noon.

Thursday - closed for Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, Nov. 29 - Archuleta County Heritage Day, Center closed.

Veterans Corner

You can be linked to WWII Memorial

By Andy Fautheree

The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. will be the first national memorial dedicated to all who served during World War II and acknowledging the commitment and achievement of the entire nation.


The memorial will honor the 16 million who served in the armed forces of the U.S. during World War II, the more than 400,000 who died, and the millions who supported the war effort from home.

Symbolic of the defining event of the 20th Century, the memorial will be a monument to the spirit, sacrifice, and commitment of the American people to the common defense of the nation and to the broader causes of peace and freedom from tyranny throughout the world. It will inspire future generations of Americans, deepening their appreciation of what the World War II generation accomplished in securing freedom and democracy. Above all, the memorial will stand as an important symbol of American national unity, a timeless reminder of the moral strength and awesome power that can flow when a free people are at once united and bonded together in a common and just cause.


The first step in establishing the memorial was the selection of an appropriate site. Congress provided legislative authority for siting the memorial in the prime area of the national capital, known as Area I, which includes the National Mall. The National Park Service, the Commission of Fine Arts, and the National Capital Planning Commission approved selection of the Rainbow Pool site at the east end of the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. President Clinton dedicated the memorial site during a formal ceremony on Veterans Day 1995.


The memorial will be funded primarily by private contributions. The fund-raising campaign was led by National Chairman Sen. Bob Dole and National Co-Chairman Frederick W. Smith.

Sen. Dole, a World War II veteran seriously wounded on the battlefield and twice decorated with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, was the Republican nominee for president in 1996 and the longest-serving Republican leader in the U.S. Senate.

Frederick W. Smith is chairman, president and chief executive officer of FedEx Corporation, a $17 billion global transportation and logistics holding company. He is a graduate of Yale and a former U.S. Marine Corps officer, and serves on the boards of various transport, industry and civic organizations.

The memorial has received $188 million in cash and pledges. This total includes $16 million provided by the federal government.


Construction began in late August 2001. The American Battle Monuments Commission expects the memorial to be completed in the spring of 2004, and dedicated May 29, 2004, Memorial Day Weekend.


The memory of America's World War II generation will be preserved within the physical memorial and through the World War II Registry of Remembrances, an individual listing of Americans who contributed to the war effort. Any U.S. citizen who helped win the war, whether a veteran or someone on the home front, is eligible for the Registry. Names in the Registry will be forever linked to the memorial's bronze and granite representations of their sacrifice and achievement.

A donation is not required to enter a name in the Registry. However, if you would like to receive a certificate that includes your name and the name(s) of the individual(s) you honored, a minimum $20 donation is required. You may make a donation at the end of the registration process.

The Registry itself is currently under development. When completed it will be available for viewing on this web site. It also will be available for viewing electronically on the grounds of the World War II Memorial when the memorial is dedicated in May 2004.

You can access the World War II Memorial Web site and registration form at

For information on these and other veterans' benefits call or stop by the Veterans Service Office located on the lower floor of the county courthouse. The office number is 264-2304, the fax number is 264-5949 and e-mail is The office is open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., 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.

Chamber News

Six will run for three open board seats

By Sally Hameister

The staff and board of directors offer heartfelt congratulations to fellow director and Cookie Lady Extraordinaire, Sally Theesfeld, and her new husband, Walter Hovatter, on their recent marriage. These two are exceptional people, and we wish them all the best as they set out on their lifetime journey together. Congrats, kids.

Board candidates

Even more congratulations are in order for the sensational six candidates who have agreed to run for the three open seats on the Chamber board vacated by Bonnie Masters, Mark DeVoti and Liz Marchand in January. My undying respect always goes out to those who agree to run because clearly only three of the six will be elected.

I think it takes great courage to take a 50-50 chance on just about anything, so I am grateful to the following folks for their exemplary intestinal fortitude: Scott Asay with Asay Chiropractic and Wellness; Angie Gayhart, Chamber diplomat and associate member; Tony Gilbert with Elk Meadows River Resort; Toby Karlquist with K.K. Paddywhacks Embroidery; Shelley Low with U.S. Mortgage; and Linda Schmitz with The Shirt Outlet.

You will learn much more about these candidates in the forthcoming Chamber Communiqué insert with pictures and profiles to acquaint you with their particular qualifications and reasons for running.

Russ Hill Bazaar

It's Monday morning as I write this, and I will be heading over to Lewis Street sometime today to deliver the ornaments I reuse each year on our big wreath over the Visitor Center door.

The Wreath Elves will take these ornaments and create a stunning, decorative wreath with the fresh greens, pine cones, ribbons and said ornaments that will subsequently bring great joy and delight to all who enter the Visitor Center throughout the holiday season.

I heartily encourage you to run on over to the Community United Methodist Church to order your very own wreath or centerpiece to enhance your holiday or, better yet, order some for relatives and friends who live elsewhere. The MEs (Methodist Elves) ship many, many wreaths hither and yon to surprise loved ones with a unique creation from Pagosa Springs. There are those folks who have established a time-honored tradition of sending these every year as their Christmas gift, and who could question the sagacity of that tradition?

Table arrangements begin at $15 and wreaths with a 12-inch to 15-inch outside diameter, red bows and pine cones are $19 and medium wreaths, 18-inch to 24-inch, are $27. Custom wreath orders are always available to you with the ribbons and decorations of your choice with varying prices.

Last year over 900 wreaths and 250 table arrangements were created and sold by this exceptional group of generous people who could clearly write the book about the true meaning of Christmas.

Call 264-4538 for more information about the Russ Hill Memorial Bazaar or even better, head on over to see these folks in action and order something beautiful. You will find them there Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-noon.

Newsletter inserts

You still have time to bring us your holiday insert for our upcoming edition of The Chamber Communiqué.

The December newsletter is historically one of the most popular because our members usually have a lot to communicate about their holiday business activities. Visits from Santa, special sales, unique gift items and anything and everything pertaining to the season can be shared with around 780 members.

We at the Chamber use this vehicle to pass along our season's greetings, to introduce our six candidates for the upcoming January board of directors election, offer the opportunity to vote for Citizen and Volunteer of the Year and to offer our registration form for the ever-popular Parade of Lights (to be held on Dec. 13 this year).

We invite you to join us in passing along the good word about whatever it is you would like to share with all of our fellow Chamber member businesses. All you need to do is furnish us with 750 copies of your insert, preferably on colorful paper, and a check for $40, and we'll do the rest. There couldn't be an easier, more economical way of getting your information out there, folks. Call Doug at 264-2360 for more information.

Holiday Tour of Homes

Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. marks the second anniversary of the Holiday Tour of Homes in Pagosa with a new wrinkle or two sure to enhance your evening. In addition to the glorious decorations, you can expect refreshments, frozen casseroles to purchase for less stress during the holidays, greenery to purchase and carolers to add to the festivities at one of the homes. One of the most delightful parts of this tour is that you can "borrow" all kinds of ideas to implement while decorating your own home.

The generous folks who have donated their homes for touring this year include Mike and Susan Neder on Piedra Road, Bob and Lisa Scott on Four Mile Road, John and Shirley Nelson on North Pagosa Boulevard and Joe and Carol Davis on Horseshoe Circle in Martinez Mountain Estates. A limited number of tickets are available for pre-sale purchase only at the Chamber of Commerce and Wolftracks Bookstore and Coffee Company and directions will accompany the tickets. You must have a ticket to enter these homes, and tickets will not be sold after 3 p.m. on the day of the event.

All proceeds go to the Seeds of Learning to provide better and better care and services for our little ones. Grant dollars have diminished along with the general economy this past year, so your support of this event is more important than ever. Pick up your tickets today.

"A Christmas Carol"

We're all cheerfully anticipating the upcoming Music Boosters' holiday production of the 1843 Charles Dickens' classic, "A Christmas Carol" boasting a cast of over 40 with high school students, small children and adults both new and familiar. Michael DeWinter, Lisa Hartley and Melinda Baum are sharing the directorial duties for this jewel. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing the costumes and sets representing such a splendid period and season in England. The sets for "Meet Me in St. Louis" were so amazing that I can't even imagine how marvelous these will be.

The opportunities to enjoy this holiday classic are Dec. 5, 7, 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. and on Dec. 8, for a special matinee at 1:30, all in the high school auditorium. Tickets will go on sale today, Nov. 21, at The Plaid Pony and Moonlight Books, and you will want to act quickly to get the seat(s) of your choice because it is reserved seating only. Adults tickets are $12, seniors with a senior card are $10 and children 12 and under will pay $8.

Let's get out there and support the performing arts in Pagosa and, specifically, our wonderful Music Boosters. I would dearly love to see a special holiday production every year, and we can encourage that by attending "A Christmas Carol."

Christmas concert

What would the holiday season in Pagosa be without the annual Community Choir Christmas Concert? This year marks the 12th anniversary of this exquisite blend of over 60 voices raised in celebration of the most magical of all seasons. This year, "Sing, Choirs of Angels" will be presented Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. and again Dec. 8 at 4 p.m. at the Community Bible Church.

Beautiful selections will be performed by local artists who love to sing and by local instrumentalists who add the perfect touch to each song they accompany. You will be treated to some of your favorite holiday tunes as well as some Renaissance numbers, some American spirituals and traditional carols under the direction of Barbara Witkowski and Pam Spitler. Sue Anderson will perform piano and keyboard honors for the performance.

Since I personally attend this glorious concert each and every year, I can promise you that you will feel the spirit of the season more than ever before after hearing this exceptional concert. Don't miss it.

Chain saw needed

Speaking of Scrooge, our pal Lee Sterling is looking for a chain saw, muscle, community spirit and a big heart to help out with a project. He has 30 trimmed logs ranging from 6 inches to 12 inches that need to be cut to fit a stove. The payoff on this endeavor is that whoever comes forth to perform this feat will be rewarded with half of the wood, and the other half will be delivered to those designated by Social Services. This is a wonderful opportunity to begin the season of giving and sharing by doing just that. If you are interested in helping out, please give Doug a call at the Chamber, 264-2360, and Lee will contact you with the particulars.


Always makes us very jolly to welcome two new members to the fold and acknowledge seven renewals. We consider it way better than finding a little something extra in our Christmas stockings.

We're delighted to welcome Maryla and Charlie Robertson as associate members. Maryla is already a member with Genesis Mortgage, so we are doubly honored with this membership.

Welcome to Tom Cruse (a.k.a. "Hotshot") who brings us PFLAG: Parents, Family, Friends of Lesbians and Gays. This organization offers support for a diverse and tolerant community through educational services and social activities. If you would like to learn more about PFLAG, please give Tom a call at 731-2602.

Our renewals this week include former Chamber director Lauri Heraty and husband Mike with The Source for Pagosa Real Estate; Josie Sifft with Spirit Rest Retreat; Rick and Judy Quon with Happy Camper R.V. Park; Lauren Huddleston, Ph.D., with The Consortium International (formerly Space Masters) and Lyn DeLange with both The Pagosa Springs Welcoming Service and CSE Advertising Specialties.

Our associate member renewals this week are Tom and Susan Thorpe, and we are delighted to count all of you among our magnificent membership.

Library News

Model trains return; new books listed

By Lenore Bright

Our model trains are back for a very short stay. Please come in and enjoy them through Saturday. We'll have them back later for a longer whistle stop.

Thanks to Richard Wholf and the Pagosa Springs Model Railroaders for sharing. The group meets regularly. Call Mr. Wholf at 731-2012 if you'd like to join.

Starting Monday, Carolyn McCullough will grace us with her creations in our display case.

New books

"The Memory Bible," by Dr. Gary Small, is a must read for everyone who wants to take action against memory loss. We all forget things sometimes - our keys, a phone number, the reason we went to the market - and it only increases as we age. This book gives innovative memory exercises to help us eliminate much of this forgetfulness.

He also discusses how food, medicines, exercises, alcohol, stress and many other lifestyle choices directly affect the aging of our brains. With this information, we can begin to make more informed decisions to prevent memory loss and keep our brains young.

He includes a "brain diet of memory protective foods, and a guide to the most effective drugs and treatments available."

Small is a renowned neuroscientist who directs the UCLA Memory Clinic and the UCLA Center on Aging. He lectures frequently throughout the world.

"Creative Paper Techniques for Scrapbooks," from Memory Makers has more than 75 fresh paper craft ideas. While this is primarily for people wanting to make scrapbooks, it is full of ideas for people interested in graphic work. There are many ways to make posters and other eye-catching designs.

"Stokes Butterfly Book: the Complete Guide to Butterfly Gardening, Identification and Behavior," by Donald and Lillian Stokes. How's that for a title? This book is the definitive answer to all your questions on butterflies. It is illustrated with more than 140 stunning color photographs and tells you all you need to know how to attract the butterflies, identify them, and understand their behavior. It also shows how to identify the pupa and caterpillar. Get ready now to plant the right flowers next spring.


Thanks for financial help from Don and Ethel Rasnic in memory of Ray Macht, Lloyd "Jr." Clark, O.L. Sanders, Mary Edith Lynn Ripley and Julie Thomas Bissel; Gil and Lenore Bright in memory of David Mitchell. Thanks for materials from Rod Cooper, Brock Gorman, Cristie Holden, Shirley Brinkman, Jim Wilson and Denise Pastin. Thanks to Sandy Caves for a subscription to Mothering, and to Ron Green for a subscription to Field and Stream.



Jeffery and Audrey Hendricks are proud to announce the birth of their daughter, Natalie Lynn. She arrived Oct. 3, 2002, weighing 6 pounds, 10 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

Grandparents are Marguerite Jackson, Gabriel Hendricks and Dixie Daugaard of Pagosa Springs and Mark McBride of Fort Worth, Texas; great grandparents are Inez Seavy and Joyce Huffmeyer of Pagosa Springs, Margaret and Nick Hendricks of Henderson, Nev., and Mr. and Mrs. Dick McBride of Ft Worth. The great-great grandmother is Marie Owens of Ft. Worth.


Business News

Lynn and Todd Hagerty own and operate Pagosa Power Sports and have been dedicated to establishing a service-oriented approach since they purchased the business Nov. 1.

Pagosa Power Sports features snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles, with Yamaha and Polaris products. The facility also provides parts, accessories and service with a full-time mechanic on staff.

Pagosa Power Sports is located in the Greenbrier Plaza, 301 N. Pagosa Boulevard, Unit B-18 at the back of the building. Business hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10-1 Saturday.

Call Pagosa Power Sports at 731-4320.


Julie Rodriguez received a "My Boss is a Patriot" certificate of appreciation on behalf of the Department of Defense. Rodriguez heads the county building permit department. The certificate was presented by Trista Nauman, an Army Reserve member who works in the building permit department. Nauman nominated Rodriguez for the award because Rodriguez "is continually supportive of my service in the Army Reserve. She offers constant, help, support and encouragement in my military career."

The family and friends of Willie and Phoebe Voorhis will celebrate their birthdays in Laughlin, Nev., Saturday, Nov. 30. Willie will be 85 Dec. 3; Phoebe's birthday is Oct. 25. For more information, call Russell at 731-1238 or Steve at 264-4233. Cards can be sent to Willie and Phoebe Voorhis, 3190 Hwy. 45, No.1707, Bullhead City, AZ 86442.



Born's Lake: Take a look at Dutch Henry's sylvan retreat

By John M. Motter

PREVIEW Columnist

What could be finer? Two splendid carriage horses and a spring wagon trotting along the sparkling San Juan River. Rugged mountain crags form a backdrop framing mile after mile of stately pines lining the dusty route. Across the river a sipping deer lifts dark eyes, fascinated with the passing celebration.

A two-rut driveway leading to an unpainted cabin. A small girl, blue eyes staring, calling to a still smaller brother. Come! Hurry! Look at the horses and wagon. Look at the beautiful lady and her husband. Where are they going?

Onward the horses trot, around the bend, out of sight, splashing through creeks, on and on. What a wonderful afternoon for a ride to Born's Lake. First a boat ride around the still, sylvan waters, perhaps a little casting for native trout. Maybe even some catching. No catching? Not important. Later the gracious Henry Born and his lovely wife, Ida, serve dinner, trout and all of the trimmings. Perhaps Doc Taylor and his missus will be there. Maybe Fil and Annie Byrne or Judge Price or the Hatchers or even Ed Biggs.

Born's Lake was the place to be for early Pagosans. And Henry Born, "Dutch" Henry Born, what of the rumors about Dutch Henry? Even if they were true, what did it matter? Henry and Ida were perfect hosts, cultured in manner and solicitous of their guests' welfare. And, nothing could be finer than an afternoon's entertainment at Born's Lake.

Born's Lake was a labor of love for Dutch Henry, the fulfillment of a dream. Born's Lake is where he brought his bride from Michigan. He'd first seen her as a young man of 20 when, while visiting his family, her proud mother pushed her down the street in the pram. By 1890, she'd promised to marry him and, true to her promise, she waited. Finally, in 1900, they married. She'd visited Pagosa before, in 1895.

"He told mother in 1895, if Pagosa ever got a railroad, it would be a good place to raise fish," said Mabel Bennett. Mabel is Dutch Henry's daughter, born at Born's Lake in 1912. A midwife would have helped with the delivery, but the midwife was three hours late. Instead, Henry was the midwife.

When they first arrived on the West Fork of the San Juan, the family camped at the foot of the hill while Henry built a home from available materials using an ax, shovel and a team of horses. A cabin was built of logs.

After the family cabin was built, and until 1916, the family remained at the lake through the winter. Later, winters were spent in town.

"Once a month daddy would snowshoe to town for supplies," Mabel said. "A neighbor, Walter Himes, kept vegetables for us in his cellar." That neighbor was several miles away.

The first winter was an exception. That first winter was spent at Bachelor, a mining camp outside of Creede, where Henry worked in the mines. Henry patented the Happy Thought Mine in Creede, along with partner Tom Vincent.

"For years mother got a tax notice on the mine from Mineral County, about $1.70 or so," Mabel said. "Then the notices stopped coming. Vincent ended up owning the mine."

Henry had also found a rich mine at Summitville, a mine that made money for Judge Wiley during the 1920s, according to Mabel.

The Born family continued to operate Born's Lake as a resort until about 1960.

Mabel was born in 1912. Her famous father died Jan. 10, 1921, of pneumonia. Her mother passed away in August of 1949. Obviously, her acquaintance with her father was limited to her younger years. Nevertheless, she has memories.

When asked who was Hans Wiek, the man with whom her father purchased two Pagosa Springs lots, Mabel replied, "I don't know. When I was a little kid we visited Hans Wiek in the park. He and daddy talked German. He got me a little stool to sit on."

Of her father Mabel says, "He was an educated man. He studied hard and never read fiction. He taught himself how to raise fish."

She doesn't believe he attended a Lutheran seminary, but he was confirmed in a Lutheran church.

Her father never had a fish hatchery, but raised fry, according to Mabel. At first he just raised cutthroat, the only trout native to Colorado. The flood of 1911 did not wash out the Born's Lake dam, but overflowing water did carry away many of the fish. After that, Dutch Henry bought fish from Hubler and Creswell at Palisade Lakes, located on the divide between the Piedra Middle Fork and Williams Creek. The young fish were hauled in tanks in a horse-drawn wagon.

"When I was 7 or 8, we rented the Speelman place in town for the winter," Mabel recalled. "Daddy took the spring wagon and went up to Palisade Lake to get fish. On the way back, he'd stay up all night with a tire pump, pumping air into the fish tanks."

It was 1915 when her father talked the state into stocking eastern brook trout.

"Daddy shipped trout to Denver, including the Brown Palace," Mabel said. "He also supplied trout to Dickerson's Meat Market in Pagosa Springs."

The people who purchased Born's Lake from the family, while doing some remodeling, unearthed a gun from beneath the old kitchen floor. The gun had been hidden so long, the stock was rotted away. Dutch Henry had gotten rid of his guns long ago after saying he'd seen more than enough bloodshed.

Indeed, Dutch Henry had stories, stories he never got around to sharing, even when invited by Charles Siringo, the western writer.

"Sure daddy stole horses from Indians," said Mabel, "but I don't believe he ever had a gang. Daddy was a loner. And if you think about the times, that was pretty common in those days. Nobody would arrest you for stealing from Indians."

As if to make her point, Mabel recalled stories from the time old friend Bill Tilghman visited Born's Lake. Tilghman showed his movie in downtown Pagosa Springs, after pointing out that if they were still in Oklahoma Territory he would have to arrest the owner of the theater being used.

Tilghman credited Dutch Henry with saving his life. According to the story, Dutch Henry had stolen a very fast race horse from the Indians, then persuaded Tilghman to buy the horse. Later, when in a tight spot, the speed of the horse saved Tilghman's life.

Many are the stories about Dutch Henry Born. If there is a line separating fact from fiction in Dutch Henry's life, that line is hard to distinguish.

A fact certain is that Dutch Henry was a good husband, father and provider for his family. His legacy remains at Born's Lake, the home and business he carved by hand from the wilderness. Perhaps a yet-greater legacy are his descendants, the four children he shared with Ida: Helen, James, Mabel, and George and their children.

Mabel remains in Pagosa Springs, 92 years old, sharp as a tack, and with encyclopedic knowledge of Pagosa Country history. She lives in a home probably built by James Spickard, an early Pagosa attorney. Like her father, Mabel is a legend in her own time.


A Christmas Carol

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

"Man of the worldly mind. Do you believe in me or not?" a ghostly figure dragging a huge load of chains moans toward a tyrant in his dressing gown.

"I do! I must!" Scrooge, the grump from Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol," replies from his hiding place behind a chair. "But why do spirits walk the earth and why do they come to me?"

His dead partner's answer fills him with fear, and Scrooge begins the journey from miserable moneymaker to benevolent benefactor. His guides are three specters - ghosts of past, present and Christmases yet to come.

In Michael DeMaio's musical adaptation of "A Christmas Carol," set to be staged in Pagosa Springs Dec. 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11, these otherworldly creatures will be played by Darcy Downing, John Nash-Putnam and Bill Esterbrook. Each is unique, displaying traits true to their time.

The Ghost of Christmas Past is ethereal, feminine, yet firm, sneaking up on Scrooge with a packet of long-buried memories. She guides him through these memories with a touch of sadness, forcing him to reflect on the choices of life, the "could have beens" one more time.

"In some ways she reconciles his past," Downing said. "In some ways she brings about a revelation and redemption for his past - for his mother and his precious Fan."

This is Downing's first shot at playing a ghost - a real challenge to interpret because of its inhuman nature, she said. "We all saw her very differently, but I think we've come up with something that will work."

Downing has lived in Pagosa Springs for six years. She studied theater and voice at Adams State College and has been performing since grade school. However, it's been several years since she was last on stage.

"This is kind of my coming out," she said. The mother of two, she really didn't plan on making a comeback in "A Christmas Carol." In fact, auditioning was a bit of a last-minute decision.

"I had dreams about it for three nights before the auditions," she said. Finally, with the encouragement of her husband, she hastily put together a song to sing. The rest, is history.

"It's been so much fun to work with everybody," she said, giving credit to John Bernard (Scrooge) and director Michael DeWinter for helping her feel comfortable in the role.

Christmas Present is a ghost of an entirely different character. He "thunders on stage" according to the script, speaking in tones both jovial and menacing, showing Scrooge scenes both touching in spirit and terrible in their honesty.

"The Ghost of Christmas Present lives very much in the here and now, evidenced by how much he repeats himself when introducing himself to Scrooge," DeWinter said. The ghost is patterned a little after Roman god Bacchus, living just for the moment and with a bit of excess. His robes are velvet trimmed in faux fir, belted with gold. He walks the earth just one day every year beginning at Midnight on Christmas Eve.

And as quickly as he arrives, he is gone.

In his place is the black Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. He is the darkest of the lot, completely shrouded in black robes and silent, pointing out Scrooge's future with one bony hand. For Pagosa's show, he will be played by high school principal Bill Esterbrook.

"I was involved in a little drama in high school," he said with a laugh. "I often thought I missed my chance at Hollywood but I decided to become a teacher instead."

Today, he's convinced wearing a shroud and staying silent is a part absolutely made to fit. "I'll be all covered up and no will know it's me," he said. "I've always enjoyed the Music Boosters programs and rarely miss any of their presentations. This is a chance to do something different." He did admit he'd thought about practicing a menacing one-fingered point in the mirror a few times.

It's a show, they all agreed, that shouldn't be missed. Not necessarily because of the 40 or so Pagosans on stage, ranging in age from eight to retired, but because of the message.

"There's truth in this show for every person," Downing said. "For the poor, it's a message of hope; for the hard of heart, there is a message of hope that the heart can soften."

It's Christmas, the way it was meant to be.

"A Christmas Carol"


Pagosa Springs High School auditorium


December 5, 7, 10, 11, 7:30 p.m.

December 8, 1:30 p.m.

Ticket Information

Reserved seat tickets are available at Moonlight Books (264-5666) and The Plaid Pony (731-5262). Prices are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors with a Senior Card, and $8 for children 12 and under.


Who's left behind?

Over the years a debate has taken place here, on the topic of what educational approach is best for our local youngsters. The dialogue included questions of educational objectives, style, content, of where and with whom ideas and changes should originate. The process makes incremental changes in the local school district. The community of interest finds its way to a consensus: This is the way we want our children educated; these are the results we expect.

The process is sometimes rough, seeking a balance between extremes, all for the best of our children.

It's a shame it can't work this way any longer.

Big government is stripping local communities and governments of real control over public education.

The newest educational mandate has a positive label: "Leave No Child Behind." Sounds great. Who would want to leave a child behind?

Our local school board got a glimpse of the reality of the project last week, and the positive veneer seems thin. With the threat of the loss of state equalization funds, our school district could be suffocated by the mandate. The federal demands are data-based, rudimentary, and the penalties for not supplying satisfactory results are extreme.

No doubt, our school district can meet the demands, but at what cost?

It seems the overwhelming majority of a district's resources must soon be brought to bear on the task of insuring that students meet federal standards prior to graduation.

This standardized approach to education cannot help but do some damage.

There is only so much money available. If most is dedicated to the task of leaving no student behind, as defined by the feds, and most courses of instruction are designed to accomplish the task, what happens to subjects that serve other, important needs? What happens to art, to music, to enhanced vocational education?

In the quest to educate each and every student to achieve the federal mean, what happens to courses that benefit students who easily meet basic standards and desperately need more? Can a district offer advanced placement courses? Can a district afford courses that serve the creative or specially-skilled students - in reality few in number?

When does Leave No Child Behind become Let No Child Excel?

If schools fail to meet federal mandates, districts, school administrators and staffs could be punished, curriculums redesigned with standards imposed from outside. At the extreme, schools could be taken over and reorganized. But the program does nothing about those elements that have the greatest effect on educational success. What about parents? What about the parent who sees no need to send a child to school every day, who fails to productively support the child in the educational environment, who makes excuses, who casts blame rather than guaranteeing effort? Where is the mandate to solve this greatest of educational problems?

Politicians gravitate to slogans, and to the creation of programs that satisfy immediate political needs. As a result, they continue to assault rather than support the community-based systems that are our strength.

On the subject of education mandates, and many others, we must find a way to deal with federal and state government pressure. We must find a way to tell legislators to quit making political hay at our and our children's expense. Give us the money, distribute it equally&emdash; it's ours. Make accountability reasonable and pertinent to our community and our needs as we define them. Allow us to debate questions as they apply to us and give us the latitude to make our own decisions.

Karl Isberg


Dear Folks
Christmas Bazaar's much more than wreaths

(This Dear Folks was first printed Dec. 2, 1993)

It's time for the annual Russ Hill Memorial Christmas Bazaar.

The folks at Community United Methodist Church have developed the annual wreath-making activity into a mini-industry.

There won't be a chili supper involved with tomorrow's final sales day, but there will be an opportunity to purchase some very attractive Christmas wreaths, center pieces and delicious baked goods.

I'm aware Sam McNatt had operated one of the wreath-wrapping gadgets at the church for many years, but until yesterday, I never realized how long he'd manned that station.

Wednesday I stopped by the church to get a photo of Santa's helpers, AARP circa, and came across some interesting information.

While waiting for the workers to return from lunch, I browsed through a lesson guide in one of the children's Sunday school class rooms. Lo and behold, there was mention of Sam McNatt.

The lesson was a combination story about the first Christmas and the Christmas wreath endeavors. It told of how "... when the three wise men entered the stable, they saw Mary and Joseph standing beside a manger. As their eyes adjusted to the dim light, the wise men noticed Sam McNatt at the back of the stable working on a Christmas wreath "

Sam really hasn't been making Christmas wreaths that long, but it probably seems that way after the continuous hours he and many others volunteer each season. Their efforts benefit the Education Center, community needs and a variety of youth programs within and without Community United Methodist Church.

I'm uncertain about how many centerpieces and wall hangings were sold this year, but the workers estimated that 750 evergreen wreaths would be sold. Using an average of $22 per wreath, that's $16,500 (not counting shipping costs) raised through volunteer effort.

But for its volunteers and committees, Archuleta County would grind to a screeching halt.

Besides providing much-needed financial support to many worthy causes in the community, the Russ Hill Memorial Bazaar serves another useful function.

Russ Hill was an outsider who moved to Pagosa Springs, the same as Sam McNatt and most of the other folks who keep the bazaar going.

Yet he didn't let being a newcomer become a debilitating condition. He became involved, he volunteered, he held public office, he served on committees.

Like Sam McNatt and his cohorts at Community United Methodist Church, he made a positive contribution to Pagosa Springs.

The Russ Hill Memorial Christmas Bazaar isn't about Christmas wreaths, it's about individuals who willingly share talents acquired elsewhere, accept new challenges, become involved with kindred spirits and benefit an isolated valley in the San Juan Mountains that they rightly call "home."

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He's the fellow who took over the worldwide toy distribution route after Sam McNatt retired and moved to Pagosa.

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

David C. Mitchell


90 years ago

Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era files of Nov. 15, 1912

If every person interested in good roads in Archuleta County will spare a day occasionally working on the road nearest his home where it is most needed, it will hasten the day of good roads all over the county. You must remember this, that the county commissioners spend many a day on road business that they do not receive or ask pay for.

The overwhelming defeat of statewide prohibition was not so much an endorsement of liquor as it was a repudiation of the long-haired calamity howlers who are chasing up and down the state with their fanatical ravings.

Local cattle shippers say they are getting the best railroad service this season that they have ever had.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Nov. 25, 1927

Inasmuch as diptheria has taken a toll of several lives each year in the Trujillo neighborhood alone, to say nothing of those lost because of germs carried away from there, and also the great danger from the fact that residents of Trujillo must pay $25 per trip for a doctor or else bundle up their sick and bring them, germs and all, to Pagosa, is it not time to ask our county officials to do something?

Charles Martin, who resides on the Weminuche, suffered a fracture of his right leg yesterday afternoon while riding horseback near his ranch. The horse fell, Mr. Martin being pinned beneath the animal. Notwithstanding his broken limb, he managed to remount his horse and ride a distance of two miles to his home.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Nov. 21, 1952

The first real snowstorm of the winter arrived last Saturday evening, leaving a little more than 12 inches of snow that contained .86 inches of moisture. The storm continued through Saturday night, Sunday and Sunday night, with clearing skies Monday.

The Woman's Civic Club met at the home of Mrs. John R. Stevenson on Thursday evening. The club voted not to sponsor the Christmas lighting this year, but rather to use the money for the library. It is hoped that some other organization will undertake this project. In any case, people are urged to continue to participate in this worthwhile project as they have in the past years.

The revival meetings at the First Baptist Church have begun and will continue through November 30th.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Nov. 17, 1977

There were 12 auto accidents in this immediate area the past week. Several of these were accidents involving either deer or elk. Big game seems to be on the move and motorists are asked to keep a sharp eye out for deer and elk.

Big game hunting is over for the year here. One boy was accidently shot and killed during the big game season, several hunters became lost for brief periods, there were no serious incidents reported other than the accidental shooting. Local game officials report that hunters did well in this area.

The weather the past week has been very nice. Skiers and snowmobilers are hoping for enough of the white stuff so that they can get out and have at it.