Dog victim released; charges pend DA's evaluation
By Tess Noel Baker
The Pagosa Springs boy attacked by at least one dog in the Vista Subdivision Dec. 23 is home recuperating with his family.
Garrett Carothers, 8, was released from Mercy Medical Center Dec. 27. Deanna Hockett, Carothers' aunt and the spokesperson for the family, said the boy and his family are doing, "OK."
Carothers, who, according to Archuleta County Sheriff's Department reports Tuesday, was attacked on a neighbor's porch and dragged 20 or 30 feet into the street, received bites over 80 percent of his body. Medical staff in Durango counted 37 puncture wounds before they simply stopped counting.
Hockett said one ear was torn, as well as the boy's cheek, the back of his neck and lip. Skin grafts were used to replace scalp on the back part of his head. He was also bitten on his arms and legs.
"He has stitches almost everywhere," she said. Most of those came out Monday, however his visits to the doctor are probably not over.
"He may need to have more plastic surgery down the road," said Hockett, "and possibly hair replacement because of the skin grafts on his head." It is still unknown if he will be able to return to school with the rest of his classmates after winter break. That, Hockett said, depends on how the skin grafts are doing.
According to Sheriff's Department reports, Carothers had apparently walked to a nearby home to find a friend to go sledding with him. No one was at home and as the boy was leaving the porch, he was attacked. Two dogs, a pit bull and a Rottweiler-retriever mix were sitting over the boy when he was found by two men who spotted blood on the road. The pit bull was later shot and killed as it tried to attack a deputy who responded to the scene. The retriever-mix was cornered, captured and taken to the Pagosa Springs Humane Society where it remains under quarantine.
Captain Bob Grandchamp said it is unclear whether or not the retriever-mix actually bit the boy. Unlike the pit bull, no blood was apparent on its muzzle or feet when examined. However, interviews with the boy had not been completed as of Tuesday morning. The retriever-mix was seen by the first two witnesses at the scene sitting over the victim with the pit bull.
Grandchamp said an investigation into the incident should be complete by Thursday. Reports will be sent to the district attorney's office in Durango at that time. Any decision on charges will be made after the district attorney is able to examine the reports.
According to the Colorado Revised Statutes 18-9-204.5, "Unlawful ownership of dangerous dogs" section, a dangerous dog means, "any dog that has inflicted bodily or serious bodily injury upon or has caused the death of a person or domestic animal; or has demonstrated tendencies that would cause a reasonable person to believe that the dog may inflict injury upon or cause the death of any person or domestic animal; or has engaged in or been trained for animal fighting as described and prohibited in section 18-9-204." The owner of a dog found guilty of committing serious bodily harm can face a Class 1-misdemeanor conviction. That carries a minimum penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine up to a maximum of 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. This is one statute that might be considered by the district attorney's office. Once again, no charges in the Carothers case have been filed at this time.
At least one warning and one fine for having "dogs at large" had been issued to the property owner prior to the attack. The warning and the citation were issued by the Pagosa Lakes Property Owner's Association in February and May of 2002. The county has no record of a problem with the two dogs.
Hockett said a fund for Garrett has been set up at Vectra Bank. Anyone wishing to donate to the fund should write checks in the name of Deanna Hockett or Garrett Carothers. Carothers does have health insurance.
Skiers flock to slopes for holiday
By John M. Motter
Skier numbers at Wolf Creek Ski Area reached 4,500 Sunday, the highest visitor count for a single day so far this season.
"Visitation has been pretty solid," said Davey Pitcher, general manager at the area. "I think having the holidays fall during midweek has been a big plus. A lot of employers are allowing employees time off through the holidays and until after New Year's Day. That gives them more time to ski."
Attendance hasn't topped any records, but a high visitation level has been spread out over several days, according to Pitcher.
"It's easier for us this way, rather than having one or two big, back-breaking days," Pitcher said.
The numbers support Pitcher's statement. After a week when attendance hovered in the 2,000-per-day range, the number climbed to 3,500 last Friday, 4,100 Saturday and 4,500 Sunday.
Weather has affected the resort in more than one way.
The benefits of having plenty of snow on the ground topped by azure blue skies are obvious. Almost 6 feet of snow is resting at the summit of area slopes, almost 5 feet at midway, enough to thrill the heart of the most avid skier.
Less obvious is the effect created by the failure of an ice storm projected for Central Texas and the Panhandle area this past week.
"If that storm had come with its black ice, our visitation could have dropped significantly," Pitcher said. "Fortunately, the storm was fast moving and there was no ice storm. People got here and enjoyed some nice weather."
The newly paved parking lot just east of the snow shed has been a boon, as far as crowd management goes, according to Pitcher. Skiers who use the remote parking lot are delivered by tram to the ticket booth.
"I think some of those people get inside quicker than if they'd used the parking lot," Pitcher said.
The total lift capacity at Wolf Creek is about 7,000-8,000 skiers per hour, according to Pitcher. During the holiday season, the area stays open from 8:15 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Since most skiers only manage about four hours of skiing, the result is that each day sees two sets of skiers. The early birds arrive, ski their hearts out and return home by noon. A second wave of skiers arrives later. Consequently, the lifts and slopes do double duty each day.
A new shed, called the Thunderdome, for storing and renting snowboards, has been opened this year.
"We rent about 300 boards a day," Pitcher said, "as compared to 1,500 pairs of skis a day."
County hires control officer
as dog calls proliferate
By Tess Noel Baker
On Dec. 23, an 8-year-old Pagosa Springs boy was mauled by dogs that lived across the street from him. Since then, calls to the county concerning dogs have increased tenfold, Archuleta County Sheriff's Captain Bob Grandchamp said.
According to the Archuleta County Sheriff's Department, the Pagosa Lakes Property Owner's Association and the Pagosa Springs Police Department, dangerous dogs aren't a huge problem here. Barking dogs and nuisance dogs are a much bigger issue. Following that, are calls on dogs at large.
Walt Lukasik, general manager of the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association, said he could probably count the number of dangerous dog citations in his area on both hands. A check of the records showed the association handled eight dangerous dog cases in 2002. Of those, six were dismissed and two were upheld. In the two cases upheld, the property owners were fined.
Under the property owners' association rules and regulations, dangerous dogs are defined as dogs at large that have "inflicted bodily or serious bodily injury upon or have caused the death of a person or domestic animal; or have demonstrated tendencies that would cause a reasonable person to believe that the dog may inflict injury upon, or cause the death of any person or domestic animal; or have engaged in or been trained for animal fighting, as defined and prohibited by Colorado law." This is the same definition found in the Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 18-9-204.5.
The association also has a definition of a "threatening dog." The definition is, "a dog that approaches a person or domestic animal, without provocation or contact, in a threatening, dominant or terrorizing manner in an apparent attitude of attack that is at-large and demonstrates the following behaviors which could include, but are not limited to: growling and barking in a threatening manner, baring of teeth, lunging and/or charging, circling or raising hackles."
The penalties for harboring either a threatening or dangerous dog under the PLPOA rules and regulations are fines. And only fines.
In all cases, Lukasik said, property owners receiving a notice of violation have the right to appear before a panel and have their case heard.
Until October, 2002, the Pagosa Lakes Property Owner's Association employed an animal control officer to patrol their area and issue citations based on the above regulations as well as regulations on barking, nuisance dogs and dogs at large. When the last officer left, Lukasik said, they learned that the county had begun it's own search for an animal control officer.
"Some have asked, is it redundant for us to have one too?" Lukasik said. "We haven't yet reached a decision."
Over at the courthouse, some decisions have been made. Grandchamp said a county animal control officer was hired Monday. Floyd Capistrant, who has been a dispatcher for five years and is also a reserve deputy, accepted the position. He will participate in a training course Jan. 13-17 and take on his new duties after that.
The county updated its dog control ordinances in April and allocated funds for an animal control officer in the budget passed last month.
In the county, added Grandchamp, deputies have dealt far more frequently with dogs at large than with dangerous dogs. In the last case where a citation for dangerous dogs was issued, two wolf-hybrids were suspected of killing several chickens and a sheep. Those dogs escaped from their owner and have not been found.
When a person is bitten, Grandchamp said, deputies have the authority to quarantine the dog in case of disease. A rabies quarantine lasts 10 days. After that, the dog can be collected by the owner. An decision as to the fine or other punishment or the fate of the dog must be determined by a judge.
Pagosa Springs Police Chief Don Volger said a check of records showed two dog bites in 2002. Both resulted in minor injuries. In the first case, the dog's owner was issued citations for dog at-large and failure to confine a vicious dog. It is unknown at this time what happened at trial. In the second case, the dog was put on a 10-day hold, and once cleared, released.
Extension building calamity downsized
By John M. Motter
Hantavirus is no longer considered a threat in the Archuleta County Extension Building, despite the discovery of a pile of dead deer mice behind Sheetrock walls.
The dead mice were discovered in early October when the odor from their decaying bodies reached the annoyance level for those working within the office portion of the building.
As a precautionary measure, the county immediately closed the office for public use. In addition, the staff working in the Extension office was moved to new, temporary quarters. Prompting the cautious approach was the perceived possibility that hantavirus, bubonic plague, West Nile Virus, or possibly other forms of pestilence dangerous to human life could have killed the mice.
Bids were sought from companies specializing in pest analysis and cleanup. Two Durango firms submitted bids to the county: Four Corners Hanticlean and Professional Exterminators. The county has not made a decision as to which bid to honor.
"What we have learned is, those dead mice probably do not represent a threat," said Bill Steele, the county administrator. "Those mice apparently entered the space between walls through an opening in the top plate created for electrical wires. They fell down inside and couldn't get out. They starved to death."
The solution will be to remove Sheetrock as necessary to access the areas behind walls where dead mice are found, and to remove the suspended ceiling with its overload of insulation. Once the outer covering is removed, the affected areas will be sterilized. Finally, the Sheetrock will be replaced, insulation sprayed on the undersurface of the metal roofing, and a new ceiling installed.
Steele estimates that sterilization will cost up to $2,400, building repair about $8,000. Work should begin within a few weeks.
"I already have commissioner approval to go ahead," Steele said.
Christmas swelled county
population by nearly 4,000
By John M. Motter
If you're impatiently tapping your toe while waiting in one of the long lines queued up at the local supermarket, don't be surprised.
Christmas in Pagosa means many thousands of visitors, 4,000 visitors or maybe more, driving up and down Pagosa highways, sleeping in local motels, shopping in local stores, eating in local restaurants, skiing, skating, dipping in the hot mineral baths, and generally reveling in the winter playground that is Pagosa Springs.
That's more than twice as many people as live in the town of Pagosa Springs.
A large number of those visitors book lodging through one of the local property management companies.
The largest of these rental companies is Fairfield Pagosa. Fairfield Pagosa's rentals here are managed by RCI Resort Management. Their manager, Steve Lydon, says his firm alone may be responsible for as many as 2,000 holiday visitors.
An accurate number of visitors is hard to come up with because the firm manages everything from small to large rental units.
"An average of four people per unit is probably pretty close," said Lydon. "We have 435 timeshare units. They are all occupied now. If we figure four people per unit, that would be 1,700 people. Some of our units hold as many as eight people and there are often more people than they tell us about. We may be housing as many as 2,000 people."
Sunetha Management Corp. has as many as 90 short-term rentals plus 10 or 12 timeshares.
"We are 100-percent booked through the holidays," said Eva Manbeck, the manager. "It's hard to estimate how many people we have because we rent lodging accommodating from two people to groups of 20. An average of six people per rental might be a good guess."
Using Manbeck's numbers, Sunetha may be housing about 600 visitors.
Pagosa Central Management and Reservations may have another 600 or so visitors staying in the quarters they provide, according to Alisa Knaggs, a receptionist in the company office. Pagosa Central manages the rental of homes, condominiums, and cabins.
"We have from 100 to 125 rental units," Knaggs said. "We are 100 percent booked up for the holiday." If every rental unit managed by Pagosa Central averages six people, another 600 or 700 visitors are added to the total.
Many holiday visitors avail themselves of Pagosa's famous geothermal waters, taking time to relax in the baths after a hard day on the slopes. Bill Dawson, co-owner of The Springs, said holiday business at his facility is healthy, but does not show an appreciable increase over last year's. The year as a whole, however, has been strong. "Our numbers for the year are up 25 percent on the baths," said Dawson, "but this holiday is comparable to the previous year. We're not seeing a big increase, so we'll probably finish the holiday season similar to 2001."
Visitation at the Chamber of Commerce office downtown is up about 20 percent this December when compared with December a year ago, according to Doug Trowbridge. Last December, 985 visitors signed the register. This year, that number is up to 1,130.
Date High Low Precipitation
Type Depth Moisture
Weather should be balmy first week of New Year
By John M. Motter
Pagosa weather should be relatively clear and warm through the coming week, according to Jerry Smith, a forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction.
A high-pressure ridge over western Colorado should limit conditions to partly or mostly cloudy skies, with little chance of precipitation through Monday, according to Smith. Daytime temperatures should range between 35-40 degrees. Nighttime lows should range between 5 and 15 degrees.
Strong winds aloft should break up any cold air trapped in pockets, allowing dispersion of warmer temperatures, Smith said.
Precipitation last week amount-ed to 0.14 inches, bringing total December precipitation to 0.56 inches. The long time average December precipitation is 1.79 inches.
High temperatures last week ranged between 22.8 and 39 degrees with an average high reading of 36.2 degrees. Low temperatures last week ranged between 13.8 and minus 0.1 degrees with an average low reading of 8 degrees.
The average precipitation for January is 1.85 inches including 27.1 inches of snow. January's mean temperature is 19.8 degrees. The coldest January temperature of record is the minus 42 degrees recorded Jan. 13, 1963.
The Fred Harman Art Museum provided local weather readings. The state climatologist in Fort Collins supplies historic records.
Hershey Foundation grant for River Walk signage
By Joe Lister Jr.
The Town of Pagosa Springs has received a check from the Hershey Foundation in the amount of $2,000.
The grant is specific for educational interpretive signage along the proposed extension of the River Walk. The extension should take place by October of 2003 with the present River Walk being extended from the River Walk bridge, along the river south to the Apache Street bridge.
The trail will encompass some of the most unique wetlands in the United States, with the San Juan River, and geothermal springs creating an environment for some very unique plant life. The ponds along the way also serve as a great stopping place for the migratory birds that travel through the area in the fall and spring.
This part of the River Walk will contain some viewing areas, these areas will consist of an open area where a person can get off the trail, possibly view the birds, and at this stopping point have some interpretive signage to help identify some of the plant life, wildlife, and some geology information.
Terese and the late Jake Hershey have owned a ranch in the area and Mrs. Hershey is active in the National Recreation and Parks Association. The parks and recreation department here in Pagosa Springs is trying to secure other grants, possibly to fund upgraded participation in the National Hershey Track meet to be held here in the spring of 2003.
The community center has been very busy this Christmas break with most youth basketball teams starting practice and gearing up for games that will be held Jan. 7.
Come to the center and enjoy some of the best entertainment in Pagosa. These kids have a ball.
Games will be held Monday through Thursday for the next two months.
Pirates riding 7-1 record as IML opener approaches
By John M. Motter
Coach Jim Shaffer's varsity cagers enter the new year with a 7-1 record and a strong desire to capture the Intermountain League title for the fourth consecutive year.
Blocking the Pirates' path are the other teams in the IML. The five-team league has a combined 27-7 record for the still young season. As respectable as is the Pagosa 7-1 record, two teams in the league are still unbeaten.
At the top of the list are the Ignacio Bobcats, 8-0 for the season. Not far behind are the Centauri Falcons with a 4-0 record. Next is Pagosa Springs at 7-1, followed by Bayfield at 5-2. Resting on the bottom is Monte Vista with a 3-4 record.
Ignacio seems to be feeding on the momentum generated last year when the Bobcats swept through the IML postseason tournament and well into the playoffs. Ignacio is averaging 75 points a game while holding opponents to 54. Laramie Miller, a 6-foot-5-inch senior tops Ignacio scoring, but Andre Mattox and Olin Goodtracks are not far behind. Ignacio runs the floor hard and shoots well from anywhere on the floor. Mattox, Goodtracks and Chris Phillips are all deadly shots from 3-point range.
Bobcat victories have come over Mancos 74-42, Dolores 78-50, Eagle Valley 81-65, Glenwood Springs 58-50, Faith Christian 75-65, Mancos 75-62, Farmington JV 66-57, and Durango JV 95-46. The biggest win is over Faith Christian, one of the early-season favorites to capture the state 3A title.
Pagosa's first game against Ignacio is Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Ignacio - a Tuesday night game.
Coach Joe Hunt's unbeaten Centauri five is paced by 6-1 senior Michael Brady. The Falcons reached the playoffs last year by beating Pagosa Springs in the first round of the post season tournament. They have outscored opponents by an average margin of 53-45. They have beaten Sanford 46-40, Alamosa 70-62, Salida 53-36 and Sangre de Cristo 47-43.
Pagosa Springs has probably played the toughest schedule of any IML team. Pagosa's lone loss was to Buena Vista 65-55. Buena Vista is another team well regarded in the state 3A-title chase. Pagosa's wins were 54-44 over Salida, 65-53 over Jefferson, 89-27 over Clear Creek, 65-31 over Gunnison, 63-33 over Rye, 42-31 over St Mary's and 65-39 over the Wasson JVs. Pagosa has averaged 62 points a game while holding opponents to an average of 41 points a game.
Pagosa scoring is led by 6-6 sophomore Caleb Forrest and 6-7 junior Clayton Spencer, but the Pirates get balanced scoring from a deep lineup.
The Wolverines from Bayfield are averaging 61 points a game while holding opponents to an average of 50 points a game. They are paced by 6-5 Jake Harrington and 6-3 Eric Nelson. Bayfield has wins of 75-45 over the Durango JV, 57-44 over Dolores, 69-47 over Bloomfield, 58-36 over Dove Creek and 72-49 over Dolores. Their losses are 70-44 to Piedra Vista, N.M., and 62-49 to Mancos.
Monte Vista, the Pirates from the San Luis Valley, is in the unusual position of facing a losing season. Over the past several years, Monte has either won the league crown or has been a serious challenger. Monte's three wins this season are all against Alamosa: 62-32, 46-44 and 55-51. Monte losses are 51-34 to Sangre de Cristo, 66-35 to Buena Vista, 62-57 to Salida and 76-48 to Del Norte. The Pirates are averaging 48 points a game while surrendering 55 points a game. Their leading scorer is C.J. Medina.
Following the year-ending holidays, Pagosa resumes play Jan. 11 by taking on the Durango Demons in Durango. Following Durango, Pagosa hosts Aztec, N.M., Jan. 13, Bloomfield, N.M., Jan. 17, then opens league play Jan. 18 by hosting Centauri.
The Pagosa football team has captured the IML title for the last four consecutive years. If the basketball squad can capture the IML title this season, they will match the football record of four consecutive titles. The basketball record is marred because, after tying with Monte Vista for the IML regular season title last season, Pagosa lost to Centauri in the opening game of the postseason tournament. The loss knocked Pagosa out of the tournament and ended any chance of making the playoffs.
Representing the IML in the playoffs last year were Ignacio, Monte Vista and Centauri.
Surprising Lady Pirate cagers ready for league
By Richard Walter
The Pagosa Springs Lady Pirates may have surprised even themselves with their early season performance but their 6-2 record in pre-league competition across the state gives evidence they'll be a factor in Intermountain League competition.
The Ladies still have a pair of pre-league encounters on the schedule, a road game Jan. 10 in Aztec and a home contest Jan. 17 against Bloomfield.
They will put their league hopes on the line right off the bat when they face one of the perennial favorites- Centauri, of La Jara - at home the following night. The Lady Falcons were league champions last year, ending a long Pagosa skein on the top rung.
Other IML teams, based on statistics listed in rockypreps.com, indicate a tough league battle in store. Bayfield is undefeated at 4-0 (but apparently reported only its wins) with victories over Mancos, Dolores twice and Dolores County.
Centauri is listed at 6-0 with victories over McCurdy, N.M., Sanford, Espanola, N.M., Salida, Sangre de Cristo and Sargent.
Ignacio checks in at 4-2 with victories over Mancos twice, Farming-ton JV, Durango JV and losses to Cortez and Bloomfield.
Monte Vista is at 5-1 with victories over Questa, N.M., Sargent, Sangre de Cristo, Salida and Del Norte and a loss to Buena Vista.
All those teams had other games on their schedules but results were not listed.
With only two seniors and a new head coach, Bob Lynch, the Pagosans were ignored in early polls but their balanced performance has some eyes being opened as the league schedule nears.
It is a team built around a bevy of what are coming to be known as the Super Sophs, two seniors, a single junior and a flock of frisky freshmen making their presence known.
A balanced attack has sophomore Lori Walkup the leading scorer with 92 markers in eight games, an average of 11.5 per game. She has picked off 40 rebounds, has 27 steals, 13 assists and a blocked shot.
Close behind her with nine points per game is sophomore center Caitlyn Jewell, by far the team's tallest player at 6-feet-2 inches, and one who admittedly is still learning the game but forcing herself to adjust to pressures of opposing defenses sagging in to stop her under the basket. Jewell has 36 rebounds, five steals, two assists and 11 blocked shots.
Just a fraction behind Jewell in scoring is senior point guard Shannon Walkup at 8.87 per game and 71 on the season. The person who sets the game plan and executes the offense, she is far and away the team leader in assists 38. She also has 22 steals, 11 rebounds and, at 5-7, one blocked shot.
Sophomore forward Bri Scott has scored 54 points, an average of 6.75 per game, while turning in 25 rebounds, 11 steals, 11 assists and a blocked shot.
Molly Honan, another member of the sophomore fleet, has turned into an active member of the pressing "swarm" defense, while averaging 4.87 points per game with her 39 total markers. Honan also has 24 rebounds, 10 steals and 10 assists.
In the same group, coming off the bench, is 5-9 forward Melissa Maberry with 30 points for the season, an average of 3.75 per game. She has turned in 21 rebounds, surprisingly 17 of them at the defensive end, halting an opponent's attack and opportunity for second-chance points. She has five steals and three assists.
Senior forward Katie Bliss has been the team's defensive catalyst, denying foes access to the basket and stopping drive after drive. She has scored 26 points for the season, an average of 3.25 per game, but has 27 rebounds, 12 steals, 12 assists, and five blocked shots with her 5-6 stature.
Others contributing to the effort have been junior Melissa Diller, scoreless in three appearances, but a ball handler who has beat the press time and again when on the floor in a relief role; sophomore Laura Tomford with two points in three appearances, four rebounds, one steal and an assist; freshman Liza Kelly with four points in three appearances, one rebound and one assist; freshman Keri Beth Faber with two points, one rebound and two steals in one appearance; and freshman Caitlin Forrest with four points in six games along with eight rebounds, one steal and an assist.
Don McCroddan, 64, of Russellville, Ark., and a former resident of the Pagosa Springs area, went home to be with his Lord, Jesus Christ, Friday, Dec. 27, 2002 at St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Russellville.
A son of the late Lincoln and Laura Gertrude McCroddan, he was born Aug. 23, 1938 at Orange, N.J. He was a retired lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, held a doctorate in entomology, and was a member of the Child Evangelism Fellowship, the Vixon RV Association and First Free Will Baptist Church in Russellville.
Survivors include his wife, Denise; two sons and daughters-in-law, Mark and Jennifer McCroddan and Stephen and Leslie, all of Russellville; two grandchildren, Emalie and Evan Mathew, both of Russellville; two sisters and brothers-in-law, Ethel and Randy Dunbar of Melbourne Beach, Fla., and Doris and Don Soulé of Sudbury, Mass; his father-in-law, Earl T. Lihme of Paradise, Calif.; his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law Kent and Alline Lihme of El Cajon, Calif; Anita and Bill Elwell of Lombard, Ill., and Lori Lihme of Paradise, Calif; 13 nephews and nieces and several great nephews and great nieces.
A family memorial service was conducted Dec. 30 at First Free Will Baptist Church in Russellville with Rev. Doug Little officiating.
Memorials may be made to the Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc., PO Box 348, Warrenton, Mo., 63383-0348.
Second half of 2002 added
to environmental worries
By Karl Isberg
As the second half of 2002 began, the worst drought in Archuleta County in recorded history continued to tighten its grip on the area.
Drought conditions in July were rated as "Exceptional," by authorities - the worst condition possible. A Level 2 watering restriction schedule was put into place for customers of Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District. Fires and the chance of wildfires led to the imposition of extreme restrictions on forest use.
"Let's Roll for Freedom" was the theme for the annual Fourth of July parade. The parade, the Red Ryder Roundup and other holiday events were well attended, but the holiday was without the traditional fireworks display, due to unusual fire danger. Fire crews in the county responded to 13 small wildfires during the second half of July alone, successfully dealing with each blaze.
A series of major construction projects on area highways was in full swing midsummer. Two projects kept motorists waiting on Wolf Creek Pass, while resurfacing and construction projects on U.S. 160 near Pagosa Springs added to traffic congestion. A project was set to begin in August on U.S. 84.
Representatives of several area districts and organizations got together to plan a cloud-seeding program to stimulate rain and snowfall during the fall and winter months. The group began the process of soliciting bids for the project in early August in order to begin the seeding in November.
A light voter turnout in party primary elections set the slates for November's general elections. Only two candidates - both Republicans - faced opposition in local primary races. Sheriff Tom Richards and Archuleta County Treasurer Traves Garret fended off competitors to represent their party in the fall. Both were incumbents.
In light of drought conditions and the increasing scarcity of water available for domestic use, Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District established a moratorium on accepting any new territory into the district until such time as water supplies were again plentiful. At the same time, representatives of the San Juan Water Conservancy District negotiated a contract with Durango-based Western Weather Consultants to begin seeding clouds in the area Nov. 1.
There were events galore to keep residents and visitors alike entertained at the beginning of September.
The annual Four Corners Folk Festival was forced to move from its traditional site atop Reservoir Hill due to fire danger, but large crowds seemed to enjoy the area adjacent to the Pagosa Springs Community Center and next to the San Juan River west of the Town Hall complex.
Local sports enthusiasts received a big dose of high school athletics as all Pirate teams got their fall schedules underway. With the end of the Labor Day holiday, local school children were back to classes.
The decomposing bodies of a Denver-area man and woman were discovered at a campsite just inside the Weminuche Wilderness area north of Pagosa Springs. An investigation of the deaths by the Hinsdale County Sheriff's Department and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation centered on the possibility of murder-suicide or a double homicide.
Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District put a $10.5 million bond issue on the November general election ballot, most of the money targeted at capital improvements projects that are part of the district's 20-year plan to meet population increases with enhanced water delivery capacity. At the same time, increases in district water bills brought protests from many commercial customers.
Finally, all fire bans in Archuleta County, state and local, were lifted due to rain, cooler temperatures and increased humidity. Water shortages continued, however, and Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District put a lawn-watering ban in place, effective Oct. 15.
The Amber Alert system proved its worth in late September as data broadcast from Archuleta County Central dispatch led to the recovery in Espanola, N.M. of three youngsters abducted the night before from their home in downtown Pagosa Springs.
Due to conflicts with statutory deadlines and ballot printing dates, Pagosa Springs trustees postponed a vote on Home Rule. The board signaled its intent to bring the question of an alternative form of government to the voters at a special election in April 2003.
The discovery of dead mice in the walls of the Extension Building at the Archuleta County Fairgrounds prompted immediate closure of the facility. The Colorado State University Extension office moved to temporary quarters in a building located on Put Hill.
Mystery continued to surround the disappearance of a Pagosa man, Greg Myers, 48. Myers was reported missing by family members in August. An avid climber and hiker, he was initially thought to have been on a climbing trip in Utah or California. A search of areas in the Weminuche wilderness area near Pagosa Springs in October failed to produce any evidence leading to Myers' whereabouts.
Wolf Creek Ski Area took advantage of it's early season snowfall to open the slopes for business Oct. 31 - one of the few ski areas in the region able to do so.
Lady Pirate cross country runner Emily Schur was in the sports headlines Oct. 31. Schur, a freshman, competed at the Colorado 3A state championships and finished in second place - the best-ever performance by a Pagosa Springs High School cross country runner.
The month began with a bang, as general election results were tallied Nov. 5 following a 50-percent voter turnout. In the most visible county race, Democratic challenger Mamie Lynch defeated incumbent Republican Gene Crabtree for the seat on the county commission representing District 3. Lynch, a former commissioner, won the race 2,274-1,684.
Tom Richards returned to the county sheriff's office for a fourth term after defeating write-in challenger Chuck Allen, 2,589-512.
Unchallenged and returning to office were Clerk June Madrid, Treasurer Traves Garrett, Assessor Keren Prior, Surveyor David Maley and Coroner Carl Macht.
State Sen. Jim Isgar was returned to office to represent District 6 with a victory over Republican Kay Alexander and Rep. Mark Larson went unchallenged and was returned to the House, representing District 59.
The $10.5 million bond proposal from Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District was narrowly approved by voters, 1,490-1,398.
Finally, some daylight for the Upper San Juan health Services District. The district, plagued by revenue and expense problems, was able to announce the 2003 budget should find the district back in the black. The change in a positive financial direction came after a year of sometimes-contentious change at the district as the board of directors and a new manager set about the task of altering the entity's economic course.
Relating to another controversial program in Pagosa Country, the Colorado Division of Wildlife announced plans to release as many as 150 lynx in area mountains during the next three years and 180 of the animals during the next five years. Starting in 1999, there were 96 lynx released in the mountains north of Pagosa Springs and the Division had yet to discover evidence those animals reproduced in their new home.
The Pagosa Pirate football team won yet another Intermountain League title and moved on to Class 3A playoff action. The team defeated Manitou Springs in the first round of the playoffs, in a thrilling 28-27 double overtime game at Golden Peaks Stadium. The Pirates then hosted Eagle Valley in an Elite Eight game, bowing to the Devils 10-0 on a muddy field to bring another successful season to an end.
A case involving a local resident who claims members of a motorcycle club assaulted him was deemed unworthy of prosecution by the district attorney's office. The DA's office ruled there was insufficient evidence to file charges against anyone involved in the incident.
Local governmental entities unveiled 2003 budgets and attendant mill levies. The county budget for the next year was approved at $14.1 million, carrying a levy of 18.545 mills - up from the 2002 levy of 17.257 mills. The assessed valuation for purposes of determining county taxes was determined to be $181.5 million.
The total assessed valuation for all taxing entities in the county stood at $1.4 billion - up from $1.3 billion the previous year. Mill levies for those entities included the area's highest - Archuleta School District 50 Jt. with 30.4 (unchanged from the previous year). The school district's assessed valuation of $173.9 million and its mill levy is expected to generate $5.3 million in tax revenue in 2003.
A Pagosa youngster, 8-year-old Garrett Carothers, was mauled by two dogs near his home in the Vista subdivision west of Pagosa Springs. The boy was hospitalized and the attack produced outrage and concern among local citizens, including demands for a variety of animal control efforts from local government and other organizations. Evidence in the case was sent to the district attorney for decisions concerning possible charges against the animals' owner.
The local natural gas supplier announced refunds were on the way to area customers. This followed news earlier in the month from Kinder Morgan, the supplier, that prices for its product would be reduced 7 percent.
Snow arrived in time for the holidays in Pagosa Country. Three feet of snow in the high country the week before the start of the holiday period guaranteed a healthy number of skiers and local holiday events were a rousing success.
Motter leaving SUN to assume ministry
By Richard Walter
A veteran of the newspaper scene in Pagosa Springs, in two different stays with The SUN, is leaving again, effective today, to take over the pastorate of a Baptist congregation in Dulce, N.M.
John M. Motter, who has covered county government, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District, Upper San Juan Regional Planning Commission and Pagosa Springs Pirates football and basketball since 1996, announced his plans in early December.
Motter, perhaps even more widely known for his historic perspectives on the county and its early settlers, is author of "Pagosa Country: The First 50 years," a definitive study of early Archuleta County and the sources of its settlers.
From that beginning, he has traced the past lives of dozens of persons important to the development of the community, county and region. His collection of obituaries of those who initiated the development of the county provides a good starting point for anyone wanting to trace lineage into the past.
He intends to continue his Oldtimer series as a correspondent for the newspaper.
This was Motter's second stint with The SUN. Before going to Texas for several years of newspapering, he worked for The SUN when Glen Edmonds was owner and publisher, and was responsible for advertising sales as well as much of the news coverage, serving as general manager and managing editor. Motter also authored travel books while in Texas.
An accomplished photographer, too, his lens-eye views of athletic events have been a mainstay of SUN sports coverage.
Dulce won't be a strange land for Motter. His wife, Vicki, is a teacher in the schools there and the couple have alternated residences between Pagosa Springs and the New Mexico community for the past several years.
John will be replaced in the newsroom by Tom Carosello, an Ohio State University graduate in journalism, who has been working in the SUN advertising department since joining the newspaper a little over a year ago. Carosello wrote for Cityscape Magazine for four years in Canton, Ohio, and produced articles for the Arizona Daily Sun, in Flagstaff, Ariz.
The SUN wishes the Motters well in their new endeavor.
Schools, town plan to enforce
student loading zone statues
By Richard Walter
For safety purposes, changes are being made in the student drop-off and loading zone on Lewis Street where students for the junior high and intermediate schools are off-loaded and loaded.
After consultation with Police Chief Don Volger, the school administration has determined that buses loading and unloading students outside the two schools must have stop signs and red flashing lights activated.
Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1903 requires school bus drivers to use the stop sign and red flashing lights whenever stopped on a public roadway for the purpose of loading or discharging school children.
The law also requires all vehicles to stop and not proceed until the bus driver has stopped actuating the red signal and stop sign.
"We understand this will create additional congestion on Lewis Street and 4th streets before and after school," said Superintendent Duane Noggle. "When roads are icy, the buses may stop longer than usual at the stop sign on 4th Street to wait for the buses ahead of them to unload students."
He said, "This may create some traffic congestion but it will hopefully eliminate the possibility of a bus being struck on the slight grade as it makes its turn onto Lewis Street."
The school district is also requesting parents to avoid parking curbside facing the school on Lewis. If there are private vehicles parked in the loading zone, school officials said, it will create additional congestion in the area.
Dolly Martin, the district's transportation director, requests all motorists to observe the red flashing lights on buses. The cooperation of parents and community members to insure the safety of students is appreciated, she said.
Volger has informed the district his department will begin strict enforcement of the state laws regarding flashing lights and stop signals in the area when students return to school Jan. 7.
Any questions concerning the school district policy should be directed to Martin at 264-2305, Ext. 335.
Man dead, teen injured in separate Wolf Creek recreation incidents
By Tess Noel Baker
One person was killed and another injured while recreating on Wolf Creek Pass Sunday.
Charles Downing, Mineral County coroner, said Troy Don Oglesby, 42, of Edmond, Okla., died at Wolf Creek Ski Area. He had apparently made one run down the mountain and felt tired. At that point, he took his skis off in order to rest a while. He was standing near the Bonanza ski lift when he collapsed.
The ski patrol arrived in less than one minute to assist the man, Downing said. A pair of medical professionals standing in line for the ski lift also assisted. Oglesby could not be resuscitated and the coroner was called.
At this time, cause of death is unknown. The body was taken to the El Paso County Coroner's office in Colorado Springs for an autopsy. The autopsy was set for Tuesday, Downing said.
At about the same time Sunday a 14-year-old South Fork girl was critically injured while sledding near the summit of Wolf Creek Pass.
Downing said a sled apparently went out of control and Lorna Franke hit a tree. Air Care was called for transport. As of Tuesday morning, Franke was in critical but stable condition at San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington.
Intersection modifications explained
By Tess Noel Baker
In the next few months, a little more light will guide drivers at Talisman Drive.
Colorado Department of Transportation Region 5 Safety Engineer Ed Demming said three street lights will be placed at the intersection to further increase safety for motorists.
Safety has been a big issue at the intersection for a long time.
The intersection of Talisman Drive and U.S. 160, located just east of Pagosa Country Center, became a three-quarter intersection this summer. A three-quarter intersection means that one turn is prohibited. In the case of Talisman Drive and U.S. 160, it's the left turn from Talisman Drive onto the highway. Traffic must now travel farther east to a signal at Piñon Boulevard to turn left. Traffic signals there were also installed over the summer.
"This modification of Talisman was needed because of several factors including the reduced spacing between Piñon and Pagosa Boulevard, the quarter-mile spacing between Talisman and the two signals, but most importantly, at least in the short term, as a result of accident patterns at Talisman," Demming said.
In a five-year study of accidents on U.S. 160 between Pagosa Boulevard and Alpha Drive, the Talisman Drive intersection proved to be the most dangerous. Out of a total of 53 accidents, 25 - nearly half - occurred at the Talisman Drive intersection, compared to 17 at Pagosa Boulevard and 10 at Alpha Drive. The study was done prior to signals being installed at Pagosa Boulevard.
Of the 25 accidents at Talisman Drive and U.S. 160, 22 involved vehicles turning left off Talisman and being broadsided. The majority involved injuries.
Placing a traffic signal at Talisman Drive was not an option because of its proximity to North Pagosa Boulevard, he added. Conventional traffic engineering guidelines show major intersections, those requiring signalization, need to be placed at one-mile spacings. This allows the traffic to flow properly and prevents backups. Talisman Drive is only about a quarter-mile from North Pagosa Boulevard. The half-mile distance to Piñon Boulevard is much more acceptable in the long-term plan, Demming said.
"All traffic can either use Pagosa or Piñon to leave the shopping center safely and at the same time, vehicles traveling on U.S. 160 will not be stopped three times through this one half-mile segment," he said.
Demming said improvements on Village Drive leading from the shopping center to Piñon might be needed in the future. "We've been talking with the town about that at some point," he said. "We do feel the way it's been engineered that corridor will work well forever, or for a very long time."
The new lights at Talisman Drive should be installed sometime in the next few months, weather permitting.
Scholarship applications are available
Wal-Mart is proud to announce the availability of applications for the 2003 Sam Walton Community Scholarships.
This year, each Wal-Mart store has the opportunity to award two $1,000 Community Scholarships to graduating high school seniors. The program is available to "eligible" graduating high school seniors; Wal-Mart Stores Inc. associates or their children are not eligible to participate in this program.
Applications are available now at the Durango Wal-Mart Customer Service area or in the local high school counseling office. Photocopies of the application (on white paper) are acceptable. Students must return completed applications to a member of management at the Durango Wal-Mart in a sealed 9-by-12 envelope with their name, address and high school name on the outside of the envelope before midnight Feb. 1.
Sealed envelopes are confidential and will not be opened at the store. They will be forwarded unopened to Program Administrators Inc., hired by Wal-Mart to manage the 2003 Sam Walton Community Scholarship Program.
Well, it has finally happened - a dog attack and unfortunately it was on a child. Having had several incidents with dogs at large and dangerous dogs in our neighborhood in Meadows III, I am saddened but not surprised at the attack before Christmas.
I have never lived anywhere where there are so many irresponsible dog owners and such an unwillingness to do anything about them. We have had several problems in our neighborhood on Hersch Avenue and have attended several hearings at the PLPOA. I commend the volunteers who sit on these panels but they are often not provided with adequate information on the cases to be heard.
On one appeal alone I was told there were four "administrative errors" which resulted in the panel handing down a fine for $100 to a dog owner on probation for a previous violation - the previous panel had stated any further violations would result in a $200 fine but that information was not in the file!
Dog owners who let their dogs run loose, bark all hours of the day and night have no regard for neighbors, the community or the dog itself. A dog at large is very likely to be struck by a car or killed by predators - not a very pretty way for your family pet to end up!
What is most troubling however is the inaction taken by the PLPOA - too many slaps on the hands, probation and looking the other way. If a fine is issued and not paid nothing is done about that either. The county better get real as well and take some action to punish the dog owners who allow these situations to continue.
In the county in Arizona where we lived prior to Pagosa Springs dog owners whose animals left their property and bit were fined $500 and required to post a dangerous dog sign on a front fence, gate or door. Should it happen again, the dog was destroyed and the owner subject to jail time. Needless to say there was very little problem with dogs at large.
A lawsuit will result from the attack last week, as well it should. Once the files are subpoenaed from PLPOA on the dog problem it will become clear that too much inaction by the association and the county is going to cost us all a great deal but not as much as little Garrett Carothers.
Connie Smith of Aspen Springs has a kind heart. On Dec. 21 she threw a party for families out here and lots of us came. We all brought food.
Jack Price provided live music and Karaoke Santa was there. Connie provides a room at her business where she collects food, clothing, toys and even some furniture for families in need and they just come and help themselves.
Isn't that the true meaning of Christmas? And we were able to witness it in action.
Thank you for that gift, Connie.
Cindy and Ron Gustafson
Rocked by horror
This past week our community (and I am new to it) was rocked by the horror of the vicious dog attack on a little boy in his own neighborhood.
No one can say that all dogs of a certain breed are vicious. Some will insist that it is all in the training and/or the responsibility of the particular pet owner. Still the most commonly restricted dog nationwide is the pit bull. This legislation is referred to as breed specific legislation. Pit bull owners may be resentful of this, but there must be a reason for this type of legislation.
There are numerous communities and states that have enacted bans and restrictions on the animals and there are states where owners of pit bulls must carry liability insurance.
I am sure you see what I am driving at.
The Web site (admittedly pit bull-friendly) where I obtained the information about bans and other restrictions - www.pitbull awareness.com - also states that "A Pit Bull with the correct temperament will not threaten to attack a human without a very good reason, but will begin becoming alert to doorbell or the sight of a stranger approaching the house." After recent events in this town I am sure that there are many that would beg to differ with this statement.
Common sense would dictate that such an animal would at the very least be required to be penned up in a pen that would have four sides, a roof (attached) and a concrete base. Chaining and muzzling are inadequate. Such animals do not belong merely chained in close quarters where a child might accidentally wander to take a short cut or retrieve a lost ball. Such animals should never be let loose, the mere thought is unconscionable.
As a community I believe we should rally to support such breed specific legislation. Children and people are more important than animals. The right of an individual to own such an animal is superceded by the right of a child to play freely in his or her own yard. These laws are for humans, not the animals, and $100,000 insurance on each animal is probably not out of line based on the potential of human suffering and maiming that these animals have been known to cause completely unprovoked.
All of us are praying for this little boy, now let's go a step ever further and legislate in Archuleta County to prevent this type of tragedy from ever reoccurring.
First and foremost, I would like to offer my prayers and best wishes to Garrett Carothers. Early last week, he was taken to the hospital because two dogs (one a pit bull and the other a retriever mix) harmed him.
Yes people, one pit and one mixed. Get your facts straight. It is disgusting how quickly you get your facts mixed up. There were rumors circulating town and even on the radio and television directly after this incident occurred.
Here's my advice: If you hear a story beginning with "I heard," don't take it for fact. Not only do you play the telephone game, but you distort reality. Why does it matter? It matters because the stigma you attach to pit bulls, to their owners, destroys lives.
Educate yourselves. Realize that people and animals are only as good as you treat them. And, assumptions do no good.
If you find yourself gossiping and assuming, stop yourself and realize, you don't know the facts.
Do not be judgmental. Only God can judge.
I read the front-page article in the SUN involving the horrific dog attack on Garret Carrothers, and as I absorbed the details I became increasingly more angry.
It is about time that both officials and some citizens of Archuleta County, and the PLPOA face up to the fact that we have an increasing dog problem in Archuleta County and it is not going away because they choose to ignore it.
In the 2 1/2 years that I have lived in Meadows II, a PLPOA subdivision, I and neighbors have been involved in a case brought by the state of Colorado because of the incessant barking, at all times of the day and night, of a neighbor's dogs. I still have to listen to neighbors' dogs - large and small (the small ones are particularly annoying) - barking at all times of the day and night. This is just one part of the dog problem we live with every day in this county where dogs are also frequently running at large in the Meadows Drive area without supervision.
As the dog problem increases with the influx of more and more residents, I understand we no longer have a dogcatcher employed by either the PLPOA or Archuleta County. Why?
It seems we do not have adequate laws within the county to address the problem. The laws we do have appear to be rarely, if at all, enforced.
I can only hope that Garret Carothers' pain and suffering caused by uncontrolled, dangerous dogs is a wake-up call to everyone in Archuleta County that something needs to be done now.
For the record, my husband and I own two large dogs, which are only allowed to run in our fenced-in yard. They have been trained not to bark, but on the few occasions they bark, they are brought inside immediately, because not only do we not like to hear dogs barking, we are also considering neighbors' rights to peace and quiet, something most of our neighbors do not seemed concerned about. In addition, when we walk our dogs, on leashes, we pick up after them - another increasing problem within the area.
I do not blame any dogs for their behavior; it is the owner's responsibility to train his/her dogs to fit in with the expectations of society. It is the owners who should always be punished, and as soon as we do this, the problem will stop.
This unfortunate episode brought to mind the letter in your Sept. 27 issue "No Rights." I hope the author of that letter has read this article and is rethinking a cavalier attitude about dog ownership.
I can only hope that suitable charges are brought again this irresponsible owner and that he/she is punished accordingly.
Hopes for peace, good health and a happy new year
By Janet Copeland
Happy New Year! I hope 2003 will bring peace, good health, and happiness to all our friends and family, as well as to the world. Remember to smile.
A very special thank you to the students from School within a School who sang Christmas carols and presented us with homemade cookies Dec. 20.
What would Christmas be without children? We loved having them and hope they will come back again. I apologize for not thanking you in last week's article because of early deadlines at the paper, I had already submitted my article before your performance.
We had a wonderful Christmas Party Dec. 24. The meal was delicious, thanks to our wonderful kitchen staff. Bill Nobles gave us a special treat by singing a variety of Christmas songs. Bill has a beautiful voice and we so appreciate his contribution to our exciting Christmas party.
Winners of our "most festive dress" contest were first prize, Helen Schoonover; second prize, Marilyn McPeek; and third prize, Gene Copeland. I'm sure the judges had a hard time making a decision because many folks were dressed very festively. Thanks to the ladies who did the judging. Those who brought gifts enjoyed the gift exchange, which is always fun.
A big welcome to all the guests and returning members who joined us last week. Since there were so many I won't attempt to list all the names, but we were honored to have you join us.
Our folks celebrating December birthdays were honored Friday. Happy belated birthday to Ray Bough, Virginia Sheets, Glenda Cloward, Lenore Bright, Anna Denny, Joann Sager, Ruben Lucero, Sandy Cardoso, Joe Lister, Sylva Rayburn, Paul Cronkhite, Ingrid Leppitsch, Lee Sterling, Eva Martinez, Louise Diedring, Wilma Weber, June Nelson, David Jeffries and Sy Kolman.
Our sympathy to Laura Bedard in the loss of her father. We are happy to have her back with us.
We enjoyed the card from Richard and Karen Feldt, who are vacationing in Hawaii. Thanks for thinking of us while you are "roughing it" on the islands. You are missed here so hurry home.
Beginning Jan. 6 at 10 a.m., there will be a new program available to folks: the Colorado on the Move Walking Program.
This is a fun and easy program that can help you increase your levels of physical activity and enjoy many benefits of better health without changing much of what you do every day. The program is open to all ages, with emphasis on folks 55 and over.
The multi-purpose room at the Community Center will normally be available for this program from 10-11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Join us Jan. 6 at the Senior Center for our Kick-Off. We will begin with a short presentation and sign-up, then we'll issue pedometers and water bottles, courtesy of the Pagosa Springs Welcoming Service. Pedometers will be issued to participants to help count our steps, and those who complete the 14-week program will be allowed to keep the pedometers (as long as our supply lasts).
Musetta needs more volunteers for January's calendar. Please contact her at 264-2167 if you can donate a few hours.
The transportation department has a new table for trip sign-ups - a table just outside Cindy's office for the specific use of arranging trips and accounting for people. This new system should help the department run more efficiently and allow users to have a specific contact person when they need more information. Call Cindy at 264-6371 for more information.
Jan. 6 - 10 a.m. chair exercises; bridge for fun, 1 p.m.
Jan. 7 - 9:30 a.m. yoga; 11 a.m. blood pressures checks by Glenda Cloward; 12:45 p.m. art class in the arts media room of the Community Center.
Jan. 9 - Durango shopping trip.
Jan. 10 -10 a.m. Qi Gong; 11 a.m. Jim Hanson - Medicare Counseling; 1 p.m. free movie.
Durango clinic now seeing patients
By Andy Fautheree
The Durango VA Clinic is getting back up to speed with seeing as many as 10 veteran patients a day. Most of the current veteran appointments are for those that had to be canceled a few weeks ago due to the sudden death of Dr. John Starns.
It is expected Dr. Dave Sigurslid will start seeing new scheduled appointments as soon as the clinic gets caught up. Sigurslid is also able to schedule prescription drugs for veterans through the VA pharmacy program. This had been temporarily suspended until Sigurslid was given final approval by the VA medical system.
I urge all Archuleta County veterans to be patient with scheduled appointments at the Durango VA Clinic. If you were previously scheduled for an appointment and that appointment was canceled due to the temporary closure, you should have been contacted by the clinic for a re-scheduled appointment. If you have not been contacted by the clinic, you should contact them yourself at 247-2214.
Be patient in getting your appointment re-scheduled. If you leave a message on their answering machine, follow up with another call in a week or so if you have not been contacted back by the clinic. If you speak to someone on the staff at the clinic and they promise to call you back with a new appointment, follow up on that call if you do not get a confirmed appointment date within a week or so.
Clinic very busy
It is important to understand they are extremely busy at the clinic trying to schedule as many veterans as possible. They may not have a chance to call you back in a timely manner, or something might get overlooked in the phone messaging system. Again, I urge all our veterans to be diligent in their own needs, call the clinic, and make sure your medical needs are being properly scheduled.
Also, if you have an appointment scheduled at the clinic I suggest you call a day or so before your appointment date to make sure it is still on schedule.
If you have just recently enrolled in the VA Health Care system for the Durango clinic you should receive a letter from the Albuquerque VA Medical Center advising you that you are approved and in the system for VA Health Care. Once you get that letter, you should call the Durango VA Clinic at the number above and tell the clinic staff you want to be scheduled for your first complete physical exam for primary health care. Again, if they tell you they will contact you later to schedule an appointment, wait a week or so and then call them again if they have not contacted you. Kind of like "the squeaky wheel gets attention" syndrome.
Doing a great job
The folks at the Durango VA Clinic are doing a fabulous job of handling our veterans' health care needs. But with recent staff changes and the loss of Dr. Starns they have been completely overwhelmed with applicants and scheduling. Please show them the utmost courtesy and patience while waiting your turn in appointment scheduling. They will get to you, and they will take care of your needs.
If you have very serious health concerns that need more immediate attention you are certainly encouraged to contact this office and I will see what I can do in communicating this need to the Durango clinic.
Once you have started receiving primary health care at the clinic be sure to continue with future appointments and physical examinations at least once a year to stay in the VA Health Care system. If you do not maintain your active patient status you could be dropped from the system. If that happens, you would need to start all over as a VA patient, which could result in some long delays being assigned to a new health care provider.
Stay in the system
The system is getting very crowded with veteran applicants, and the priority is now being given to those veterans with 50 percent or higher service connected disabilities. This is a very small portion of all the veterans seeking VA Health Care. If you don't have service-connected disabilities, and you are dropped from the system for some reason, you may have difficulty getting back in. But if you remain an active patient in the system I doubt if you would be dropped from receiving VA Health Care.
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 email@example.com. The office is open from 8 to 4, Monday through Thursday, Friday by appointment. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for registration with the county, application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.
Mardi Gras party just two weeks away
By Doug Trowbridge
The New Year is here and with it comes a clean slate on which to build. The struggles of 2002 are behind us and the future is waiting. What does 2003 hold in store for us? I can't make any promises, but if we all pull together, things ought to be looking up for everyone this year.
One thing I can assure you, the Chamber will be working hard to bring everyone back to Pagosa this year, so be prepared.
Mardi Gras party
It's only two weeks away. The Chamber's fourth annual Mardi Gras Party and membership meeting is Jan. 18, at Pagosa Lodge starting at 6 p.m. We're hoping you'll make a point to attend.
This is always a great party with excellent food and great friends. The Chamber provides commemorative cups and free beads, although we encourage everyone to get in the Mardi Gras spirit by coming in costume. We'll be honoring Pagosa's Citizen of the Year and Volunteer of the Year and giving away a free one-year Chamber membership to the person who gets the baby in their piece of King Cake. This party is always the talk of the town, so don't be left out. Members will be receiving their invitations soon.
Don't forget to cast your votes for three of the six candidates running for Chamber Board director, especially if you cannot attend the annual Mardi Gras Jan. 18. The nine directors act collectively as the governing body for your Chamber of Commerce and act as your voice in all matters Chamber, so getting to know them through their profiles and conversations is ever so important. In any election, it is imperative to exercise your right to vote, and this one is no exception. Please drop in the Visitor Center to register your vote or give Doug a call at 264-2360 with any questions.
New Year's Eve dance
Looking for something to do on New Year's Eve? The Knights of Columbus invite you to attend their New Year's Eve Dance at the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Clubhouse to benefit the David C. Mitchell Scholarship Fund. Tickets for this event can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce in advance for $10 per person or $18 for couples. All tickets at the door will be $12, and the fun begins at 8:30 p.m. Country Feedback will provide the music, and party favors, snacks and champagne will be provided.
As always, the Pagosa Springs Arts Council will be holding its photography contest during the month of February. This means that all you shutter bugs out there need to get cracking. Jan. 29 is the deadline for entries and that day is fast approaching. Each entry is only $4. If you have never been to this show you are really missing out. Each year Pagosa's local talent shows off at this contest and the results are always stunning. Entries will be displayed in Moonlight Books for the month of February for all to see. If you like taking pictures, pick out one or two of your favorites and get them into the show. Entry forms can be picked up at Moonlight Books, Mountain Snapshots, or the Pagosa Arts Council Gallery in Town Park.
The Fort Lewis Small Business Development Center will offer a 12-week course entitled Nx Entrepreneurial Training starting Jan. 22. The class is targeted toward existing and some start-up businesses that want to develop their business management skills. The class will cover a variety of key business management areas including business goals/mission statements, market research, legal structures, customer profiles, understanding financial statements, financial planning and much more. The final course product needed to graduate will be a business plan for your business. Tuition for the class is $250. For more information, a class schedule, or application contact Joe Keck, at 247-7009 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One new member and six renewals help us kick off the New Year. Our new member is one that should be a hit if the requests we get in the Visitors Center are any indication. Mary Chang joins us with Pagosa Health and Fitness, also known as "The Club." Located at 450 Lewis St. Pagosa Health and Fitness offers a full service health club with cardio room, free weight room and an aerobics room with daily fitness classes for all levels. They also offer massage, facials and beauty services. For more information about The Club, you can call 264-2880.
We'll start off our renewals with Moonlight Books and Gallery, owned by Jerry and Joan Rohwer. Next up is Pat Alley with Whispering Pines Development, LLC. Dawn Walker joins us as a broker associate from the Pagosa Real Estate Store. Our next renewal is Copper Coin Discount Liquor Store owned by George Wakefield. Finally, we welcome back Denny Barber with two companies, Hog's Breath Saloon and Silverado Clothing.
The Chamber wishes a happy and very prosperous New Year to all our members and to everyone in Pagosa. May 2003 bring health and joy to all.
Closed Dec. 31 for inventory, cleaning
By Lenore Bright
I'm in the usual, annual, end-of-year desperation mode.
Like Katherine Cruse, I find it difficult to write a column way ahead of schedule.
The end of the year brings requests for all sorts of statistics that are mind numbing and time consuming.
Inventory has to be done. Reports must be sent to the state. The Board of Trustees must pass resolutions. The budget must be finalized. The auditor will soon be requesting information that finds me in the throes of Alzheimer's Š Where did I put that document?
I always swear I will do better at record management next year.
It all culminates on New Year's Eve when the library will be closed while a bevy of volunteers come in and help us do inventory and clean the book shelves. These dedicated volunteers are the backbone of the library. I plan to feature them this coming year in this column. Their help with this annual event becomes the highlight of the holiday season when they bring all of the work to a close.
The library board of trustees is made up of seven unpaid individuals who volunteer their time to oversee the operations of the library.
The town and county appoint library trustees. They are Joan Rohwer, John Steinert, Glenn Raby, Jack Ellis, Scotty Gibson, Jim Denvir and new member Kerry Dermody, who replaced retiring Cathne Holt.
The Friends of the Library board consists of seven individuals who volunteer their time to assist the library in reaching the goals and objectives set each year.
The Friends board members are Warren Grams, Judy Wood, Maureen Covell, Donna Geiger, Dick Hillyer, Cynthia Mitchell and Charla Ellis. This board is elected at the annual meeting of the Friends of the Library.
We have a big challenge ahead of us in the coming year. Can we raise enough money to add on a wing and remodel the existing building to accommodate the requested increases in services? With these leaders, the excellent staff, our volunteers and your support, I am confident we will be successful.
A library says a lot about a community. This is your library - this is your community.
Bob and Jessie Formwalt of Pagosa Springs are pleased to announce the marriage of their youngest daughter, Rebekka Elise, to John Arthur Schneider, son of John and Phyllis Schneider of Milwaukee, Wis. The union was celebrated in Durango Sept. 7, 2002, with the Rev. John Bowe and the Rev. Don Strait, both of Pagosa Springs, officiating.
Bekka completed her master's from the University of Notre Dame in May and is now a product manager for Strong Investments in Menominee Falls, Wis. John is an orthopedic surgeon. After honeymooning in Saint John, the couple is at home in Whitefish Bay, Wis.
Finding a Friend
Volunteer program provides visitors to homebound or lonely seniors
By Tess Noel Baker
Making friends can be difficult to do in any situation, but for people confined to their homes for medical reasons, it can be close to impossible.
A new program sponsored by the Silver Foxes Den, Archuleta County's senior citizen center, might make it easier. After all, the Friendly Visitor Program brings friends right to the door. All anyone has to do is ask.
The program is meant to match a volunteer with someone who could use the company - someone who might be homebound or just lonely - maybe for an hour or two a week. It's meant to provide contact with the outside world, an appointment to look forward to or just a friendly face.
"It was just one of those ideas that kind of came across the brain," Musetta Wollenweber, director of the senior center said, guessing she probably heard of a similar program elsewhere. She contacted the San Juan Basin Health Department for some possible names and soon had a list of 13 or 14 people on her desk. All were contacted by the health department staff first, she said, and now all are requesting the program. Volunteer numbers just haven't caught up.
So far, Wollenweber said, she has a list of six, maybe seven, volunteer visitors. Others are still needed, but for a program that was nothing more than idea a few months ago, things are going well.
Virginia Pichon, the first volunteer visitor, actually asked to be assigned to a second person Friday. "More people should get involved with the program," she said. "It makes me feel good to go visit her. She's smiling when I leave." The lady Pichon visits is on oxygen and, although she can leave the house for short trips, is easily tired.
"I usually go on Fridays," Pichon said. She stays about and hour and a half. "After that, you're pushing it trying to think of something to say."
To get started, she called the phone number assigned by Wollenweber, making an effort not to be too pushy. After talking for awhile, she told the woman she'd be happy to come over and visit whenever convenient.
"I let them decide if they want me to come," Pichon said. So far, it has worked out very well. "We talk about everything imaginable, shows on TV, some of the experiences we've had, one thing tends to lead to another. We agree on a lot."
Wollenweber said with the successful start to the program, more people will be matched up soon. So far, most matches have been made on the basis of distance. Most people want to visit someone close to their home. Otherwise, she's just sitting down and talking with people, giving them their options and trying to find a good match. Volunteers are asked to check in once in a while to let Wollenweber know how things are going, but it's a fairly informal process.
"They're my eyes and ears out there if there are other needs," she said. Some might like a Meal on Wheels delivered. Others might not know about the transportation assistance offered through the Silver Foxes Den.
However, more volunteers are needed.
Pichon, who's lived in Pagosa Springs for about a year and a half, said it's easier than some people think to get involved. For her, it simply took a conversation with a dental assistant.
"I said, 'I wish I were as busy as you,'" Pichon said. "She said, 'Would you like to be as busy as I am?' I said, 'Yes ,' and you (Wollenweber) called me."
Soon, Pichon will be even busier with a second friend to make, and more visits to plan.
"Making them feel better, makes me feel good," she said. Anyone who wants to volunteer as a visitor can call the Silver Foxes Den at 264-2167. People desiring to be matched up with a visitor or family who know of someone who needs a visitor may call the same number.
The Silver Foxes Den is looking for a few good volunteers for a new visitors program. Volunteers are matched with someone in the community, usually someone unable to get out much, and then are expected to visit the person periodically. For more information, or to sign up, call Musetta Wollenweber at 264-2167.
Tales of Elfego Baca's exploits highlight history of New Mexico
By John M. Motter
A few weeks ago I mentioned the obituary of Elfego Baca in one of my Old-timer columns. My source of information was an article in an old Pagosa Springs SUN crediting Clee Woods with writing a story about Elfego.
Clee and his wife Betty lived in this area for some years. They were a husband and wife writing team. The purpose of the article was to let Pagosa folks who still remember Clee and Betty know he had sold an article about Elfego to "True Magazine." According to the article, Clee was a personal friend of Elfego.
The article never claimed that Elfego had ever been in Pagosa Springs. I have no reason to believe otherwise.
A couple of local people have since contacted me with information about Elfego. I learned that he was a real, larger-than-life New Mexico hero dating from that era following U.S. takeover of the former Mexican state.
One claimed to have seen several Disney TV episodes about the life of Elfego Baca. Another showed me an article from a gun magazine that described Elfego's single-handed shootout with practically a whole town.
The article described the shootout as "the longest sustained volley of gunfire ever directed at a single human being in the West."
Elfego Baca was the son of a hired cowboy. He was born at Socorro, N.M., but moved with his father to Kansas and back. The Baca family name was a proud one in New Mexico and included a member of the territorial legislature said to be responsible for forming and naming Lincoln County, the setting for Billy the Kid's escapades and the infamous Lincoln County Wars.
After returning to Socorro from Kansas, Elfego's father, Francisco, shot and killed two Anglo cowboys and was sentenced to prison, even though the shootings were probably self-defense.
Elfego began practicing with his father's Colt .45 while supporting himself by doing odd jobs. In October of 1884 in Frisco, a small town not far from Socorro, a cowboy riding for the huge Tom Slaughter outfit was giving the Mexican population a hard time. Even though too drunk to shoot straight, the cowboy was squeezing the trigger against every Mexican he saw.
Elfego happened to be in Frisco and he happened to have in his pocket a tin star he'd purchased through a mail order catalogue. After arresting the cowboy, a citizen's arrest you might say, Elfego marched him down to the town square and settled in for an all-night vigil. His plan was to take his captive to the Socorro jail the next morning.
When they discovered what was happening the cowboy's friends edged out of the bars and onto the dusty streets, armed with six-guns and a whole different plan for the cowboy's future. Undaunted, Elfego ordered the approaching mob to get out of town before he counted to three. When they continued to approach, he opened fire. One of his slugs found a scrambling cowboy's leg. Another slug dropped a horse, which fell on and killed its rider. The rest of the startled cowboys managed to reach cover before anything bad happened to them.
When daylight arrived, instead of making the dangerous trip to Socorro with his prisoner, Elfego turned him over to the local justice of the peace. A fine of $5 seemed to satisfy the magistrate's idea of balancing the scales of justice. When the fiver had passed from the cowboy to the judge, Elfego turned his prisoner loose. Little did the 19-year-old gun sharp realize that his adventures were just beginning.
When Elfego stepped through the door of the magistrate's office, his eyes opened wide, stimulated by the sight of a wall of armed cowboys; all with the single purpose of killing the brash young gunman. The silence must have been overwhelming as the 80 mounted gunmen waited to see who would make the first move. Finally, a cowboy whipped out a pistol and fired. The lead slug slipped harmlessly into the distance as Elfego ran for a nearby alley.
In the alley he crawled inside a jacal, a structure made with small, upright poles chinked with mud. A terrified woman and two small children already occupied the jacal. Elfego made them leave.
The townspeople rounded up all of the firepower they could find and turned it on the entrapped Elfego. Included among the attacking arsenal of weapons were at least two 50 caliber buffalo guns.
One of the cowboys rushed the shed, determined to get things over with. He was rewarded with two shots from Elfego's pistol, shots that left him unmoving and uncaring, dead on the street. After dragging the punctured body of their dead companion from the line of fire, the incensed cowboys unleashed volley after volley of hot lead into the jacal. Elfego survived each barrage as he picked off attackers one at a time. Finally, a rope was strung between buildings and blankets thrown across the rope effectively shielding the movements of the attackers. Moving anywhere in Elfego's line of sight had become too risky.
Another cowboy tried to approach Elfego while running in a crouched position, shielded by a piece of stove metal. A bullet slash across the skull greatly reduced the confidence this cowboy had in his shield. In fact, the cowboy lost all ambition for the project.
As darkness approached, the exasperated cowboys put their faith in a stick of dynamite. The first explosion knocked down half the building shielding Elfego. Pieces of the roof settled down about his head and shoulders. After 16 hours of constant shooting, the cowboys decided to rest until daylight before tallying up the results of their dynamite assault. Much to their chagrin, daylight revealed the bustling and very much alive form of Elfego, coolly cooking breakfast. And so the battle resumed and continued through the day.
Finally, a deputy sheriff arrived and, accompanied by the magistrate, approached Elfego. He discovered Elfego had survived because the jacal floor was about 18 inches below the ground. Elfego had kept his human parts attached and undamaged by hunkering down below ground level. By the time Elfego walked out of the shed, he had been under attack for 33 hours. At least 4,000 rounds of ammunition had been fired at the shed leaving 360 bullet holes in the door alone. Outside, four cowboys were dead, more than a dozen seriously wounded.
Two juries later found Elfego not guilty. His fame spread throughout the territory. He eventually served as county clerk, school superintendent, mayor of Socorro, deputy sheriff and county sheriff. He became a lawyer and district attorney, but lost races to be district judge and governor of New Mexico.
Elfego Baca died in 1945 at the age of 80 in Albuquerque, N.M.
Solve the problem, now
Once the shock and anger resulting from the recent dog attack on a young Pagosan subsides and outside news entities milking the sensationalism from the event for newspapers and broadcasts have gone home to communities they know and understand, we here will be left with a simple truth, and a problem to solve as quickly as we can.
Unless the fury transforms into reasoned and productive discourse, it is merely therapeutic; the suggestions of pundits viewing and commenting on the situation from afar are patronizing and self-serving - they produce no concrete alternatives.
We are left with the truth the attack is a tragic instance that illuminates a large and growing problem - one that existed before the incident and will continue to exist until we discover ways to deal with it.
The basis of our problem of animal control is the irresponsibility of some pet owners. The ways to deal with these people, their animals and the situation they create - increased animal control efforts and meaningful legal action against chronic offenders - are not simple, as many would suggest.
Here, then, are some ideas to prompt a dialogue.
There are several entities in the area that can figure in a solution: Archuleta County, the town of Pagosa Springs and the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association (since a large measure of the problem, including the recent attack, occurs within that association's member subdivisions).
The town has dealt well with animal control problems, using a diligent control effort backed by effective court action. It could be in a position to tender assistance to other programs if and when it is needed.
Archuleta County has animal control ordinances on the books and, as of Wednesday, has an officer, part of the sheriff's department, funded to do the work. The situation in the county is so grave, though, that one officer will not be able to handle it. The county could fund at least one more full-time position yet even this, at least in the near future, will not suffice.
The county court system must be willing to add muscle to citations and charges when they are levied.
The property owners association, despite what many assume, does not have the power to enforce county ordinances and has little real clout available to modify the behavior of offenders. It could, however, fund at least one full-time animal control officer who would act, in the case of vicious or violent animals, in concert with the county. The association could get back into the proactive animal control business, aggressively pursuing strays and the packs of animals that roam subdivisions, for the greater good of the organization's members.
There is yet another entity here that could play a role: the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs. It seems one key to solving the overall problem is within the society's grasp - if its members have the nerve to take an unusual step.
It has been suggested in the past that the society train and hire animal control officers who, acting cooperatively with law enforcement, could deal with the wide range of animal control issues in the county. The society could obtain the necessary funding for this activity from governmental entities and property owners' associations. Granted, most societies reject this idea, but it is worth considering here, given our dilemma.
Once the recent attack loses its news value and reporters move on to other places, other stories - once legal actions, if any, have been initiated, and loud voices are calmed - we must solve this problem. No doubt there are other ideas, other strategies than those mentioned here: let's develop and discuss them. We needed to act months ago; we need to act now.
It's time to renew resolutions
(This Dear Folks was first printed Dec. 28, 2000)
This week's edition finishes up another year.
Time for New Year resolutions.
The longer I'm at the SUN, the more I'm convinced that things don't change with the passing of time.
The passing of time simply gives things an opportunity to repeat themselves.
From putting together the weekly "25 Years Ago" column, I've noticed that the news and nuances in Pagosa Springs frequently recycle themselves on a quarter of a century time frame.
This recycling process came to mind last week while I was finishing out the last out-of-the-past bit from 1975.
A letter to the editor that appeared in the Dec. 25, 1975, edition assured editor emeritus Glen Edmonds that "I enjoy your paper, but I'm a little tired of reading which (local resident) had dinner in Chama, Chromo or whatever.
"By just reading other papers you could get some ideas that could make you a newspaper rather instead of Mrs. Murphy's cow and calf. Who gives a (darn) who went to Durango for the day? You need a fresh outlook for 1976. Try it, your customers like a change."
Fast forward to December 2000. Three weeks ago a letter to the editor expressed displeasure with the SUN's Web site. Actually it was an e-mail rather than a letter, but the writer raised some interesting questions.
One, what articles in the SUN are of most interest to most of the Web site "users"?
Two, are most of the SUN's Web site "readers" computer users living in other areas"?
Three, should all of the articles and columns that are published in the SUN be included, or posted on the SUN's Web site?
Four, are the folks who log onto the SUN's Web site readers or users?
Five, are the Web site users usual users or are they casual users?
Six, are the SUN's Web site users getting their money's worth or should they be charged a fee in order to access the SUN's Web site? (I'm told that during the almost three years the SUN has been on the Internet, a little more than 100,000 "hits" have been logged on the SUN's front page.)
It's highly likely that the writer of the e-mail is very familiar with Web sites. So there is no reason to doubt his assessment that the SUN's "rather limited" Web site "is becoming tedious."
However, it's hard to know what type of articles would be of greater interest to a greater number of the SUN's Web site users.
It's easy to know that including more color, digital pictures of the beauty of Pagosa Country, or including nothing but color digital pictures on the SUN's Web site would be the ultimate crowd pleaser.
It makes me realize how blessed and spoiled I am to live in Pagosa.
All I have to do is pay my annual escalating membership fee, in the form of property taxes, to the Archuleta County treasurer. In return, I am able to view, enjoy and experience the grandeur of Pagosa Country on a daily and nightly basis.
However, if I lived elsewhere, I too would be one of the thousands who log onto the SUN's Web site in order to maintain even an electronic connection with the people and places of Pagosa Country.
Hopefully users and readers alike will believe me when I say the weekly resolution of myself and the wonderful folks that I work with is to make each week's SUN better than the one from the previous week. As for the SUN's Web site, please be patient, we are still getting used to how it can best be used.
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 Jan. 3, 1913
The quality of ice being put up this winter is the best for many seasons. The nights have been and are yet extremely cold, there has been little snow and as a consequence the conditions have been right for a superior cutting.
The community telephone line to the Blanco Basin has now been completed and the residents of that section are enjoying telephone communication with the outside world. The line is really a forest service enterprise, the ranchmen helping on the work of building the line are being allowed to string their own wire on the poles.
The first parcels post package to reach Pagosa arrived last night.
75 years ago
Taken from SUN files of Jan. 28, 1928
Sheriff Frank Matthews has received word that the Chevrolet coupe, found abandoned at Pagosa Junction about Oct. 27th and believed to have been used by the would-be Cortez bank robbers, belongs to T.D. Beason, a respected citizen of Salt Lake City, from whom it was stolen on Oct. 14th.
It is reported that a total of over $200,000 has been taken from the Little Annie mining property at Summitville by the present lessees, Judge J.C. Wiley and Jack Pickens.
While at work at the Howard Sawmill at Altura Saturday, Perfecto Chavez was caught in a shaft and sustained a broken rib and numerous severe bruises, but is getting along all right.
50 years ago
Taken from SUN files of Jan. 2, 1953
With the end of 1952 and the starting of 1953 the future of Archuleta County and Pagosa Springs appears to be brighter than in former years. The past year has seen many changes and improvements in the town and county.
There has been considerable building in and about the town, which further reflects its continued growth. The Los Banos Hotel has undergone considerable remodeling and alterations and more is contemplated. There has also been a new store opened in the west end of town and a filling station is operated in connection with it. V.A. Poma built a new bulk plant station to serve the community and there is a Gambles Store in town.
25 years ago
Taken from SUN files of Dec. 29, 1977
Snow storms last weekend left nine inches of new snow on Wolf Creek Pass. Conditions for driving were bad for a few hours Friday night because of visibility and glare ice on the road.
Skiers by the numbers have been at Wolf Creek this week. Just over 1,000 were there on Monday, the number increased to over 1,300 on Tuesday and large crowds were reported Wednesday. The skiers are finding very fine skiing conditions, the weather has been mild, and all lifts are operating.
A long weekend holiday is ahead. It is the time of the year when driving can be hazardous, highways will be crowded, and all drivers are urged to drive carefully and to not drive while drinking.