December 5, 2002

 Front Page

DA finds no evidence to prosecute assault case

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

An assault case that brought television news cameras to Pagosa Springs along with whispers of dangerous motorcycle gangs in the area and inadequate law enforcement response has stalled due to insufficient evidence.

The case involved Pagosan Tracey Salazar, who claimed to have been assaulted by members of a motorcycle club Oct. 31. However, according to the sheriff's department investigation, the answer to who actually started the altercation was unclear.

A deputy first arrived at the scene of the alleged assault after a call to dispatch alerted law enforcement to a fight at the Shell Station at U.S. 160 and North Pagosa Boulevard. According to department reports, when the deputy arrived on the scene, Salazar was bleeding from a wound to his head. An ambulance was called and the injuries photographed.

Apparently the incident started with road rage between the drivers of two vehicles, Salazar's and another containing suspected members of the Sons of Silence motorcycle club. The parties yelled at each other and then pulled into the Shell Station where the verbal battle continued. Others from a third vehicle joined the argument. Eventually, the verbal confrontation escalated to a physical one.

By the time the deputy arrived, several of those involved had already left the scene. An investigation followed. Salazar, who felt the county sheriff's department had handled the case incorrectly, began handing out letters calling for Sheriff Tom Richard's resignation. He also sent a complaint to Ken Salazar, Colorado attorney general, blaming unnamed judges, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney's office - which had yet to review his case at the time - for failing to prosecute violent offenders in the county.

All information gathered during the official investigation was sent on to the district attorney's office in Durango.

"At this time the district attorney's position is that there is insufficient evidence to bring charges against anyone," Deputy District Attorney Andy Hughes said. Both he and District Attorney Sarah Law reviewed the case.

They did conclude that the Archuleta County Sheriff's Department did a thorough job of investigating the case.


Dog hybrids blamed in deaths of 24 fowl, 1 sheep

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Twenty-four chickens and one sheep were killed in an apparent dog attack in Archuleta County Sunday.

According to sheriff's department reports, a deputy responded to the 100 block of Corral Court in the Aspen Springs subdivision about 10 p.m. after residents there came home to discover the dead animals.

Apparently the residents arrived in time to see two dogs, possibly wolf hybrids, on the property, with feathers on their faces. The dogs were wearing harnesses.

The 24 chickens and one sheep killed in the attack were valued at about $400. One other sheep was injured and received medical attention. Cost of the veterinary care is unknown at this point.

Further investigation led the deputy to a nearby home where two dogs matching the description of the ones seen at the Corral Court property had escaped earlier in the day.

A summons for unlawful ownership of dangerous dogs was issued to the apparent owners.

According to the reports, the suspect dogs, or wolf hybrids, were involved in a similar case in the same area July 22. At that time, the owner received a deferred sentence.


Natural gas rate slashed by 7 percent

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Natural gas users in the Pagosa Springs area are getting an early Christmas present, one which will save them some money.

Kinder Morgan Inc., announced the Colorado Public Utilities Commission has approved the company's Gas Cost Adjustment filing, which will result in a 7-percent decrease in natural gas rates locally.

The lower rate reflects an expected decrease in projected market costs for natural gas for the period which began Dec. 1 and continues through Oct. 31. By law, the company is required to pass the cost of purchasing natural gas through to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis without realizing any profit.

Dan Watson, president of Kinder Morgan's retail natural gas division, said "The GCA mechanism provides the company with the flexibility to adjust rates periodically, either up or down, to ensure customers are paying the same for natural gas as what it costs the company to purchase it on their behalf.

"In this case," he said, "we are pleased to be passing along a decrease."

What does that mean to the Pagosa Springs consumer?

Basically, Watson said, it is a decrease compared to last year in the same billing period. The new rate ($0.4834 per CCF) became effective Sunday and will be reflected on the next billing cycle.

Watson said the typical homeowner in the Pagosa Springs area will see annual cost drop from $520 to $483 based on an average annual usage of 1,000 CCF.

Kinder Morgan, which purchased the Pagosa Springs area natural gas service from Citizens Utilities, is classed as one of the largest energy transportation and storage companies in America, operating more than 35,000 miles of natural gas and products pipelines.

The company also owns the general partner interest of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners L.P., the largest publicly traded pipeline limited partnership in the U.S. in terms of market capitalization. Combined, the two companies have an enterprise value of approximately $17 billion.

And now, the company has a reputation as a local Santa for those using natural gas to heat their homes.


PAWS sees higher budget, no rate hike — for now

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Property taxes are increasing, but user rates will remain the same for customers of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District.

District directors are expected to approve a 2003 budget at their regular meeting Tuesday. The budget for the coming year is expected to be larger than this year's budget, according to Carrie Campbell, general manager for the utility.

Much of the increase is attributed to the nearly $16 million in general obligation bonds approved by district voters this past year.

"We are not planning to increase user fees at this time," Campbell said. "We will probably initiate a rate study, probably after the first of the year. We'll need the results of that study before we take any action concerning rates."

Two factors revealed as a result of this year's drought could have a future effect on user fees. One factor is the $4.25 surcharge added to monthly bills. The surcharge was initiated early this year when the district began pumping 2 million gallons of water a day from the San Juan River diversion point south of town. The surcharge pays for the electricity consumed by the pumps.

Water supplied by the pumps is fed to the new water treatment plant located at the district's Vista headquarters. Called the San Juan Treatment Plant, that facility was put in operation early this year. In addition to supplying the San Juan Treatment Plant, water from the river is used to restore levels in drought-stricken lakes west of town.

"The drought is not over," Campbell said. "It probably will be next April before we can evaluate how much water we have stored and how much we need for the coming summer. In the meantime, we will continue to pump from the San Juan and continue to levy the surcharge."

The surcharge is related to the rate study because, in the future, all or part of the surcharge may be included in monthly rates, depending on conclusions derived from the rate study. It is likely the district will always pump some amount of water from the river south of town.

A second factor that might affect future rates is an anticipated study of the equivalent unit system used by the district as a common denominator for billing and planning. The district has been under some pressure to bill based on direct consumption instead of equivalent units. Critics say the equivalent unit system is unfair because, by its nature, it involves a rounding off process that results in charges that exceed consumption.

"We will study equivalent unit usage and may make some changes," Campbell said.

Property taxes paid to the district will increase for two reasons. First, the overall assessed value of the district increased. The amount of taxes due is the result of multiplying the assessed value by the tax rate. Second, the tax rate is going up. Driving the tax rate increase is the need for money to repay the two general obligation bonds approved by voters earlier this year.

PAWS is divided into District 1 and District 2, each with a distinctive property tax rate and tax bill.

District 1 provides water and sanitation services to the core area of subdivisions west of town generally located north of U.S. 160 and west of Piedra Road. District 1 has an assessed value of $69.8 million for the 2003 budget, compared with an assessed value of $66 million for the previous year. The tax rate for the 2003 budget is 18.726 mills, up from the 7.19 mills used for the 2002 budget. Property tax income for the 2003 budget is estimated at $1.3 million, a substantial increase over the $474,307 received last year. Creating the increase is the income needed to begin repayment of a $10.35 million general obligation bond approved by voters Nov. 5 for water capital improvements, and a $5 million general obligation bond approved by voters May 5 for sewer capital improvements services

District 2 provides water services to subdivisions west of town and south of U.S. 160, the town, and the areas around town formerly served by the Archuleta Water Company. The new assessed value of District 2 is $59.7 million, compared with $57.9 million a year ago. The District 2 tax rate for the 2003 budget is 8.822 mills, up from the 3.049 mills levied to support the 2002 budget. District 2 property tax income is expected to be $527,027, up from the $176,668 property tax income received a year ago. The difference between this year and last year for District 2 is the amount of money needed to repay the $10.35 million general obligation bond for water capital improvements.

For budget purposes, the $10.35 million general obligation bond as income will be divided between the 2002 and 2003 budgets. The district's bond adviser recommended that the district spread the income over the two years saving tens of thousands of dollars for taxpayers.

Adding almost $5 million in revenues to the 2002 budget has required a revamping of that document.

Meanwhile, capital projects funded by the bonds will be carried as expenses in next year's budget.

The largest of those items are encasing Dutton Ditch and enlarging Stevens Reservoir. Preliminary engineering reports place the cost of the Dutton Ditch project at a little over $4 million, and the Stevens Reservoir project at $4.4 million.

District planners view both projects as steps that will help them meet future drought conditions.

Dutton Ditch is currently an open ditch diverting water from Snowball Creek to two district storage reservoirs, Lake Hatcher and Stevens Reservoir. As a water source, Dutton Ditch is not available during most of the summer because irrigators with higher water rights take all of the water. Because of freezing and other winter weather conditions, the amount of water moving through the open ditch during the winter is less than would be the case if a pipeline replaced the open ditch. Finally, the open ditch is subject to washouts rendering it useless for days or weeks at a time. If the ditch is encased it will not be subject to washouts.

Engineering consultants have identified encasement of the Dutton Ditch as the top capital improvement priority needed to combat water shortages during drought conditions.

The same engineers identified enlargement of Stevens Reservoir as the second most important task to alleviate drought conditions. In addition to enlarging the storage capacity of the reservoir, the project envisions increasing the volume of water the Stevens treatment plant is capable of processing.

Campbell said she hopes the district can complete the Dutton Ditch project this coming year and at least begin the Stevens Reservoir project.

Some obstacles remain in the way. The district has not yet obtained the permits required from the U.S. Forest Service for those portions of the Dutton Ditch right of way that cross Forest Service land. Neither does the district have Army Corps of Engineers 404 permits required before work on Stevens Reservoir can begin, Campbell said.

"It doesn't seem to make sense to start final engineering until we obtain the permits," she added.

The district has been working at obtaining the permits for at least a couple of years, according to Campbell.


Los Pinos Fire District gets corner of county

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

The southwestern corner of Archuleta County is part of the Los Pinos Fire District following a Tuesday election during which voters approved the idea 208-30.

A second question on the ballot asking if the Cabezon Canyon area should also be included in the Los Pinos Fire District went down to a resounding 5-0 defeat.

All of Ignacio School District 11Jt is to be included in the Los Pinos Fire District. That school district stretches into Archuleta County 5.5 miles northeasterly from Arboles on Colo. 151 and easterly on County Road 500 to approximately the Pagosa Junction area. The Los Pinos Fire District office is in Ignacio.

Much of the area, particularly in the vicinity of Allison and Arboles, has been served by Mount Allison Fire Department volunteers from a fire station located in Allison. Allison is located in La Plata County along Colo. 151 approximately one mile west of the Archuleta County line.

Approval of the inclusion included approval of adding a 3.52 mill property tax to all of the new territory. The 3.52 mills is the same as the operating mill levy already assessed against existing property owners in the Los Pinos Fire District. The new tax will be levied during 2003, but the fire district will not receive income from the new tax until 2004.

The new boundaries became official as soon as the vote was recorded, according to Larry Behrens, the Los Pinos Fire District chief. Behrens is making plans to upgrade fire services in the new territory. He plans to conduct a community meeting during January in the Allison-Arboles area.

"Given the overwhelming margin of victory," Behrens said, "I expect our board will approve a lease purchase arrangement to start a new fire building in the Arboles area this coming spring."

Behrens is also applying for a $307,000 energy impact grant as a fund-raiser. Energy impact grants are based on the impacts of gas, oil, coal and other energy-related activities on an area.

"I think we are going to see a big increase in gas wells in that area next year," Behrens said. "That should help us get the grant."


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Chance for snow to return late Saturday

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Pagosa skies should clear today and tomorrow before the next weather system containing potential for precipitation moves in Saturday, according to David Nadler, a forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction.

Today's forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with high temperatures in the upper 30s or lower 40s, low temperatures in the teens. Skies will remain partly cloudy tomorrow, Nadler said, but a new system could move in from the West Coast Saturday.

Saturday should be cloudy with a slight chance for snow, according to Nadler, with high temperatures in the 30s and low temperatures in the 20s.

By Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Pagosa Country skies should again be clear.

Western Colorado is under a split flow, Nadler said. That will change Saturday when a small disturbance from the West Coast crosses Pagosa Country.

Western Weather Consultants, the Durango weather modification firm contracted to seed clouds in the Pagosa area, did just that with the storm that hit our area early this week, according to owner Larry Hjermstad.

Western Weather Consultants has ground generators located south, west and northwest of Pagosa Springs. The generators emit silver iodide particles when turned on. In this instance, the generators were initiated about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and turned off about 8 p.m., when the wind direction shifted to the north, Hjermstad said.

Pagosa Country received .08 inches of precipitation Sunday, .01 inches Monday, .05 inches Tuesday, and .06 inches of precipitation by 11:35 a.m. Wednesday. Snowfall Tuesday and Wednesday totaled 1.75 inches, according to weather measuring equipment located at the Fred Harman Art Museum.

High temperatures last week ranged between 48.6 and 37.5 degrees, low temperatures between 24.7 and 15.3 degrees.

Wolf Creek Ski Area reported 55 inches of snow at the summit, 42 inches of snow midway at 6:30 a.m. yesterday. The last storm dropped 6 inches of new snow, bringing the seasonal snowfall total to 125 inches. The temperature at the resort was 19 degrees at 6:30 a.m. yesterday. Yesterday's high temperature at Wolf Creek was 33 degrees, the low temperature 18 degrees.

The three-month winter season officially begins Dec. 21, also the day of the year with the least hours of daylight and the most hours of darkness. Following Dec. 21, the hours of daylight will begin increasing. By March 21, the hours of daylight will equal the hours of darkness. After March 21 and until June 21, the hours of daylight will exceed the hours of darkness. The most hours of daylight will be June 21, the first day of summer. Following June 21 the number of daylight hours decreases daily until the first day of fall, when the number of daylight and dark hours is again equal.

Meanwhile, rustle up a warmer coat. The average mean December temperature in Pagosa Springs is 22.8 degrees. January is the only month with colder temperatures. The average mean January temperature is 19.8 degrees. The coldest temperature ever recorded during December was the minus 34 degrees recorded Christmas Day during 1990.

The maximum December snowfall was 72 inches in 1967. During that year, 204 inches of snow fell in town.

 Sports Page
Parks & Rec

Over 100 registered for youth basketball leagues

By Junior Lister

SUN Columnist

The 2003 youth basketball sign-ups are in and ready for us to process and divide into teams. Over 105 athletes have signed up for this year's program. We will try to have all teams formed by Dec. 19.

This year the 9-10 athletes will have a mandatory workout day Dec. 14 at 1 and 2 p.m. Players will be split into two workout sessions, a coach or basketball commissioner will call the players and give them the time to report to the community center gymnasium.

The 11-12 players will have their mandatory workout at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at the community center. After the workouts, coaches and commissioners will host a draft at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 19 for the 11-12 players and at 6:30 p.m. for athletes 9 and 10 years old. The drafts are to be attended by coaches and commissioners only.

The teams will be in place and coaches will notify athletes of practice times. We will host practice starting Dec. 20 through the Christmas break, with games starting Jan. 7 for all age groups.

Schedules are:

Dec. 14 - Elks Hoop Shoot, 8:30 a.m. at the community center.

Dec. 14 - Mandatory workout for 9- and 10-year-olds 1 and 2 p.m. in the community center.

Dec. 16 - Mandatory workout for 11- and 12-year-olds at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. in the community center.

Dec. 19 - Coaches meeting 5:30 p.m. for 10- and 11-year-olds and drafting of teams.

Dec. 19 - Coaches meeting 6:30 p.m. for 9- and 10-year-olds and drafting of teams.

Dec. 20-Jan. 6 - Check on gymnasium availability for practices through the parks and recreation office at 264-4151, Ext. 232 for Chris, or Ext. 231 for Junior.

Happy Holidays

The parks and recreation department would like to take the time to thank all the sponsors for this year's teams; they really step up and help fund a lot of these programs.

The next time you feel like driving to Durango or Farmington to shop, think again. Those merchants do not come here to sponsor our programs. Every time I walk into a business or have someone stop me on the street and say, "What can I do to help the kids?" I feel lucky to live in a supportive community.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all volunteer coaches for the fine job they do in making our activities so much better. Without the volunteers there would be no sports activities for the young people of Pagosa Springs.

These are your local business owners, schoolteachers, county workers, etc. who put in countless hours helping our youth, so let's shop local and return the favor.

Help wanted

The department needs referees, scorekeepers and especially an ice skating instructor who can work evenings and Saturdays during the winter to teach very basic ice skating at the ponds. If you are interested, call Town Hall, 264-4151, Ext. 231.


Cheerleaders prep for state spirit competition Dec. 14

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

You've heard of getting your 15 minutes of fame.

How about having to compact that opportunity into a 2.5-minute segment in a venue you've never seen and putting your skills on the line for a chance to make your school proud?

That's the task awaiting the 18 members of the Pagosa Springs High School varsity cheerleader squad.

First-year coach Renee Davis will escort her charges to Denver next week for a Dec. 14 performance at 12:15 p.m. in the Denver Coliseum.

They won't have time to get nervous or react to performances of other competitors in the Class 3A spirit award event, Davis said, "because we'll be the first squad to perform. That might be a good omen, because the others will then have to base their performances on what they've seen us do."

She has been working the girls hard for the appearance.

"We've a challenge to meet," she said. "We have to compact our routines into a 2 1/2-minute segment and are mandated to do three cheers and two chants. We will be working with music incorporated into the routines for the first time in public."

Davis, who had no returning members of the cheerleading squad when she took over in mid-August, has been pleased with the development of the girls in the ensuing months.

They have come together on a performance basis, Davis said, and "seem to be peaking at the right time. Time, in fact, is the key right now. We have to keep our performance within the time allotted but still finish each routine."

The squad features more climbing, pyramid and dance routines than have predecessors, and has engendered strong fan support in fall appearances for soccer, football and volleyball.

Members of the squad seen in the accompanying photo, with the exception of Carmen Cook who was absent, are: Arlie Johnson, Nikki Davis, Jenea Mendoza, Misti Davis, JoAnna Kuros, Natalie Przybylski, Abbey Lucero, Kelly Johnson, Taryn Barnett, Kaylee Barnett, Heather McCauley, Kelcie Mastin, Becca Williams, Lynda Johnson, Kelly Freudenberger, Kacey McCracken and Nikki Kinkad.


Pirates open season absent wrestlers at four weights

By Karl Isberg

Staff Writer

Pirate wrestlers hit the mats Saturday to start the season, traveling to the Rocky Ford Invitational where they will see a number of the state's best 3A teams.

The Rocky Ford Invitational is a dual-meet tournament, putting 12 teams into four pools in the first round of action. The winners of each pool proceed to the semifinal round; the other teams go to the consolation bracket.

According to Pirate coach Dan Janowsky, the lineup at Rocky Ford this year should provide stiff competition for his athletes. Included in the tournament, with the host Meloneers and the Pirates, are La Junta, Roosevelt, Trinidad, Las Animas, Crowley County, University, Platte Valley, Canon City, Pueblo Centennial and Taos N.M.

"We get at least four duals," said Janowsky, "and each kid gets at least four matches if the other teams fill that weight class."

The tourney also gives the Pirates a glimpse of some 3A opponents who traditionally show up at the state tournament. "Ten of the teams are 3As we won't see the rest of the regular season," said the coach, "since Rocky Ford and La Junta are no longer in our region. These are some very good teams and this tournament gives us a chance to find out what some of the teams from the north and south of the plains are like. When we go to the Warrior in Grand Junction, we'll get to see some of the 3A teams from the west."

The Rocky Ford event should be enough to get the team off the ground and moving at a good pace. "It's a tough enough tournament that you get tested," said Janowsky.

The Pirates will compete at Rocky Ford going into each match 24 points down - absent wrestlers at four weights: 103, 119, 189 and either 215 or 275 pounds.

Darren Hockett will start the season at 112 pounds.

Michael Maestas will fight at 125.

The Pirates will put Justin Bloomquist in the ring at 130 and four wrestlers will wrestle off this week to see who goes at 135 and 140 - senior Cliff Hockett and sophomores Manuel Madrid, Paul Armijo and Raul Palmer.

David Richter will be Pagosa's man this week at 145, with Aaron Hamilton, Charles Sosbe and Nick Chavez vying in wrestle-offs to take a place at 152.

Zeb Gill will be light at 160 as will Jordan Kurt-Mason at 171.

Craig Lucero will fight at either 215 or 275.

"I'm happy to start the season," said Janowsky. "Practices have been going well. We're further ahead at this stage, in terms of conditioning and technique, than we've been in a long time."

The action at Rocky Ford begins at 9 a.m. Saturday.


Pirates kick off season in Buena Vista tournament

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Pagosa Springs' boys' basketball team opens the 2002-2003 season tomorrow night against the Salida Spartans in the first round of the Buena Vista Tournament.

Saturday, the Pagosa boys play either Buena Vista or Battle Mountain. Saturday's matchups depend on which teams wins Friday. Friday's winners meet Saturday for the tournament championship. Friday's losers play Saturday for the consolation championship.

Pagosa coach Jim Shaffer begins his second season with four starters returning from the squad which tied for the regular-season Intermountain League title last year. In addition to experience, the Pagosa boys are taller than previous Pagosa teams. Even with four returning starters, the Pagosa squad is young. The only seniors are Jason Schutz and Brandon Charles.

Schutz and Charles are expected to step in as leaders. Schutz has picked up considerable playing time over the last three years and, at 6-foot-5, is expected to be a scoring and rebounding factor. He was an IML first team performer last season.

Charles is beginning his second year as a starter at point guard. In that position, he is expected to direct the Pirate attack. Charles has practiced sparingly this season because of injuries suffered during the football season. Charles was an IML second team performer last season.

Supplying the remainder of Pagosa's height are Caleb Forrest and Clayton Spencer, both starters last season and both stretching the tape at 6-foot-6. Forrest is only a sophomore this year, Spencer a junior.

With Schutz, Forrest, and Spencer all on the floor at the same time, Shaffer's team will have more height than most 3A schools. The height gives the coach the option of running a high, low post offense and still have Schutz's height and experience threatening from another part of the floor.

Joining Charles at a guard position is junior Ryan Goodenberger. Goodenberger picked up a lot of playing time last season. The two guards will have to prove they can bring the ball upcourt and work it into the big men if forced into a half court offense. They will also have to provide scoring from the outside in order to prevent other teams from settling into a zone defense or in other ways packing in against the big men to keep them from getting the ball.

If Pagosa is to advance in the playoffs, backup depth must be found for the starting five. Supplying that depth for Pagosa are Ty Faber, Brandon Samples, Coy Ross, Otis Rand, Jeremy Caler, David Kern and Casey Belarde.

Pagosa plays in the 3A IML along with Bayfield, Centauri, Ignacio and Monte Vista. Three teams from the IML advance into the state playoffs. Each team plays each other team in the league twice during the regular season. In addition, a district tournament is held.

In the past, any team which won the IML title was protected, guaranteed the chance to advance beyond the district tournament and into the playoffs. If IML officials choose to continue to protect the regular season league winner, then the two teams finishing highest during the tournament, in addition to the league winner, will advance into the playoffs.

Pagosa Springs is pushing to have the method of selecting the three league representatives changed this season, according to David Hamilton, the athletic director. IML officials met yesterday to discuss a change.

Last year, Pagosa Springs and Monte Vista tied for the league title. Monte Vista came out No. 1 in a coin toss. Consequently, for the tournament, Monte Vista was seeded first, Pagosa Springs second, Centauri third, and Ignacio fourth.

Ignacio finished the regular season tied for last with Bayfield. Ignacio reached the tournament as fourth seed by beating Bayfield in a pigtail game before the tournament.

On opening night of the tournament, No. 1 Monte Vista lost to No. 4 Ignacio and No. 2 Pagosa Springs lost to No. 3 Centauri. Because Monte Vista was protected and guaranteed the right to advance, the second night championship game between Ignacio and Centauri was meaningless, except for seeding purposes. Beyond that, there was no point in Pagosa Springs and Monte Vista playing the consolation game the second night. Monte was already guaranteed to advance. Consequently, Pagosa Springs stayed home the second night.

"We're looking at several formats for changing so that doesn't happen again," Hamilton said.

As the season opens, no team is a clear-cut favorite to capture the IML title. Most of Ignacio's team is returning. Based on their strong finish to end last year, the Bobcats appear to be the favorites for the coming year.

A number of basketball pundits like Centauri's chances. The Falcons narrowly missed winning the league title last season. Because it tied for the title last season and has a number of returning veterans, Pagosa also has to be considered in the title chase. Monte Vista lost the most through graduation, but the green and gold Pirates have probably been the league's most consistent team over the past 10 yeas.

League play for Pagosa does not begin until Jan. 18 when the Pirates host Centarui.

Prior to league play, the Pirates participate in the Buena Vista Tournament this weekend, stay home for the annual Wolf Creek Classic Dec. 12 and 13, then play in the Pueblo Holiday Tournament Dec. 20 and 21.

Following Christmas and New Year, Pagosa plays at Durango High School Jan. 11, hosts Aztec, N.M., High School Jan. 13, and hosts Bloomfield, N.M., Jan. 17.

Last Saturday, the Pirates hosted Cortez in a scrimmage. No score was kept and other actions were taken to ensure the scrimmage did not count as a game. Cortez is the defending Colorado 4A champion and favored to claim their title again. Most of last year's championship squad has returned.

Pagosa did not look good in the matchup. Pirate starters Charles and Spencer did not play.

"I don't like to make excuses, but our boys have only been practicing about two weeks," Shaffer said. "We were missing the experience of our point guard and couldn't run some of the offense we expect to use later in the season. Cortez is a fine team and they play together all of the time. Only one member of their team played football. They go all over to play basketball as a team, Dallas and other places, and they are always playing championship caliber teams."

Charles and Spencer are expected to participate in the Buena Vista Tournament.


Ladies face Salida Friday in Buena Vista tourney

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

With a scrimmage against someone other than themselves now behind them, the Pagosa Springs Lady Pirates will find out Friday and Saturday just what they have to look forward to on the basketball court.

The scrimmage, against Durango, was too late last night for coverage in today's paper. It had originally been scheduled Tuesday but was moved back a day last week.

Coach Bob Lynch is upbeat for his first turn at the helm of a traditionally tough Lady Pirates squad and is looking forward to the Buena Vista tournament this weekend to see where the girls stand compared to others and what they'll have to work on.

Lynch said he's initially planning to go with a corps of seven varsity players, and swing five from junior varsity to varsity for each game.

It may not always be the same five, he said. "It will depend on who's working the hardest, who has the hot hand, and who seems most willing to put their individual performances aside for the team's benefit."

Lynch knows it will be a rebuilding year, with five seniors having graduated from the 2001-2002 squad.

"I have just two seniors this year," he noted, "but both are seasoned veterans." He was referring to point guard Shannon Walkup and forward Katie Bliss who were named Monday as team captains for this year. Walkup was a starter two years ago but was in Texas last year. Bliss started most of last season and both are being counted on to lend senior leadership to the young squad.

Shannon's sophomore sister Lori, and her sophomore running mate Bri Scott will provide outside shooting and ability to drive the lanes.

Lynch believes 6-foot-1-inch sophomore Caitlyn Jewell can be the team's power player in the box. Practice sessions reflect her talent but a tendency to be unsure of herself.

He may also get some post action from 6-foot freshman Emily Buikema whose practice sessions have been limited by tendinitis. Another sophomore, Molly Honan, had varsity experience last year and has been coming on in practice in the past week. The coach also had praise for sophomore Melissa Maberry who had extensive junior varsity play last year.

Lynch also has been impressed by the practice performance of freshmen China Rose Rivas, Liz Kelly and Caitlin Forrest. Also expected to challenge for varsity playing time are juniors Melissa Diller and Leslie Martinez and sophomore Laura Tomford.

The Ladies are scheduled to play the opener of the Buena Vista invitational at 4 p.m. Friday against Salida's Lady Spartans. Also in the tournament are the host school and Battle Mountain.

The following weekend, Pagosa residents will get their first chance to see the new version Lady Pirates in action as they host the annual Wolf Creek Classic with guest squads including Clear Creek, Gunnison and Jefferson high schools, all new to the Classic guest list.

The Ladies will host Dolores at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 and will close out play for 2002 in the Rye Classic Dec. 20 and 21 where foes will include Florence, the host and St. Mary's of Colorado Springs.


Pagosa teen lassoes 5th place in nationals

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

A Pagosa Springs teenager has a fancy new silver belt buckle and an even fancier $2,300 prize for his performance in national competition.

Marcos Mendoza, 16, son of Mr. and Mrs. Quintin Mendoza, finished in fifth place in team roping competition in the U.S. Teen Roping national championships held in Laughlin, Nev.

A nine-year resident of the Pagosa Springs area, he has been roping for six years and has been in actual competition for three years.

In most competitions, he said, he chooses his own roping partner, but in the nationals, had to depend on luck of the draw. He was paired in that competition with a teen from California.

His mother said her husband has worked with the Marcos and a brother since they were small "and any success they achieve reflects on his continued interest in their performance."

What's next?

Marcos, who is home-schooled, said he'll be appearing Dec. 26 in another team roping competition in Scottsdale, Ariz.


Three gridiron Pirates, coach named IML All-Conference

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Three members of the Intermountain League football champion Pagosa Springs Pirates have been named to the 2002 All-Conference team. In addition, Pagosa head coach Sean O'Donnell has been selected as Coach of the Year.

The Pirate coach announced the All-Conference selections to parents and friends of the league champions gathered for an awards banquet Tuesday night at the high school.

O'Donnell led the Pirates to the league title this season, his first year as head coach. In addition to capturing the league title, Pagosa defeated Manitou Springs 28-27 in double overtime in the first round of playoff action before suffering a season-ending 10-0 loss to Eagle Valley in the quarter finals.

Pagosa's gridders have captured the IML title four consecutive seasons.

Named to the first team offense and defense are seniors Pablo Martinez and Brandon Charles. This is the third year for Martinez to receive All-Conference honors. Charles is being honored for the second year.

Junior Kory Hart is on the first team defensive unit as a lineman. Senior Brandon Rosgen was an honorable mention selection on the offensive team this year at running back.

Martinez received first team honors this season as a lineman on offense and as a linebacker on defense. He was named to the first team offensive and defensive units as a junior during 2001 and as an honorable mention linebacker while a sophomore during 2000.

The all-purpose Charles was selected for the first team as a running back and as a linebacker for the season just completed. During 2001, Charles was named to the first team offense as a receiver and gained honorable mention the same year as a defensive back.

All-conference selections from the league's other teams are: Player of the Year, Ben Carlucci, Monte Vista; running backs - Jay Miller, Bayfield, Ben Neil, Ignacio, Glen Marquez, Monte Vista; receivers - Michael Brady, Centauri, and Laramie Miller, Ignacio; offensive linemen - Brandon Luter, Bayfield; Andrew Arellano, Centauri; John Gurule, Ignacio; Zeke Sisneros, Monte Vista; Seth George, Monte Vista; place kicker - Steven Qualls, Bayfield; return specialist - Lorenzo Rodriguez, Ignacio.

First team defensive selections are: linemen/linebackers - Jay Miller, Bayfield; Kyle Wolff, Bayfield; Michael Brady, Centauri; Andrew Arellano, Centauri; Laramy Miller, Ignacio; Seth George, Monte Vista; Zeke Sisneros, Monte Vista; defensive backs - Eric Nelson, Bayfield; Chris Phillips, Ignacio; Micah Trujillo, Monte Vista; punter - Craig Booth, Centauri; honorable mention linebacker - Ben Carlucci, Monte Vista.

All-Conference selections are made by league coaches at the end of regular season play. The names of those selected are not released until all teams from the IML have been eliminated from playoff action. In the case of selections from Pagosa Springs and at the request of O'Donnell, The SUN withheld releasing the names of Pagosa Springs' selections until after the team's awards banquet. 



Emory Minium

Emory Minium, who was born and raised in Pagosa Springs and later became a mainstay of the Aztec, N.M., business community, died Nov. 17, 2002.

He met LaMoyne Medders in Pagosa Springs in 1947. They were married in 1948, and enjoyed 47 years of love and support for each other. In 1950 they moved to Aztec where they opened Navajo Novelty Shop. They later built a larger building next door where they operated the business until their retirement in 1988.

Mr. Minium enjoyed the friendships that resulted from the many customers who passed through the store over the years. He was especially proud of the fact he was able to know and appreciate three generations of families during their time in the store.

He was a former mayor of Aztec, a city commissioner and served on the board for the Aztec Museum. He was active in both the Aztec Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club. He was proud of the appellation "One of the Six Old Soreheads" of Aztec and always viewed it as a way to promote the city. It was a delight for him to be able to discuss the signs promoting the "soreheads" with visitors.

He loved the Lord and was always active and involved with his church where he served in a number of callings, from treasurer to deacon. He had a special fondness for gospel music and enjoyed listening at every opportunity.

He was preceded in death by LaMoyne, and in 1997, married Marinell and they thoroughly enjoyed their almost five years together. He was also preceded in death by brothers Leland and Cecil.

Survivors are Marinell; a son, Jule and wife, Helen, of Canyon, Texas; a daughter, Debbie and husband, Ed, of Aztec and five grandchildren: Michael and wife Diane, Stephanie and Mark of Texas, Billy, Kimberly and husband Shawn of Aztec; a special niece, Joyce Jones of Aztec; a sister, Maxine and husband Ray Avery of Beach Lake, Pa., Marinell's daughters Vicki, JoAnn, Martha and their families.

Memorial donations may be made to Aztec Museum, 125 N. Main, the Memorial Rose Garden, 322 .S. Church St., or a favorite charity.

Services were held Nov. 22 at the LDS church in Aztec with the Rev. Joe O'Neal of First Baptist Church officiating.

Charles Maedgen

Private memorial services for Charles Eric Maedgen, 52, long-time resident of Pagosa Springs, were held Nov. 27, 2002, in Lubbock, Texas, with the Rev. John H. Ballard officiating. Maedgen died Nov. 25, 2002.

Maedgen was born in Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 25, 1950 and graduated from Lubbock's Coronado High School. He attended Southwestern University, Texas A&M University, and graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography.

He lived in Pagosa Springs until moving to Lubbock in October 2001. In Pagosa Springs, he served as a reserve deputy, worked with the local search and rescue organization, and was a member of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church. He was a charter member of the Pagosa Springs Rotary Club and was a Paul Harris Fellow. He worked with the Boy Scouts of America and the Explorer Scouts in both Colorado and Lubbock.

He married Cynthia Phillips Nov. 19, 1977, in Lubbock, Texas.

He is survived by his wife; his mother, Louise F. Maedgen; his sister, Lisa White; and two nieces, Erin and Amy White, all of Lubbock.

Memorials are suggested to the Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Rachelle Nyfeler

Rachelle Ann (Shelly) Jacobson Nyfeler went home to be with her Heavenly Father Sunday, Nov. 24, 2002. Rachelle had a long illness that she battled courageously. Rachelle was 33 years young, born June 10, 1969, in Durango, Colo.

Rachelle lived in Pagosa Springs until she graduated from high school. She graduated from Fort Lewis College, summa cum laude, with a degree in journalism and archeology. Rachelle and her husband Michael made their home in Vancouver, Wash.

Rachelle had many talents and hobbies which included jewelry making, watching hockey with her mother, bouldering, photography, boating, fishing and spending time with her family as often as possible. Rachelle had a fondness for her cats and her pet lizards.

Rachelle was preceded in death by her half sister, Linda Jacobson, her maternal grandfather Millard Seavy, a long-time Pagosa Springs resident, and her paternal grandparents, Albert and Rachel Jacobson.

Rachelle is survived by her soulmate and loving husband of 11 years, Michael Nyfeler; her mother, Peggy Seavy Jacobson of Bloomfield, N.M.; her father Bradley Jacobson of Fruitland, N.M.; maternal grandmother, Ann Alice Seavy; maternal aunt, Hazel Anderson, sister, Tawnya Yarbro and husband Nathan; brother, Millard Jacobson all of Bloomfield, N.M.; brother, Shawn Jacobson and wife Sarah of Durango.

Rachelle is also survived by her half sister, Connie Kimball and husband, Jay, of Bloomfield, N.M.; half sister, Brianna and half brother Vaughan Jacobson and wife Judy, all of Pagosa Springs. Rachelle has two nieces and five nephews whom she adored. Rachelle has numerous cousins, half nieces and nephews and cousins, all of whom she touched in a loving way.

Rachelle was a kind and intelligent person who had many friends and she was always willing to help anyone who needed her. Rachelle will be greatly missed.

Cremation and burial will take place in Portland, Ore. There will be a celebration of Rachelle's life Dec. 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the Church of the Nazarene, 419 San Juan Dr., Durango.

Contributions in Rachelle's name should be made to the youth group or charity of your choice.

Robert Kamrath

Rev. Robert Ferdnand Kamrath, 78, a former Pagosa Springs resident who served at Our Savior Lutheran Church and in the community, died Sunday, Nov. 24, 2002, at an Abilene, Texas medical center.

Funeral services were at 10 a.m. Nov. 29 at Zion Lutheran Church in Abilene with Rev. Clyde Kieschnick officiating. Burial was in Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Walburg, Texas, following a graveside service conducted by the Rev. John Davenport.

Kamrath was born and raised in Madison, Neb., where he graduated from Madison High School before enlisting in the Air Force in 1944. After the war he attended the University of Nebraska for a semester and then the University of California, Berkeley.

While pursuing his degree in engineering, he received his calling from the Lord and started his pre-seminary schooling at St. John's Lutheran College in Winfield, Kan., where he met Doris Richter. In 1951, they were married in Alice, Texas and moved to St. Louis, Mo., where he continued his training for the ministry at Concordia College. He graduated from the seminary and was ordained into the ministry in 1954.

From 1954-1971 he served Zion Lutheran in Fortuna, N.D., Redeemer Lutheran in Crosby, N.D., St. Matthew in Wildrose N.D., Mt. Olive Lutheran in Corpus Christi, Texas, St. Paul Lutheran in Klein, Texas, Faith Lutheran in Post Texas, St. Paul Lutheran in Sumner, Iowa and St. John Lutheran in Spring Fountain, Iowa.

In 1971 the family moved to Houston for training in clinical pastoral education at MD Anderson Hospital. During that time he also served at Trinity Lutheran in Klein, at Bethany Lutheran in Houston, and various vacancies in the area. From 1976-1984 he served as chaplain at Diagnostic and MD Anderson Hospitals in Houston. From 1984 to 1996 he and Doris lived in Gatesville, Texas, where he served and touched many lives as chaplain to inmates in the Texas State Prison System and also served First Lutheran Church.

In 1997, the couple moved to Pagosa Springs to enjoy their retirement and continued to serve the church and community here.

In October, 2002, they moved to Abilene to be closer to family members. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather, dear friend and pastor to many. He was a very compassionate, caring and loving man to everyone he met. He loved his work for the Lord, especially in the last years with the prison ministry. He will always be remembered for his big smile and bear hugs.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Clara Kamrath, and a sister, Donna Kamrath.

Survivors are his wife, Doris of Abilene; four sons, Stephen and wife Paulette of Georgetown, Texas, Timothy and wife Kathy of Cypress, Texas, Mark and wife Mary of Newburgh, Ind., and John of Georgetown; three daughters, Sheri Riggert and husband, Richard, of Lancaster, Calif., Susanne Kamrath of Abilene, and Ruthann Stroud and husband, Lynn, of Bryan, Texas; 10 grandchildren and special extended family members including Jerry and Kathy Jackson of Pagosa Springs.

Memorials may be made to Kairos Prison Ministry, The Lutheran Hour and Zion Lutheran Abilene Building Fund.

Alice Wilson

Alice Lee Wilson, born in Pagosa Springs Feb. 28, 1912 to John and Goldie Peterson, was raised on a ranch near the town and attended local schools. She died Nov. 17, 2002, in California.

A champion speller in Archuleta County, she once won a trip to Denver to represent the county in the state spelling bee. She lived for many years on ranches in the Pagosa Springs area and later in Durango.

She was married to Fred Wilson, who is deceased, and later to Ben Wilson of Walnut Creek, Calif., who survives. Other survivors are brothers Paul Peterson of Bloomfield, N.M., and Jack Peterson of Wickenburg, Ariz.; sisters Stella Morrison of Bayfield, and Lucille Conder of Ridgway; sons Wayne Wilson of Colorado Springs and Leon Wilson of Las Vegas, Nev.; daughters Peggy Mills of Colorado Springs and Patsy Parkhurst of Mt. Shasta, Calif.; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, who all called her Granny. She was preceded in death by a brother, Aubrey Peterson.

Alice was a beautiful, very caring person and will be greatly missed by all who knew her. She was a good wife, a great mom and an outstanding Granny and friend.

Funeral services were held in Lafayette, Calif., Nov. 22, 2002.

Donations may be made to National Down Syndrome Society, 666 Broadway, New York, NY, 10012; or the American Diabetes Association, PO Box 2680, North Canton, OH 44720.


 Inside The Sun


Rock Ridge project gets town's final plat approval

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

A third building planned at the Rock Ridge Commercial Center on Great West Avenue will be constructed facing south, as planned.

The Pagosa Springs Board of Trustees approved the final plat of the project with some conditions Tuesday, ending a month of discussions revolving around the orientation of the building and noise concerns. Neighbors in both the Rock Ridge Mobile Home Park and Rock Ridge Estates, wanted the building, scheduled to house an auto repair shop, to be turned toward the north or northeast to direct noise away from their homes. Developers contended that facing the building toward the north would not be feasible financially and would cause ice buildup in the winter.

When faced with the stalemate in November, the board of trustees tabled the item to give the developers time to answer some questions and work out concerns with the neighbors. Two special meetings and a noise study later, the trustees gave their stamp of approval.

The second special meeting, held Tuesday at the request of the developers, included a noise demonstration and engineering outline of why a north-facing building would not work on the site.

According to an engineering study by Coster Surveys LLC, facing the building toward the north would require a steep grade on the entrance drive that would increase the potential for vehicles to slide into a nearby gas meter or oncoming traffic. Snow accumulation with a north-facing building was another problem.

" Even with positive drainage away from the structure, you create a situation behind the building where snow would accumulate," a letter from the engineer said. In a heavy winter, that accumulation could build up to the point where the space was full, leaving no place for snow on the roof to go. Because of the shape of the lot, turning the building to face east wasn't a possibility either. A building oriented in that direction did not meet setback or parking requirements.

Developer Curt Johnson said turning the building would create traffic flow problems on the site and cut back on the number of parking spots available.

But the key reason offered for turning the building in the first place was noise concerns. Residents feared that noise from the auto repair shop would travel up to their homes. To demonstrate this was not the case the developers, Johnson and Michael Branch, presented noise tests showing levels of noise from air wrenches, perhaps the loudest equipment used in the auto shop, were well below state standards.

According to the standards, a jet airplane taking off at 200 feet equals about 120 dBA, a measurement of sound. Speech is about 70 dBA and the average residence with a television measures 50 dBA. The threshold of hearing is 20 dBA.

A test performed directly in front of an auto repair shop showed a high reading of less than 60 dBA, below the state's light industrial standard of up to 70 dBA. With the closest house at least 385 feet away, the noise level was negligible. To demonstrate, developers tried the test with neighbors and trustees at the special meeting a little over 160 feet from the air wrench. At that distance, it was difficult to hear the wrench at all over the existing noise of nearby U.S. 160.

To meet the conditions of approval, the developers will have to bring plans for future construction at the site to the town for review and provide financial guarantees to insure required work on drainage, landscaping and screening will be completed in the spring.


Donate packing to humane society

'Tis the season to be jolly.

But what to do with all that trash? Are you chasing Styrofoam peanuts and sitting on air packing pillows?

You can be rid of them simply by donating them to the Humane Society Thrift Store. You will reduce waste at the local landfill, while helping dogs and cats at the shelter.

Don't forget, the Humane Society is great at recycling, so be sure to donate all your Styrofoam peanuts, funny air pillows, aluminum cans, and empty ink and toner cartridges to the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs

For more information call 264-5549.


Silver Foxes want to share stories

By Musetta Wollenweber

Special to The SUN

Connections with others creates positive effects on our mental and emotional state. As we grow older these connections become even more vital for our health and well being. Friendship builds stronger immune systems and improves mental health. A friendly visitor can help meet these needs.

The Silver Foxes Den Senior Center has a few volunteers who are looking for someone to share stories with or just pass a little time.

We are also in need of several more volunteers for this program. If it is difficult for you to leave your home due to a disability this may be just the program for you.

If you or someone you know could benefit from having a friendly visitor call 264-2167 for further information.


Drainage work could force new Wolf Creek closures

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Construction crews are working on a project to go under the existing highway at the tunnel project on Wolf Creek pass to provide drainage. So far, the road has been kept open 24 hours a day. However, that may change.

To complete the project, because of the work under the existing road, night closures are being considered. If necessary, the highway will be closed from 7 p.m.-7 a.m. for a few days. Colorado Department of Transportation representatives plan to release these dates whenever they are finalized.

Currently, motorists can expect delays of up to 30 minutes at the construction site during the day, Monday through Friday. No construction will take place during the Christmas or New Year's holidays.

This year, work by CDOT and contractor Kiewit Western Company has been ongoing since the beginning of April. During construction of the 916-foot tunnel, crews will have removed and hauled away a total of 180,000 cubic yards (324,000 tons) of rock from the mountainside - enough to cover a football field with 108 feet of material. Project completion is expected sometime in 2003.

To advise motorists, there are five variable message boards located on U.S. 285 at Villa Grove, on U.S. 160 in Alamosa, South Fork and Pagosa Springs, and at the junction of U.S. 285 and Colo. 17 near Antonito. These message boards inform motorists of delays and night closures. Signs will be installed on an alternate route system to direct motorists traveling from Pagosa Springs to Alamosa through northern New Mexico on the alternate route.

Updated information regarding closures and delays can be found on the department's Web site at or the project hotline at (719) 873-2221 and on the department's toll-free road condition hotline at (877) 315-ROAD.


Town budget has flexibility built in for shortfall

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

It's a wrap.

The 2003 Town of Pagosa Spring's budget got the nod from the board of trustees Tuesday following a public hearing. No one from the public appeared to comment.

The adopted 2003 budget totals about $3.7 million and includes an increase of an estimated $99,000 over 2002 to allow for raises and insurance. Totals reflect a projected 3-percent increase in sales tax revenue and receipts from a mill levy of 1.68.

Town Administrator Jay Harrington said because the town was conservative with a 1-percent sales tax increase projection in 2002 - a projection that turned out to be pretty close - it remains in a good position financially. However, just in case the 2003 projections don't hold up, some flexibility has been built into the budget.

The trustees have approved funding for two new positions - a building maintenance person and an administrative assistant for the police department. The administrative assistant position was budgeted to start in June, just in case, Harrington said. If sales tax projections don't hold, that position can be put off another year.

Across the different departments, the budget remains steady compared to last year except for a slight increase in operational costs. The budget allows for a 4-percent raise for all employees earning over $30,000. For those below $30,000, the budget allows for an 8-percent raise. The increase for midlevel employees was included in an effort to improve retention, Harrington said. All raises are dependent on satisfactory completion of a performance evaluation by supervisors and not a guarantee.

The 2003 capital improvements fund totals about $1.3 million. It includes, among other things, almost $200,000 for street paving, payments on the Community Center loan of about $235,000, Community Center operations of over $80,000, a total of $65,000 in Riverwalk matching funds for planning purposes and almost $570,000 for sidewalk, curb and gutter on Hot Springs Boulevard. The town has received a $205,000 in air quality matching funds for its paving projects and several other grants for smaller items.

All together, the Pagosa Springs Community Center, completed in 2002, will receive about $120,000 in operating subsidies from the town this year. Harrington said encouraged the board to continue its support of the community center until its own fee structure had a chance to catch up.

After adjourning their regular meeting, the trustees opened a meeting of the Pagosa Springs Sanitation General Improvement District board, held a public hearing and then approved a $1.3 million budget for 2003.

The district's mill levy is 3.4, the same as it's been since 2001. However, assessed valuation of the district dropped when boundaries were shuffled with the formation of the general improvement district in April. In 2002, the town collected $73,375 in property tax for the sanitation district. In 2003, that number will drop to $70,512.

Town Administrator Jay Harrington said when the general improvement district was formed, boundaries were adjusted slightly to exclude some properties that had been part of the original district, but where sewer lines never reached and most likely would never reach. That resulted in the slightly lower assessed valuation.

The sanitation general improvement district, as it is now, also receives revenue from monthly collections and plant investment fees. Reserves sit at about $400,000. A total of $650,000, including a chunk of grant funds, has been budgeted for the U.S. 160 east sewer line project. That approximately three-mile project was bid earlier in 2002, but when bids came in much higher than engineer's estimates, the town decided to make a few adjustments and rebid the project.

Harrington said advertisements soliciting a second round of bids on the sewer extension project will begin Dec. 12. Bids will be opened during the second week of January.


Home rule question seems headed for April ballot

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Home rule is back on the town's burner.

The home rule question, regarding a possible change in the organization of Pagosa Springs government, will most likely be on an election ballot April 8. The Pagosa Springs Board of Trustees initiated the process Tuesday by approving ordinance No. 607. They will actually vote on the resolution calling the election at their end-of-the-year meeting Dec. 30.

Home rule is an alternative form of local government organization available under the Colorado state constitution. A total of 84 communities in the state, including Durango and Rico, use this option which allows members of a community to write their own charter outlining government organization instead of being stuck in the one-size-fits-all organization of statutory communities.

Currently, Pagosa Springs is a statutory town. That means that all of its government organization, including numbers of trustees, term lengths for elected officials and term limits, is dictated by state law. These laws are the same for every statutory town no matter how big or small.

As part of the process leading to home rule, the residents of the municipality elect a commission. The commission then writes a charter outlining how their local government will be organized and then the charter goes before the residents for a vote. If the charter passes, the community becomes home rule. If the charter fails at a vote, the community remains a statutory entity.

Of course, even home rule municipalities must follow all state laws that deal with issues of state importance. It is only the local issues that become more flexible.

The process of becoming a home rule municipality is fairly involved, and the board's approval of the ordinance initiating the process is only one of the first small steps. In April, voters in Pagosa Springs will face two basic questions. The first one is: "Shall the Town of Pagosa Springs form a home rule charter commission?" The next one allows voters to choose members of that commission. A total of nine commission members will be selected in Pagosa Springs if voters choose to go ahead with the process. Those names will be on the ballot.

If voters give the thumbs-up to this first part of the process, the members of the charter commission have 120 days to submit the proposed charter - the rules for local government organization - to the town board. The proposed charter then passes to voters for approval or rejection. Only if the charter is approved will the town become home rule.

The trustees first voted to have the home rule question on the ballot in November 2002, but were forced to remove it because of conflicts between certain statutory requirements and ballot printing dates.


County officials out of town as budget deadline looms

By John M. Motter

Staff Writer

Archuleta County elected officials and the county administrator are spending most of this week in Colorado Springs at the 95th annual Colorado Counties Incorporated Winter Conference.

Facing the commissioners when they return is a decision on the budget for 2003. A public hearing on the county budget is scheduled Tuesday at the regular weekly commissioner meeting.

Largest of the many funds included in the county budget is the general fund. This year's general fund started in its first preliminary form Oct. 4 with a beginning fund balance of $1.8 million, anticipated revenues of $6 million, expenditures of $7.2 million and an ending fund balance of $557,000. Since the commissioners have met many times since Oct. 4, those numbers are likely to have changed significantly. State law requires a balanced budget.

The general fund identifies 33 subcategories including the departments of other elected county officials.

Largest of the expenditures noted in the general fund is a $980,601 transfer to other funds category. This category is up from $617,930 budgeted last year. Of this amount, $777,787 is being transferred to the capital improvement fund. Within the capital improvement fund transfer is a $437,369 county match for Federal Aviation Agency grants to Stevens Field. The next largest item in the capital improvement fund transfer is $166,000 for debt service on taxiway work completed at Stevens Field last year. Also transferred to the capital improvements fund is about $76,000 for various improvements on the county extension building. Other items in the transfer to other funds category are $93,266 to the airport fund, $83,892 to the senior fund and $16,615 to the fair board fund.

The next largest expenditure in the Oct. 4 proposal was for the county sheriff's budget. That budget contained three major categories identified as administration - $224,684, public safety - $432,525, and emergency operations - $297,944. The three categories total $955,153. Last year, the three categories totaled $619,846.

Also administered by the county sheriff are the jail and dispatch budgets. The preliminary jail budget amounts to $806,474, up from $654,365 budgeted the previous year. The preliminary dispatch budget is $305,323, up from the $260,968 budgeted in 2002.

Next largest of the categories contained in the general fund budget is the budget for the county assessor. The proposed assessor budget amounts to $770,086, up from $401,643 budgeted for 2002.

County administration, also contained in the general fund, has a proposed beginning budget of $418,885.

The county clerk and recorder began the budget session asking for $309,234, up from the $293,065 budgeted for 2002. Since the clerk and recorder is also the elections official, $72,495 was requested for clerk and elections. That number was $59,750 for 2002.

Requested by the county treasurer for 2003 is $278,980, up from $234,044 in 2002.

The budget initially proposed for the planning department increased from the $221,464 budgeted in 2002 to the $328,921 requested for 2003. If the initial request is approved, the building inspection department budget will grow from the $147,312 budgeted in 2002, to $187,368 in 2003.

A large increase in terms of percentages could occur in a category labeled information technology services. That category had a budget of $46,720. The proposed budget for 2003 would triple that amount to $159,180.

The general fund anticipates revenues of $5.9 million. Property taxes provide the largest single revenue source, an amount estimated at $2.9 million for 2003. The next largest single source of revenue is sales taxes. Sales tax revenue for 2003 is estimated at $1.2 million. Other projected income sources are: charges for services - $750,200, intergovernmental - $519,000, miscellaneous - $300,589, and licenses and permits - $204,000.

A number of smaller revenue and expense categories are also contained in the general fund budget.

The road and bridge fund summary shows a beginning fund balance of $992,698, revenues and transfers in of $2,317,442, expenditures of $2,213,039, and an ending fund balance of $1,097,101.




Dear Editor:

Your Nov. 21 issue announced that the county commissioners had cut performance bonds from the county subdivision code. Commissioner Downey's comment about the county losing its suspenders but still having a belt may have been over optimistic.

When you review what the state statute (CRS 30-28-137) provides by way of assurance that public improvements will be completed it seems more that the county has lost not only suspenders but also belt and top trouser button.

It is difficult to understand why the statutory requirements were such a burden to the developers. The commissioners had total discretion to accept security that they alone approved. Section (1) (a) of the statue requires:

"A subdivision improvements agreement agreeing to construct any required public improvements shown on the final plat documents, together with collateral which is sufficient, in the judgment of said board (commissioners), to make reasonable provision for the completion of said improvements in accordance with design and time specifications, or

(1) (b) "Other agreements or contracts setting forth the plan, method, and parties responsible for the construction of any required public improvements shown in the final plat documents which, in the judgment of said board, will make reasonable provision for completion of said improvements in accordance with design and time specifications."

The statute also allows the release of all or part of the "security" at any time a portion of the work completed can pass inspection.

It should not be forgotten that if the county had not had a series of "improvement agreements" with Fairfield, there would not have been a basis for claims in the bankruptcy court which ultimately provided six and one half million dollars for road improvements in Pagosa Lakes.

The real losers in giving up "improvement agreements" with some form of security are the property purchasers in the subdivision who have a right under Section (4) of the statute to go into court for injunctive relief to get completion of improvements and damages for any harm done.

Another consideration is the standards and specifications to which roads are supposed to be built. Property owners in Archuleta County should be aware that in a lawsuit related to the construction of roads in Pagosa Lakes the commissioners advised the court that since the "Settlement Agreement" with Fairfield did not mention specific specifications for the road improvements the county constructed, that the county had no obligation to build the roads to any standard.

What kind of precedent does this set for developers who no longer have any reason to not just walk away if times get tough.

The final question is just who do the commissioners represent?

Glenn Bergmann

Mediocre standards

Dear Editor:

Is it all right to devalue Archuleta County even more by lowering the mediocre development standards even further to fatten those who like it here only if they can make lots of money tearing it up and leave the non fly-by-nighters stuck paying for the damages (again/still)?

Should heavy-duty spite be inflicted on the future? We have not recovered from the past, and won't.

Here's something else that we might notice: Only 34 percent of Archuleta County is private land so it should be all the more respected and valuable instead of being made to look like a desert wasteland, such as Farmington.

Just so you would know.

John Feazel

Who benefits?

Dear Editor:

A recent letter asked "Who benefits from the airport?" The short answer is: Everyone in the county.

Seventy-five percent of landings and takeoffs at the airport are by airplanes not based here. The majority bring in tourists who do what tourists everywhere do. They rent cars, they ski, they hike, they play golf, they hunt, they fish, they shop. They rent condos, houses and motel rooms. They patronize restaurants, bars, gas stations and stores. Some purchase real estate. Then they buy fuel for their planes and fly home.

These visits represent many millions of dollars in revenue to county businesses. County and town governments collect their share through sales taxes - typically more than $200,000 annually.

The FAA has agreed to invest approximately $16 million in our airport to widen, strengthen and repave the runway. Principal ways the money will be spent are land acquisition, materials and labor. Payments for land are made to local owners who will spend or reinvest funds here. Materials (base rock, gravel, clay, sand, dirt and asphalt) will be purchased from suppliers close to the project to minimize trucking costs. Some of the labor required will be local. So, the $16 million in government spending will be a large and welcome economic infusion to our county.

The county has to come up with 5 percent of the cost in matching funds. However, there are ways to reduce the cash required. For example, the FAA recognizes "in kind" pledges of existing airport assets as part of the match. The county is working on this so the cash cost to the county should be much less than $800,000 and will be spread out over several years. By any analysis, the return on this investment will be substantial, ongoing and concentrated here.

Airplanes based here represent the other 25 percent of landings and takeoffs. These operations are not "free" to these owners. Every hangar owner must lease the land under the hangar from the county, at lease rates up to $2,000 per year per hangar. The hangar is then taxed by the county, again at rates up to $2,000 annually. Fuel purchases are subject to a 5-cent per gallon county tax. Adding the costs paid to the county and dividing by the average number of landings and takeoffs, the county gets, on the average, about $20 for every takeoff and $20 for every landing.

Further, local planes provide a base of business for the FBO, purchasing fuel, maintenance services and, in some cases, aircraft storage, helping the FBO stay open to serve the transient aircraft. Without the FBO, Pagosa Springs would be a much less attractive flying destination, with the resulting drop in revenues to our county.

Asking "Who benefits from the airport?" is exactly the same as asking, "Who benefits from U.S. 160?" They are both components of the total transportation system of the county, they both bring in business, particularly tourism, and the answer to both questions is the same: Everyone in the county.

Bob Howard

More sense

Dear Editor:

Can anyone please explain to me why we can no longer make a left-hand turn from Talisman onto U.S. 160 by McDonald's?

There is a center turning lane on U.S. 160 to facilitate cars to converge into the flow of traffic. Prior to the time they put in the huge curb to make right-hand turns only at the same intersection, we managed just fine in making left turns at that intersection.

Now we are inconvenienced to go down to Village Drive and navigate through all the chuck holes to Pinon Causeway to the signal. Could it be that Fairfield had anything to do with the signal being placed at that corner where their Fairshare check-in building is?

It would make so much more sense for that signal to have been placed on Talisman where the most businesses are, such as Citizens Bank, McDonald's, Ramon's, City Market and all the others.

It isn't too late to change it as far as I'm concerned, just remove that huge right-hand-turn-only curb thing and change the marking and it would be back like it was. What do all the others of you out there think who live east of there?

Waiting to hear,

Elaine Hyde

Special place

Dear Editor:

I knew when I came here almost three years ago that Pagosa Springs was a special place - not only because of the awesome beauty of the mountains, but also because of the kind hearts of the people who live here. This has become more apparent to me as the holiday season nears.

I am blessed to be a senior citizen taking advantage of all that our Senior Center has to offer. If you haven't been there, you are missing a wonderful part of Pagosa Springs.

A local business sweetens our days with donuts and thanks to Mountain Express and Christine Hanson (our caring driver) our senior bus service takes us to pay bills, to banks, grocery stores, shopping, fun and companionship.

There are many seniors living here without family, so holidays can be sad at times. This year many caring people have shown us that we have "family" here, by sharing their food, their time, and their love with us.

Thank you, to everyone at Operation Helping Hand for the food and the turkeys, To Pastor Dan Sanders at First Baptist Church, who along with all his volunteers, gave many of us not only a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, but true Christian fellowship.

What great food and blessings we have all shared!

I am sincerely grateful,

Donna Modarelli

Another hybrid

Dear Editor:

Though I am delighted to have another hybrid electric car in Pagosa, Sandie Hansen's Toyota Prius is not the first hybrid in our county. I registered my Honda Insight in Archuleta in 2000 and have been happily driving it ever since.

It averages 63 miles per gallon and on a long trip, when I was watching the dials, I got it as high as 72 mpg. A two-seater, it's peppy and fun to drive as well as being a patriotic and environmental way to get around.

Some readers may enjoy doing a Web search under "What Would Jesus Drive?" to pull up interesting articles about ministers who are asking a new question.

Sharon Porter

Community News

Senior News

Special dinners give members holiday delight

By Laura Bedard

SUN Columnist

It was a short week at the Senior Center since all county facilities were closed Thursday and Friday for the holidays.

We were saddened to hear of the death of Robert Kamrath. Doris and Bob were always willing to laugh and joke with us, and they would occasionally join in a quartet and sing us songs. He will be missed by many.

Mary Archuleta brought her daughter, LaLa Dunlap to lunch on Monday. We also got to see Betty and Bill Gibbons, Charlie Martinez and Burley White this week at lunch.

We had turkey and all the fixings for our Thanksgiving meal Wednesday, thanks to our wonderful kitchen staff, and Chuck and Cathy Guisinger came to join us. Mercy brought her husband, Bill, and we were very happy to see Bruce Muirhead and his wife, Mary.

On Tuesday, a big group of our seniors ate a free Thanksgiving dinner at Francisco's in Durango. This is a wonderful annual tradition that everyone looks forward to, and our thanks goes to Francisco's for their generosity.

We decorated our Christmas tree Dec. 3 and it is just beautiful. Feel free to stop in and add a decoration of your own. Our thanks to Dennis Schutz for donating the tree.

Silver Foxes Den will be initiating a walking program in January. We want to get people excited about walking and get the habit for life. Check out the senior newsletter next month and get more details.

There is a lot happening Friday the 13th. Our Area Agency on Aging elections and senior board elections will take place at noon, and we also have the senior board meeting at 12:45. The Mountain Harmony Barbershop Chorus will entertain at 12:30 and if that isn't enough excitement, the movie day feature at 1 p.m. will be "Ya Ya Sisterhood." This movie is free in the senior lounge.

Our weekly events include:

Monday - 10 a.m. chair exercise with Dru Sewell; 1 p.m. bridge for fun

Tuesday - 9:30 a.m. yoga; 12:45 p.m. art class

Wednesday - 10:30 a.m. computer class

Friday - 10 a.m. Qi Gong; 11 a.m. Jim Hanson-Medicare counseling.

Veterans Corner

Durango clinic doctor a traffic victim

By Andy Fautheree

As many of you may be aware of by now, Dr. John Starns, the primary care provider at the VA Outpatient Clinic in Durango, was killed in an automobile accident early last Saturday.

As of Monday I did not have any further information on the effect this will have on VA Health Care at the clinic. Unofficial word from some VA associates I am in contact with said Health Net Services, the contractor providing the health services at the Durango Clinic, would be working with VA medical services to provide a physician to replace Dr. Starns.

When this will take place or how long it will take is uncertain. Dr. Starns was one of two doctors at the clinic. It is my understanding the other physician, Dr. Chester Wigton, sees a limited number of patients and Dr. Starns provided medical services to most of the VA patients.

Affects veterans

Obviously this will affect many VA patients with current appointment schedules at the clinic. I would suggest you call the clinic at 247-2214 before traveling to Durango to keep any existing appointments. It is hoped this setback will not be too long in duration and that VA medical services can continue at the clinic quickly.

If you are enrolled in VA Health Care at the Farmington VA Clinic I suggest you might want to continue your health care services at that facility for the time being. Many veterans from this area of southwest Colorado have been in the process of transferring from Farmington to Durango. If you have not been seen yet at the Durango Clinic, you are still assigned to Farmington. However, if you have been seen at Durango, you have been dropped from the Farmington Clinic.

If you are unsure of your status or which clinic you are currently assigned to you may want to call either or both the Durango Clinic (at the above number) and the Farmington VA Clinic at (505) 326-4384. Or you may also call the Albuquerque VA Medical Center at (800) 465-8262 Ext. 2844 (clinic operations) to find out your current status for VA Primary Health Care.

Transfer status

The Farmington VA Clinic has been closed to new VA patient enrollment since this time last year. A veteran who has transferred to Durango from Farmington would need to reapply to the Farmington Clinic as a new patient. Farmington advised me recently they are only admitting new patients under the new VA guidelines of 50 percent or more service-connected disabilities receiving first priority to VA Health Care. They said that, as of a week or two ago, only about 50 patients had actually completed the transfer to Durango.

Remember, the key is if you have actually seen the doctors at Durango for health care. If you have only asked to transfer but not actually received medical care at that facility you are still assigned to your previous VA medical clinic.

Chama Clinic update

In another update on VA Health Care, the Health Centers of Northern New Mexico is currently in contract negotiations to continue providing VA Health Care at its clinics, which includes the Chama Community Clinic. I have enrolled about 80 veterans to date at the Chama clinic during the past year when the Farmington clinic was closed to new patients and Durango clinic had not opened yet.

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

Season comes to life Saturday at Chamber

By Sally Hameister

This is the Saturday to head on down to the Visitor Center beginning at 3 p.m. to visit with Santa, have a photo made by Pagosa Photography, drink hot spiced cider, eat delicious cookies whipped up by our very own Cookie Queen, Sally Theesfeld (Hovatter), listen to caroling by the amazing Mountain Harmony Ladies Chorus and witness the breathtaking lighting of the Visitor Center. Santa will have candy canes for all the good little boys and girls and will listen to all the wishes from 3-5:30 p.m. when he will orchestrate the lighting ceremony. Nothing but nothing begins the season quite like Christmas in Pagosa, and we sincerely hope that you will join us for all the fun.

Kiwanis chili supper

Immediately following the Christmas in Pagosa event, you can head on over to the Parish Hall to enjoy the always-delicious Kiwanis chili supper. They will be serving their traditional chili plate plus drink and ice cream for $5 (advance) and $6 at the door. Children will be offered a hot dog with drink and ice cream for $3.50. Advance tickets will be available at the Chamber and at Texaco West at the corner of North Pagosa Boulevard and U.S. 160.

To accommodate everyone, tickets will be available for two seating times - 4:30 to 6 p.m. and 6-7. Free face painting will be available for the little ones, and each child will receive Christmas bells to join in on the stage with a rousing rendition of "Jingle Bells."

Please plan to support and attend the chili supper that allows Kiwanis to sponsor high school graduates who desire further education or skills training through either junior college degree programs or at a vo-tech center.

Parade of Lights

Our fourth annual Parade of Lights is coming up Dec. 13, and you have a chance to win 100 big ones in three categories, which might come in mighty handy with the seemingly endless economic demands of the season. We'll be awarding $100 to the best and brightest entries by business, organization and family.

This one is so easy to enter — just fill out an entry form (included in your current Chamber Communiqué or available at the Visitor Center) and bring it in with your check for $25. After that, get your gang together and put lights all over something or other - people have lighted up horses, trucks, buggies, cars and children with great success - and show up on 6th Street at 5:30 p.m. on the 13th.

This is just about the cutest doggoned parade in the world, and you need to be a part of it. KWUF radio is once again providing the holiday music for the occasion, so all you have to do is bring your own boom box to tune in during the parade. Please fill out your entry form and bring it to the Chamber of Commerce no later than 5 p.m. Dec. 12.

We are particularly fond of this event and want to continue for many years to come. This is a "weather permitting" event, by the way, so if it looks iffy that day, just give us a call at 264-2360 for information.

Holiday open house

This Sunday, folks at Navajo State Park invite you to join them for a Holiday Open House, 9 am. -5 p.m. There will be all kinds of fun things going on to include hot cider, coffee and cookies, activities for the kids, 15-percent discount on books, puppets and gift items, gift certificates and a drawing for the free 2003 annual pass to the park.

A winter nature walk will take place at noon, and you can bet it will be spectacular. If you haven't seen the beautiful new Visitor Center, this is the perfect opportunity to do so and have a great time to boot. Call 883-2208 for more information on the Navajo State Park Holiday open house.

Happy anniversary

It is always a pleasure to congratulate a member business on their anniversary, and in this case, Victoria's Reign is celebrating seven years in Pagosa Springs. I needn't belabor the fact that not every business can boast that kind of success, and we couldn't be happier for Pat and Gordon Kahn. They are hard working, excellent business people who clearly know their stuff and the secret to longevity in Pagosa.

They are sharing their success with you Saturday and Sunday at Victoria's Reign by offering a 20-percent discount on exclusive sale merchandise. While you are browsing, you can enjoy refreshments from 9-5 Saturday and 9-2 Sunday. Please take this opportunity to congratulate these nice folks on their anniversary.

Bigger and better

Jerry and Rosie Zepnick, owners of Lantern Dancer Gift Shop, are happy to announce a recent expansion of their store just in time for holiday shopping. They already had the largest selection of jewelry in the Four Corners area, but Jerry just wasn't satisfied with that. Please stop by to see the expanded store with lots more room to house their jewelry, Indian artifacts and inlaid gemstone globes. Check out the new space or call 264-6446 for more information.

Santa at Pagosa Kid

You will have yet another opportunity to visit with Santa at The Pagosa Kid Dec. 14 from 1-4 p.m. The jolly old elf will be there along with live Christmas music, refreshments and drawings for prizes. Angela and her staff will be happy to wrap your gifts and even ship them for you to save you some precious holiday time. Give Angela a call at 264-9330 for more information about Santa at The Pagosa Kid.


You have one more day to order your wreaths or centerpieces from the Community United Methodist Church Russ Hill Memorial Bazaar, so you'd best scurry on over before tomorrow at 5 p.m.

The CUMC elves have worked feverishly for a couple of weeks now, but I'm guessing they have another productive day in them to take care of your needs. You can see their beautiful work all over town, so don't miss out on your beautiful greens this year.

"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 Dec. 8, for a special matinee at 1:30, all in the high school auditorium. Tickets go on sale today 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 music, 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 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.


How nice that even during the hustle and bustle of the busy season, we are fortunate enough to welcome three new members and a renewal. Morna informs me we now have 803 members, and I find that nothing short of stunningly fabulous.

When I began here at the Chamber around seven years ago, I wouldn't have dreamed of ever having that many members in our (now not-so) little organization. We are sincerely indebted to each and every one of you and can't thank you enough for your confidence and support. We will continue to work as hard as we know how to maintain the level of professionalism and success we now enjoy.

We are happy to welcome Carl Brown, owner and photographer, who brings us Southern Exposure, Inc. located at the Wolf Creek Ski Area. This is a brand new deal for Wolf Creek this year and a welcome addition indeed. These folks snap ski portraits at Wolf Creek every day as well as ski action photos. You can subsequently check out your photos at the ski area or at We are delighted to welcome Southern Exposure, Inc. and invite you to call them at (505) 754-6495 or toll-free at (800) 754-9520.

We next welcome Kathy Overcast who brings us Sunny Mountain Kennels with offices located in her home. Kathy offers The Mobile Sitters who will go to your home two or three times a day to check, feed and love your special four-legged friend. Kathy contends that "there's no place like home" to your pet, and we all know for a fact that's where they are happiest. She also does gourmet treats, gift baskets and gift boxes for all your furry friends, canine or feline, so something special will be under the tree for them. Give Kathy a call at 731-2098 or 946-2608 to learn more about Sunny Mountain Kennels.

Our third new member this week is Marianne Calvanese with the Open Heart Healing Center located at 422 Pagosa St. This is a nonprofit, all-denominational prayer and meditation-directed co-creative community of progressive, healing and living arts practitioners. Please call Marianne at 731-3070 to learn more about the Open Heart Healing Center.

Our renewal this week is the nice gentleman, Keith Cope, who owns and operates Royal Gem and Jewelry located right on Pagosa Street in the downtown area.

Library News

Special preschool storytime Dec. 17

By Lenore Bright

Barb Draper is going to do a special holiday preschool story time at the library Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. All preschool age children and their parents are invited for stories and celebration.

Come hear about the holidays from the animals' point of view, and for more fun and surprises.


Another holiday treat is the collection of Carolyn McCullough's wonderful artwork and woodland creations.

It is always a joy to see her work.

Building for the future

We've talked before about the fact that we have run out of room in the library. The population growth and the subsequent need for more materials has created the problem.

We are in the process of applying for grants to help with this project as we plan to do this without raising any extra tax money. We did it before and I am confident we can do it again.

We are creating the various committees that will help with this project, and invite you to join us. For more information, call me at 264-2009.

New books

Joan Rohwer brought us several books.

"Summer of the Bears," by Jack Becklund is a timely book for our area. What would you do if a black bear approached you right on your own front porch? (That happens a lot around here).

The Becklunds packed up their Florida home for life in the woods in Minnesota. They soon made the unexpected acquaintance of an orphaned yearling black bear cub. Over the next six summers they spent hours observing and learning from the bear and the other nine bears she introduced to them. A great story for bear lovers.

"Bead Art," edited by Alice Korach, celebrates 81 works by 54 artists selected for the first biennial Beadworks exhibition. The technical accomplishments are astonishing. Works are constructed from thousands of seed beads, wound from molten glass rods, stitched and crocheted with wire. There are bead-woven images and freestanding sculptures. Many people in Pagosa are creating with beads. We need to do a display of some of these local creations. Let us know if you would display your bead work.

"The Dorling Kindersley Geography of the World," is an essential guide to countries and continents in today's rapidly changing world. There are more than 69 large-scale, three-dimensional maps, 900 full-color photographs, and 500 detailed artworks, charts and diagrams. It is a wonderful visual work for anyone interested in geography - useful for school projects but equally interesting for adults.

"Leading the West: One Hundred Contemporary Painters and Sculptors," by Donald Hagerty in cooperation with Southwest Art brings together today's foremost artists of the west in one stunning volume. Hagerty recently retired from the University of California at Davis. He is a consultant on the art and culture of the American West.


Thanks for materials from Alice Chavez, Carol Hakala, Bev Pruitt, Margaret Rouke, Anna O'Reilly, Betty Touloumis, Mack Thompson and Mark Brown.



Brielle and Scott Rubenstein would like to announce the birth of their son, Holden Drake. Holden was born at Mercy Medical Center Oct. 26, 2002, at 9:21 p.m. He weighed 7 pounds, 7.8 ounces and was 19 1/4 inches long. Holden is welcomed home by his maternal grandparents Patricia and David Hauschild of Arboles, aunt and uncle Brooke and Steve Quintana of Farmington, N.M., and paternal grandmother Kathleen Rubenstein of Daytona Beach, Fla.

River Rose Pitcher was welcomed into the world by her parents, Jenifer and Chris Pitcher and her big sister, Miah Nieva Pitcher. She was born in Ft. Collins, Colo. Nov. 14, 2002, weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces and measuring 20 1/2 inches. Many grandparents welcome her as well: Todd and Jann Pitcher, Jim and Jacki Goodenberger, and Junior and Kate Lister. Great grandparents celebrating are Kingsbury and Jane Pitcher, JoAnne Anderson, Rena Goodenberger, Jack and Kristine Gilleland, Shirley Kramer and Joe and Delfi Rose Lister, along with many proud aunts and uncles.

Adam Arthur House celebrated his first Thanksgiving last week after making his appearance Oct. 5, 2002, in Durango. The son of Mike and Shanda House of Pagosa Springs was also welcomed home by a brother, Junior. He weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces at birth and was 21 inches long. Grandparents are Dorothy and Arthur Valdez and A.C. and Georgia Lou House. The great grandfather is Mave Valdez.




Abraham and Kimberly Laydon announce their marriage June 1, 2002, at the Cherry Hills Community Center in Denver. Celebrating with them were their grandparents, Steve and Delores Butler of Pagosa Springs, and parents Paul and Marjorie Lewan and John and Lauren Laydon. The couple are both graduates of Colorado State University. Kimberly is presently on staff with Campus Crusades for Christ at University of Colorado where Abraham is enrolled in law school.




A child's team

Group works to improve quality of childcare in country

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

A little over three years ago, licensed childcare providers in Archuleta County decided to make a change.

To have a chance at receiving state grants to help them all, they would have to stop competing and cooperate to reach some common goals - more educational opportunities and increased community awareness.

As an answer, they formed the nonprofit Archuleta Children's Team Council.

"It started as a stakeholders' meeting, a group of everybody in the early childhood field coming together to write a grant," current co-chairperson Amy Hill said. "Now our goal is just to expand the quality of care offered within the centers."

Expanding the quality of care covers a wide range of areas, including education, mentoring, parenting classes, assistance for new providers, community awareness and networking. Today, council members represent licensed home daycare owners, larger childcare centers, childcare employees the Department of Social Services and parents.

To be a member, Hill said, a person must be licensed. It's something the group stresses because of the quality control assurance it provides.

"Licensed providers are monitored by the state," she said. "You as a parent need to know that there are standards that they have to meet. It makes a difference for the child in all areas."

For instance, Hill's co-chairperson, Lynne Bridges, said a licensed provider must keep CPR and first aid training current. Every three years, they are also required to take courses in universal precautions (learning how to deal with blood and other secretions safely) and medication administration. In addition, providers must take nine hours of continuing education annually. And that doesn't include steps licensed providers must take to make homes safe. Fences. Gates. Fire exits. Locks on cupboard doors. Plugs in outlets. A whole book of rules to cover.

The state also puts restrictions on the number of children one person can watch and requires those with licenses to undergo a background and fingerprint check. All these rules, Hill and Bridges said, make the environment safer and more secure for the child.

Getting the word out about licensing means raising community awareness, providing mentoring for those providers wishing to become licensed and increasing educational opportunities locally - all part of the ACT Council, Hill and Bridges said.

"Twenty years ago, even five years ago, I would have had to go to Denver or Grand Junction to get quality training," said Bridges, who owned her own home childcare center for 20 years. "ACT has allowed us to bring professionals here."

Working together, the council has been able to come up with the funds to provide the required nine hours of continuing education locally, reducing the burden of travel on providers and, thereby, Hill, a current provider, believes, increasing the quality of care.

"We want to go above and beyond the minimum," she said. "We've really raised the bar here and we want to keep raising the bar."

That means raising the bar for parents as well.

In January, the group is planning to offer a parenting workshop on brain development, Hill said. The effort is part of their ongoing community awareness work, which includes the annual Week of the Young Child.

Pagosa Springs, they said, still falls extremely short when it comes to filling the entire childcare need in the community.

"We have four childcare centers that provide preschool services," Hill said. "Of those, one provides toddler care and none provide infant care." Licensed childcare homes are allowed two infants (children under 18 months) each under the state regulations. That means, Hill said, "20 infants can be watched in Archuleta County." The need, obviously, is much larger.

Of course, it all takes money.

In February, another grant application to the state is due. Each year, the amount the council receives varies and each year is it directed a different way, according to the needs. For instance, one year the council provided start-up funds to anyone willing to open a daycare to serve infants. This year they are in the process of putting together a health insurance reimbursement program to help owners of childcare businesses offset the cost of health care for employees and increase employee retention. All grants require at least a 10-percent cash match, Bridges said, and the greater the community participation, the better.

In an effort to reach a greater level of matching funds, the ACT Council is trying a few fundraisers. Earlier this month, they sold "Busy Boxes," portable craft kits for children, at the Civic Club Bazaar.

In December, they plan to offer Parents Day Out - childcare for infants and children up to 13 years old - on a Saturday. Hill said it will give parents an opportunity to finish up Christmas shopping, or just take a day to rest before the holiday crush. Childcare will be available Dec. 14 from 7:30 a.m-6:30 p.m. Children can be dropped off at the Community Bible Church. Snacks will be provided, but parents are asked to send a sack lunch. A donation of $18 per child for the day is requested.

Both Hill and Bridges also encouraged people to get involved. The ACT Council meets the third Monday of every month in the Archuleta Council Social Services conference room, 551 Hot Springs Blvd., at 6 p.m. "Anybody is welcome to join a meeting," Hill said. Both women encouraged anyone who couldn't make the meeting but needed mentoring to give them a call at 731-5259 (Bridges) or 731-9152 (Hill).


Animal control, now

Problems in a county growing as fast as ours are many. Some are specific to a certain area; others are countywide, like road maintenance. And animal control. Animal control is a problem that must addressed effectively, and promptly.

As the human population of the county has increased, so has the population of pets, in particular dogs. A significant number of pet owners allow their animals to roam free as projections of their own egos, presumably to allow the animals to exist in a natural state, but more likely to avoid the responsibility of controlling their pets.

The reality, of course, is our dogs do not live in a state of nature; they exist in an environment determined by human activities and concerns. They must be controlled, and it is ultimately unfair to the animals if they are not. Pets allowed to roam free are in danger from automobiles, other animals, angry human beings. Dogs caught harassing wildlife or chasing livestock can be shot by Division of Wildlife officers or by the ranchers who own the livestock. Dogs allowed to roam free are a nuisance to residents. No one can be expected to love and enjoy an animal as much as its owner; it's presence on another's property is a violation of that person's rights.

These facts are obvious, yet some pet owners remain oblivious to the rights of others and the welfare of their own and other animals. An incident this past week, where dogs slaughtered poultry and attacked sheep, serves as an example. As a result of the irresponsible behavior of certain pet owners, institutional animal control is necessary.

Lately, county officials have considered creating a position for an animal control officer and there is an item in the current draft county budget to fund it. We need this service, but it is not enough.

Until recently, the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association provided full-service animal control for its members, covering a 21 square-mile area of densely populated subdivisions - the area in the county where the majority of animal control problems arise.

The county commissioners adopted an animal control ordinance earlier this year and, with the officials indicating they favor creating an animal control position, the directors of the PLPOA decided to hold back, to continue to handle nuisance and barking dog calls, without picking up stray animals.

The talk is that a deal might be worked between county and PLPOA - the county hiring an animal control officer, the PLPOA contributing an animal control vehicle, perhaps some equipment.

As comforting as the cooperation is, it will not produce a satisfactory result.

No single animal control officer can handle the needs in all of unincorporated Archuleta County, any more than one deputy can answer all law enforcement calls in that area.

In fact, a single animal control officer cannot effectively handle calls within the PLPOA boundaries.

A way must be found to handle the problem while it is still manageable. We hope the county creates a new position, hiring and equipping an officer. It will also be helpful if the county institutes mandatory pet licensing, with revenues directed to the support of animal control activity.

At the same time, it will be of great benefit to the members of the PLPOA if the directors understand the futility of depending on county resources to deal with the problem in the subdivisions. Many neighborhoods are plagued with nuisance and roaming animals, with packs of dogs. Animal control is one function the association can provide its membership that serves the overwhelming majority and gives members solid return on their dues.

If pet owners cannot be responsible, organizations must step in and deal with the situation. It should be done now.

Karl Isberg

Dear Folks


All grandchildren are grand

(This Dear Folks was first printed Nov. 30, 2000)

If last Thursday was Thanksgiving, then the year's twelfth month starts tomorrow. And I'm already looking forward to March.

Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday and Thanksgiving 2000 has moved to the top of my chart.

The Macey Thanksgiving parade arrived at the Mitchell's a week early this year. Yes, Macey and her little brother Payton totally captured and captivated her Pagosa grandparents. They equally overwhelmed their uncles Chuck and Drew.

Even Maggie our "wonder dog" - I'm still wondering if she's really a dog - behaved remarkably well. It bothered her not to have her tail pulled, her collar laced with ribbons or Payton eating out of her dog-food bowl.

Not to boast, but Payton's somewhat like his grandfather. He loves to sleep. He never gets enough to eat. He'll eat right out of the jar, or off anyone's plate, or off the floor. He thrives on hugs. He has a high forehead and low eyebrows. He has a hard time keeping his pants up around his waist. He likes to start the morning in a rocking chair.

His talking is much like his grandfather's editorials. You know he's trying to say something but it's hard to understand what it is.

Whereas it's natural to take credit for a fun Thanksgiving, it's nature and the weather that deserve our thanks. The hillside across the road provided Macey some fun sledding thanks to the 8 inches of snow that fell Nov. 11. The only problem was that it was too dry and powdery for making a snowman. Thankfully, the 4 inches of snow that was in the front yard Thanksgiving morning was perfect for making a wonderful snowman. And the blue jays, finches and squirrels that clustered around and took turns at the feeders made for some fascinating viewing.

It was great experiencing Thanksgiving through the eyes and emotions of our youngest grandchildren.

I know they are no grander than every else's grandchildren. Nor is our daughter-in-law Jennifer any more amazing than everyone else's daughter-in-law. Knowing that other folks' second generation is equally grand keeps it all in perspective.

As with all good things, the Payton and Macey parade has come to an end. It ended Saturday morning with a trip to the Durango airport. Even this offered highlights.

Accompanied by a well-worn tape that's almost 20 years old, Dan and I once again sang our "Bullfrogs and Butterflies" duet as we drove up Yellow Jacket. The tape went home with Macey and the song's now at the top of Macey's music chart.

Good times followed by goodbyes are no fun. But a lazy drive home through Ignacio, Allison and Arboles, plus spotting a flock of turkeys alongside the highway softened the sadness.

By the time Drew called Saturday afternoon to tell of Chuck's dislocated elbow, I knew Saturday would definitely be one to remember. There's no such thing as a good injury but fortunately this one wasn't too bad. The round trip to Mercy Medical provided another opportunity to be a dad.

Most of the pain was gone by Sunday morning except for my pain of knowing that after lunch Chuck needed to head home to Española.

So I'm already looking forward to March and our visit with the Alta Loma Mitchells. I'll experience my Thanksgiving emotions when Tom brings Sheila, Trey and Taige home to visit during their spring break. I'm already thinking about how exceptional they are and how grandparents live off memories.

One of the special benefits of living in Pagosa is that family and friends alike look forward to visiting just about any time of the year.

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 Dec. 6, 1912

The San Juan National Forest has been allotted $3,700 to be used on the road from Pagosa Springs east crossing the mountains. Supervisor Bard will co-operate with the county commissioners in the work in Archuleta County, it being understood that whenever either the forest service or the county has any money to spend on that particular road the work will be pushed toward the east without break - that is, it will be taken up where the last work ceased.

Tom Dyke killed a mountain lion on Devil Mountain and has sent the hide to be made into a rug.

The Odd Fellows of the Pagosa Lodge are making elaborate preparations for their regular anniversary ball on New Year's Eve.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Dec. 9, 1927

Running true to form D.D. Pargin of Pagosa Springs, Colo., sold 19 head of choice quality feeder steers on the Denver market this morning at $12.75, breaking all records for high prices of feeders this year.

Frank Kingsley was the victim of a rare and peculiar accident while riding with his father and a brother in a car to Kearns on business. Frank announced that he was hurt and bleeding in the forehead. His father brought the youth to town, where a 30-30 bullet was extracted by a physician from the wound. It has been practically spent and did not penetrate the frontal bone, or would have proven fatal. They heard no rifle report and are convinced the shot was a stray one and not intended for any of the car occupants.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Dec. 5, 1952

The weather the past week continued to bring more snow and cold, leaving no doubt that winter is really here. The coldest weather of this year was registered on the 27th when the mercury dipped to a frigid 22 below. There were six days in the past eight when it did not get up to the thawing point.

Snowfall is plentiful and better than three feet has fallen here in town since the start of winter. There has been snow practically every day for two weeks and from every indication, this will be a record winter for snowfall.

The San Juan Supply has been purchased by Woodrow Dunlap and Lee Cox. The firm deals in building and ranching supplies, as well as operating a machinery store and truck line.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Dec. 1, 1977

It was announced this week that a new $1.2 million dollar supermarket and shopping center will be constructed early next year. The building will house the Hersch Supermarket, doubling the size of the present building.

Snowmobilers, cross country skiers, and other winter sports enthusiasts are hitting for the high country these days. Snow depths there are enough so that most winter sports can be enjoyed. Big game animals are visible in large numbers in many areas and early shoppers are making the rounds. It is that time of year.

Light snows were in the area last Sunday but generally the weather has been nice and temperatures mild. Holiday traffic was not delayed because of bad weather.

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