January 23, 2003

Front Page

Health staff: Rift causing poor morale

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Now that some of the financial woes have been fixed, employees of the Upper San Juan Health Service District say it's time to turn the attention to other problems.

Morale is poor, they said at a Tuesday meeting of the district board, and the decline in esprit de corps is directly related to a growing rift between management and some employees.

"I just wonder if you all really realize what a problem we have here," said Norm Niesen, head of the EMT Association. "The problem is not the paramedics and the EMTs, the problem has been management."

About 25 people attended Tuesday's meeting. A handful of employees spoke.

Employee Terri Clifford said three paramedics are ready to quit and walk out the door if things don't change. She claimed the situation is similar at the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center.

"Things are not always as peachy as they appear on paper," she said. Administration problems have been ongoing and date back to before the current manager, Dee Jackson, was ever hired. However, she said, "We've never been treated as badly as we have been over the last few months."

Two specific clashes were addressed during the meeting. The first revolved around the hiring of an Emergency Medical Services operations manager, a position vacated in October.

The position, employees said, has been vacant too long. Someone should have been appointed in the interim, or the process to hire someone permanently should have been faster.

They also complained that the hiring process in recent days has moved too fast.

Jackson, the district manager, said when the position first opened, she looked at hiring an interim manager internally. However, she said, employees kept coming forward to say, "if you hire that person, we'll all quit." After that, she approached one other person from outside Pagosa. That didn't pan out, and she took over responsibilities herself, continuing to hold regular meetings with the paramedics to discuss issues.

Filling the position slipped to a back burner, but was brought back to the forefront when a paramedic complained, Jackson said. At that time, applicants who did not meet the basic criteria were culled and phone interviews with those remaining were scheduled for Jan. 23.

That surprised some screening committee members, including Niesen. He said the screening committee has never met to review the resumes or suggest questions for the interviews.

"There's no way I could do an interview properly without ever seeing the resumes," he said. He also asked to see the resumes of those candidates who were culled from the start.

Jackson said she had planned to copy the resumes for the committee members prior to the interviews but had not called an initial meeting because the committee includes people from other communities and physicians - all with busy schedules. It all came together quickly because trainings and a conflict of another committee member were filling up schedules through February, Jackson said.

Committee members in attendance agreed an advance meeting to discuss interview questions and candidates is essential. It is important to get the process right as well as move it forward, they argued.

The fate of a quick response vehicle was another specific grievance. Some in attendance were under the impression Jackson made a unilateral decision to remove a quick response vehicle from service, a decision she doesn't have the training to make, they said.

Jackson said the quick response vehicle was being used inappropriately for personal business. It was the inappropriate use she was addressing, not taking the vehicle completely out of service.

"You're only hearing a partial picture here tonight," Jackson said. "I think if you'd talk to some of the other employees who aren't here you'd discover this is not the majority opinion."

This wasn't the first time employees raised concerns before the board. Several medical center employees alluded to communication problems between current management and the staff in a board meeting in July. In November, several employees attended the meeting to complain again.

During the ensuing discussion, several possible solutions, including reorganizing the management flow chart, interviewing all employees to pinpoint areas of concern and using a newly-passed employee complaint policy that includes a mediation option, were considered.

Under the employee complaint policy approved earlier in the meeting, employees are encouraged to resolve issues as informally as possible. If informal discussion fails, a written complaint is filed with the employee's immediate supervisor, up to and including the district manager. If the complaint is with the district manager, it is filed with the chairman of the board.

From there, it can go on to include mediation or an audience before the board of directors until a satisfactory resolution is reached. The board decision on any such complaints is final.

That might work for individual disputes, Dr. Mark Wienpahl said. He suggested, in this case, the board consider interviewing all district employees to get a better feel for concerns.

Clifford said the board needs to consider revising the chain of command. Currently, all departments operate directly under the district manager, who operates at the pleasure of the board of directors.

Instead, Clifford said, the board might consider a flow chart that would start with the board of directors and go down to an emergency services operations manager, the district manager and the clinic office manager.

Each one of the managers would be responsible for overseeing the operations of their divisions and reporting back directly to the board.

"One person cannot possibly manage all the different departments effectively," Clifford said. "It would easily take over 100 hours a week."

After a long discussion and several motions, the board decided to consider reorganization of the district management structure as an agenda item at the next meeting and immediately begin looking into hiring a consultant to interview the employees and bring results back to the board. Several employees requested the consultant come from outside the area.

Board member Kay Grams cast the lone no vote concerning the motion to move forward with hiring a consultant.

"I think you're just trying to make this decision as hard as you can make it," she said. "I don't see why this board can't interview these employees. I don't see why we have to hire somebody to come in and solve our in-house problems."

 

Physicians will reduce on-call hours

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Family must come first, healthcare providers told the Upper San Juan Health Service District board Tuesday night.

As a result, doctors in Archuleta County will be experimenting with cutting back on the hours spent on call each week. It will mean some hours simply aren't covered.

Dr. Mark Wienpahl explained the decision to the board. To prepare for the long-range strategic planning process in the works, he said, providers from the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center and the Pagosa Family Medicine Center have been meeting regularly for several weeks.

The thought, Wienpahl said, was to present a cohesive plan for health care needs in the next several years. "We do take seriously our responsibility to bring suggestions to you," he said.

They started by identifying top priorities. "First is our commitment to our personal families, our physical and mental health," he said. Number two, is their commitment to their patients.

As a result, the physicians looked at defining a reasonable amount of time they could spend either at work or on call each week. They agreed on 60 hours per provider, per week.

"We discovered it would take six people on call to make it work," Wienphal said. Pagosa currently has just four full-time medical doctors.

To resolve the difference, the providers decided to try reserving certain times for family. During these times, Wienpahl said, no doctors will be on call, period. To make it easier, they selected specific times during the week - from 6 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Saturday and from 5 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday.

During these times, Wienpahl said, doctors will not be available for on-call purposes. People with medical concerns will have the option of dialing 9-1-1 to get help from Emergency Medical Services or driving themselves to Durango to see a physician.

"It will be a hardship to those patients who call us for a couple stitches or a screaming baby," he said. In most cases, those people can wait until morning to be seen.

Dr. Bob Brown said local paramedics would still have access to his home number and could call in the case of an extreme emergency.

The trial policy received general support from the district board.

"We need to take care of the physicians and their families the way they take care of us," board member Patty Tillerson said.

District board member Sue Walan asked if the doctors wanted the board to consider a resolution in support of their actions.

Brown declined and said the policy is only in its infancy and may change several times before becoming something more permanent.

In other business related to patient care, the district board passed a sliding fee scale to help people who don't have insurance and cannot qualify for any other assistance.

In order to qualify, patients must fill out an application and provide a 1040 tax form for the previous year and two current months of paycheck stubs.

Wienpahl asked if the policy could be retroactive, so that if a patient who might qualify had to come in suddenly and didn't have the required paperwork, that person could bring it in later and then have the price of the first visit reduced accordingly.

The board agreed with his suggestion and approved the scale with amendments.

The district has had a sliding fee scale for four or five years. In 2002, 12 people completed the application, qualified and utilized the program. The scale is based on income and the number of people living in the household, and an application is good for one year.

In his medical director's report, Wienpahl also mentioned that doctors are working on coordinating coding so that everyone is charging the same amount for the same services; discussing the possibility of extending medical center hours to 7 or 8 p.m.; discussing the possibility of offering treatment for Hepatitis C and working to get all the kinks out of operations with the new Mercy Medical Center laboratory.

"Right now they (the laboratory) are only open 8 to 5," he said. "We're in hopes that they're going to be able to offer extended services, but we're not there yet."

With a Mercy Medical Center laboratory up and running in Pagosa Springs, he said, some of the pressure might be taken off the medical center nurses, allowing them to work one-on-one with the providers.

That in turn, he said, might allow the doctors to eventually see more patients a day.

 

Fire danger could be worse than in 2002

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

"Unless we get eight to 10 feet of snow between now and springtime, we'll be in for a fire season that could be worse than last year's."

Those words were spoken by Karn Macht, coordinator of Upper San Juan Search and Rescue, during a collaborative work session Tuesday afternoon aimed at evaluating the 2003 area fire dangers.

The board of county commissioners, members of the Pagosa Fire Protection District and representatives from several county offices attended the meeting held in the Pagosa Springs Community Center.

Macht opened the meeting with a report stating that humidity levels in larger trees have recently fallen to 9 percent. Macht stated normal levels approach 25 percent, and said in the event of a fire, "We're not prepared to deal with any of that equipmentwise."

Chief Warren Grams, representing the fire district, indicated there are some uncertainties regarding the amount of funding the district will receive this year and expressed concern that the county does not have an adequate quick response vehicle capable of knocking down a fire in its early stages.

When Alden Ecker, county commission chairman, asked Grams if the county could anticipate the use of a fire patrol helicopter made available last year by federal funds from the U.S. Forest Service, Grams replied, "No, you cannot."

Grams explained monies available for aircraft patrol contracts this year are "iffy" since a large portion of such funds is being rechanneled to support the country's growing national security concerns.

Grams reiterated the county's need for its own response vehicle, saying that although the county and fire district have a mutual aid fire agreement, "if we're on a fire in Arboles, where does that leave (the county)?"

Bill Steele, county administrator, suggested Grams and Sheriff Tom Richards compile a list of fire-related wants and needs to present to the commissioners at a later date. "Put down what we had last year, what we should've had last year and what we expect to have this year," said Steele.

Richards pointed out that as serious as the fire danger is, the reality is that financial constraints will ultimately limit what the county can do to combat the threat. Steele responded by asking that the fire want list include any funding resources the county could pursue.

Commissioner Bill Downey then asked Grams what the county could expect to pay for a properly equipped response vehicle. Grams estimated the cost at around $70,000, but weighed that cost against the alternative, stating, "I think it would be wise to spend $70,000 on a vehicle rather than $70 million on a wildfire."

Macht echoed Grams' sentiment, but noted the eligibility for funds is proportional to the destruction caused by wildfires in a certain area. "Unfortunately, the way it works, we can't get any real money until we have a big fire."

Speaking on behalf of county planning staff, Marcus Baker, associate county planner, expressed concerns that perhaps not enough preventive measures were being considered during the discussion.

Baker said although he did not yet have enough data to do so, he felt it would be advantageous to identify high-risk areas within the county and take appropriate measures to counteract the possible threat of fire.

Baker raised the question of enforcing building moratoriums in such areas in a worst-case scenario, saying, "Of course, I'm talking extremes here." Baker then said measures could be as simple as those imposed last year, such as a restriction on lawn watering.

Members of the county road and bridge department then recommended purchasing global positioning systems in order to enhance their response time to county fires, citing the fact that the handheld units are not overly expensive.

Macht and Richards then entertained the idea of implementing an early fire ban in high-risk areas only, providing they could identify such areas ahead of time.

At meeting's end, the general consensus among all parties was that ongoing actions should be taken to upgrade the county's firefighting capabilities while maintaining a strong working relationship with the fire district.

East side sewer line extension approved

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Pagosa Springs trustees, serving as the Pagosa Springs Sanitation General Improvement District board, voted Jan. 17 to move ahead with an approximately three-mile sewer line extension despite bids above engineering estimates.

It means subsidizing the project to the tune of about $130,000, but the only alternatives were reducing the project's scope or cutting it completely.

"I think it makes a lot of sense to bite the bullet and do it now," Mayor Ross Aragon said during the discussion.

It was the second time bids for the project along U.S. 160 east of town had been advertised. On the first go-around, back in August, the lowest bid with alternates came in over $200,000 above engineering estimates.

This time, with the addition of some wider easements in critical areas, the gap narrowed. Engineering estimates put the project cost at $634,020.50. The low bid, from Rocky Mountain Septic, came in at $690,412.

About $73,900 in alternate bid items would probably be needed, Town Administrator Jay Harrington said. Added to that, are engineering costs, $70,000 of which the district has already invested in the project, $15,000 in construction layout, $22,000 in construction review and $6,000 in contract administration. That brought the total estimated project cost to $877,300, a total that surpassed the funding originally set aside by the board.

"Our original approach was that the district wouldn't subsidize this project," Harrington said. Instead the U.S. 160 east sewer extension project would be funded through tap fees paid by landowners, a $300,000 grant from the state health department and a $200,000 low-interest loan from the water and power authority. Payments on the 20-year loan were set up to be covered by a surcharge on the landowners' monthly bill. Total funding based on those sources rested between $650,000 and $740,000, depending on the number of tap fees collected.

Because of some water quality issues in low-lying areas and the future prospects for other state grants, Harrington advised the board to consider subsidizing the project to push it ahead in 2003. Funds for the subsidy could be taken from the district capital improvements fund with the deficit made up with future tap fees.

From there, the board looked at two options, reducing the scope of the project by scaling back at the eastern end, requiring a $50,000 subsidy, or going ahead with the full scope of the extension to the tune of a $130,000 subsidy.

Discussions with the landowners affected by the project drew mixed reviews, Harrington said. The lone landowner to speak at the meeting was in favor of going ahead with the extension in its entirety.

"The issue is whether to do it today at a higher level subsidy or tomorrow at a higher per unit cost for a smaller project," Harrington said.

Board member Darrel Cotton asked a representative from Davis Engineering what it would cost in a year if they cut back now.

"It would be pretty much a wash," Mike Davis said. "The unit price would probably go down, but the boring cost might go up."

"I think we should get all under one contract and get it done," Cotton concluded. The four board members at the meeting voted unanimously to move forward with the entire three-mile project.

Harrington said construction will most likely begin in the next few months. Because of Willow Flycatcher habitat that could be affected by this project, some of the work must be done prior to May 15, so it will be important for the contractors to start as early as weather allows.

The extension will run from the end of the current line east to about Day Lumber.

 

Weather

Date High Low Precipitation

Type Depth Moisture

1/15

45

9

-

-

-

1/16

37

2

-

-

-

1/17

41

0

-

-

-

1/18

43

6

-

-

-

1/19

45

9

-

-

-

1/20

44

10

-

-

-

1/21

47

12

-

-

-

Dry weather expected through Sunday

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Not a trace of new snow descended upon area lawns and rooftops last week, and it looks as if unseasonably warm temperatures and blue skies will continue to call Pagosa Country home through at least Sunday.

According to Norvan Larson, a forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction, a stubborn high pressure ridge is seated over the Four Corners while the winds aloft are pushing storm systems far to the north.

"We'll see a minimal chance for snow early next week," said Larson, "but nothing significant."

According to Larson, morning clouds today should depart by this afternoon and high temperatures should range from the low to mid 40s. Nighttime skies should remain clear and lows should hover around 15.

Friday's forecast calls for plentiful sunshine and highs in the 40s. Lows should dip into the teens.

Saturday and Sunday should be near carbon copies of one another as the forecast indicates sunny conditions with highs in the mid 30s to mid 40s and lows in the teens.

A 20-percent chance for snow is included in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday. Highs are again expected to be in the mid 30s to mid 40s, while lows should range from the low 20s to single digits.

The slight chance for snow remains in Wednesday's forecast, with highs approaching 40 and lows the teens.

The average high temperature last week was 43; the average low was 7. The lowest temperature reading for last week, zero, was recorded Friday morning. The highest reading, 47, was recorded Tuesday afternoon.

Despite the lack of new snow, Wolf Creek Ski area reports a summit depth of 64 inches and a midway depth of 52 inches. The area's year-to-date snowfall amounts to 183 inches.

Snowpack in the Upper San Juan Basin, as of Jan. 22, was measured at 81 percent of average.

Streamflow in the San Juan River south of town was measured at 43 cubic feet per second Jan. 22. The mean streamflow for that date, based on 66 years of record, is 55 cubic feet per second.

 

 Sports Page
Parks & Rec

Public's ideas, questions for site development heard

By Joe Lister Jr.

SUN Columnist

A public meeting held Jan. 15 in Town Hall had over 35 interested citizens in attendance, with parks and recreation staff and a design team from EDAW of Fort Collins fielding questions from the public.

Neighbors, sports enthusiasts and concerned citizens tossed out a number of questions regarding plans for sports complex development on South 5th Street.

Questions covered everything from where the restrooms would be to the River Walk tie-in, from skateboard park problems to the number of fields and locations.

All questions were appreciated and pretty much answered by the limited amount of acreage at the site for development and the shape of the property.

Parking issues were helped by the fact the school and town park could share parking for shared facilities and that the 16 acres should be used for turf and areas of recreation, not a paved parking lot.

The master plan, when finished, should include a sketch of the 16 acres and surrounding properties the town owns. A recreation survey completed in 2000 indicated the main needs were for soccer and softball/baseball fields; however, the need for other park amenities, such as a skateboard park, ice skating facility, swimming pool, amphitheater and other amenities will be included in the master plan, but may be built in phases because of cost restrictions.

The master plan will give us a road map to follow in which we can start a financial support plan through budget, as well as grant applications, and the dreams of a new community sports complex could become a reality.

Keep informed about future meetings by reading this column or calling 264-4151, Ext. 231.

Youth basketball

In 14 game days, 42 games have been played in both youth basketball divisions.

We are seeing the league more evenly matched and all participants are receiving the amount of playing time promised. Most feedback from parents and participants has been positive.

We have some new rules that have been hard for some to get used to. The coaches and the referees have been challenged to enforce the rules and to adapt to change.

Change is very difficult but all coaches, referees and competitive parents must try to understand that the rules changes are made for the following reasons: more equal playing time, more evenly matched teams and more fun for participants.

If we keep asking the kids if they are having fun, and the answer is "yes," then the rules changes and coaching strategies are working toward an improved league.

Thank you coaches for all the volunteer time everyone has put forth. Without you the opportunities would not be there for the 110 athletes we are giving the chance to learn the game of basketball.

National session

A national revenue and management school in Estes Park will be hosted by National Recreation and Parks Association. Pagosa Springs is a member of both state and national boards which have schools to keep us informed on state and national trends, along with classes specific to the parks and recreation field.

I will attend the 26th annual school Feb. 1-6. Topics taught by nationally-known instructors will include Leadership, Now and for the Next Generation; Partnerships and Innovative Revenue; Win the Customer, Not the Argument; Master Planning, Communicating, Not Mediation; and many more two-hour courses.

In the past these courses have been very beneficial to me and I look forward to continued learning. It also serves as a great resource for networking with other Colorado towns. If I ever have questions about something we are dealing with, I can call someone who has had similar problems. We have a network of directors who are great reference sources for each other.

 

Boys stun sixth-ranked Ignacio 61-46

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

The tension level was high Tuesday night inside the packed Ignacio High School gymnasium as a standing-room only crowd settled in for an Intermountain League battle between Coach Jim Shaffer's varsity squad and the host Bobcats.

Pagosa had a large contingent of boisterous fans on hand for the contest, perhaps a greater number than their sixth-ranked adversaries, and once again they rattled the rafters with enthusiasm as the game got underway.

Ignacio controlled the tip, but failed to convert. Pagosa's first possession resulted in a charging call on Pirate junior Clayton Spencer, but the Bobcats were stymied again in the offensive zone and the Pirates took advantage on their next possession, getting two free throws from Jason Schutz after the senior was hammered on a baseline drive.

Ignacio's standout guard, 6-1 Andre Mattox, answered with a lone free throw at the seven-minute mark and the Bobcats trailed 2-1.

The pace picked up two minutes in, and Pirate junior David Kern nailed a free throw after he was fouled on a strong drive to put Pagosa up 3-1. Bobcat center Laramy Miller responded, knotting the score at 3-3 with a deuce from the block.

Three consecutive Pagosa baskets, two from Ryan Goodenberger and one from Brandon Charles, extended the visitors' lead to 9-3. Mattox scored for Ignacio, but the Pirates' Caleb Forrest converted a left-handed layup to keep his team's lead at six, 11-5.

Fouls by Spencer and Forrest forced Shaffer to sit the pair and run a four-guard offense for the remainder of the period and the absence of height momentarily helped the Bobcats' cause.

Four straight points from Mattox cut the lead to two before Goodenberger drained a trey with just over a minute left. Kern drew a charge from Ignacio's Miller with eight seconds left, and although Charles' three at the buzzer was off the mark, Pagosa led 14-9 at the end of one.

Ignacio's Steven Huerta converted a deuce early in the second before a steal by Schutz and the resulting trey from Caler put the Pirates back on top by six, 17-11.

The furious pace continued as both teams raced up and down the floor and exchanged baskets. Pirate junior Coy Ross hit a turnaround jumper in the lane that was followed by a trey from Mattox to pull Ignacio within three midway through the stanza, 21-18.

With Forrest and Spencer still on the bench, it looked as if Ignacio would gain momentum. But Pagosa's Brandon Samples' hustle sparked strong play from the reserves and Caler caught fire for the Pirates, scoring seven straight points down the stretch as Pagosa went up by 10. Mattox got two for Ignacio, but the Pirates went to the locker room up 28-20.

The Pirates came out strong in the third, getting baskets from Spencer, Charles and Forrest early on to go up 34-20. Mad scrambles to the floor for loose balls and fierce rebounding battles were the norm throughout the quarter as the Pirates held the lead.

Mattox seemed to be the only Bobcat capable of putting points on the board for Ignacio and, with Kern shadowing him every step of the way, none came easy. Junior Pirate Ty Faber slithered to the floor on several occasions to regain loose balls for Pagosa.

The defining play of the game came with three minutes left in the period. With his team leading 40-31, Spencer took a lead pass after breaking free downcourt and thundered home a jam that seemed to shake the gym's foundation. Pirate fans erupted; Ignacio fans looked on in dismay.

The Pirates outhustled their foe in the final minutes of the third and took a 48-35 lead into the fourth.

The Pirate defense stifled the Bobcats throughout the fourth, hitting the floor to force jump balls and contesting every shot Ignacio could manage. The Bobcats unraveled, and Shaffer instructed the black and gold to spread the floor and milk the clock.

With Schutz, Forrest and Spencer on the floor together, Ignacio could find no solution to Pagosa's domination on the boards. The Bobcats' attempt to press was futile and the Pirates led by double digits the remainder of the game.

Even though the Pirates missed several front ends of the bonus in the quarter, the outcome was never in doubt after the halfway point.

With crimson and white giving way to more and more bleacher brown in the home stands, Forrest fed Spencer for a layup at the buzzer, and the Pirates took their second IML win 61-46.

Spencer was leading scorer for Pagosa with 12, followed by Forrest and Goodenberger with 11, Caler 10 and Charles eight. Charles led in the assist category with six. Forrest grabbed nine rebounds; Schutz pulled in seven of Pagosa's 43.

Shaffer was satisfied after the win, his team's 12th against one loss, even though he felt it hadn't been a thing of beauty.

"It was kind of ugly, nothing real pure about it. The offense didn't execute well, but the defense held," said Shaffer.

"Good teams find a way to win, and we just battled, hung in there and played as well as we could ," he added.

Shaffer gave the Pirate reserves good marks, saying "Caler did a great job, as did Ross, and Samples was working hard out there. Kern is our defensive specialist, and he frustrated the heck out of Mattox tonight."

When asked if the victory makes the Pirates a top-10 team in Class 3A, Shaffer responded, "I don't know what it makes us, but it's only Jan. 21 so it really doesn't matter. We're already thinking about Bayfield, so it's not that important right now."

The Pirates trek to Bayfield tomorrow night and will look to stay in the IML driver's seat with a win over the Wolverines. Game time is set for 7:30.

Summary

Scoring: Forrest 4-8, 3-4, 11; Goodenberger 5-9, 0-0, 11; Schutz 1-4, 2-2, 4; Charles 3-7, 2-2, 8; Spencer 6-10, 0-3, 12; Kern 0-2, 1-3, 1; Faber 1-2, 0-0, 2; Caler 4-6, 0-0, 10; Ross 1-3, 0-0, 2. Three-point goals: Caler 2, Goodenberger 1. Fouled out: None. Team assists: Pagosa Springs 20. Team rebounds: Pagosa Springs 43. Total fouls: Pagosa Springs 18.

 

Pirate boys ground Falcons 53-29 in IML opener

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

The reverberating war whoops and the excited, steady rumble emanating from the black and gold-speckled bleachers inside the Pagosa Springs High School gymnasium Saturday night signaled the beginning of what many fans had been anticipating for weeks — Intermountain League varsity basketball action.

Hundreds of Pagosa faithful turned out for the 7:30 p.m. boys' matchup with the Centauri Falcons; many had taken time to upgrade the wardrobe to a new level of Pirate attire.

Fans of all ages were adorned with headbands, eye patches, and matching black and gold face paint, leaving no doubt they were ready to assume the role as sixth man for Coach Jim Shaffer's squad.

After forming a living labyrinth along the home sideline, from which the Pirates emerged near half court, the fans' only sign of waning interest was when they took a few minutes to peruse the newspaper while the announcer read the starting lineup for the opposing Falcons.

Then it was back to controlled mania for the opening tip and subsequent low-post basket by Pirate sophomore Caleb Forrest to put Pagosa on the board first with a 2-0 lead.

Centauri's Michael Brady countered with a trey that was answered by another Forrest layup and an interior field goal by Pagosa's Clayton Spencer to put the Pirates up 6-3 as the first-quarter clock approached the five-minute mark.

The Falcons' Vicente Govea then sank a pair of free throws to narrow the gap to one before Centauri teammate Jordan Norton scored on a drive to put his team on top 7-5.

Forrest attacked the Falcon defense seconds later and completed a three-point play to regain the lead at 9-7. Centauri would not score again in the quarter, and although their press momentarily stalled the Pirate offense, free throws from Forrest and Pirate senior Brandon Charles Pagosa gave Pagosa an 11-7 edge at the break.

Forrest opened the second period with a deuce off an assist from senior Jason Schutz before Centauri free throws and a questionable charging foul on Forrest turned the tide in favor of the visitors. They trailed by only three with two minutes gone in the period, 13-10.

Spurred by the incessant supportive chants from the home crowd, the Pirates fought back with a basket by Forrest that was followed by a layup from Schutz off a pinpoint Charles pass that put Pagosa up 17-10.

Shaffer's squad swarmed to the ball in the defensive zone, contesting every shot attempt by their foe and snaring rebounds on every resulting miss. The Falcons were helpless to overcome the pressure and the Pirates took advantage.

In the waning moments of the half, the Pirates got key baskets as Schutz fed junior Ty Faber for two and Charles sank five consecutive free throws that extended the lead to 23-12 with six minutes gone.

A lone basket by Centauri, followed by field goals from Schutz and Spencer resulted in a 27-14 halftime score in favor of the home team.

A trey from Charles started Pagosa scoring in the third, whipping the crowd into more of a frenzy and spelling the beginning of the end for Centauri. Forrest converted for two, then Pirate junior Ryan Goodenberger broke loose down the lane for two more and Pagosa led by 20, 34-14.

Centauri cut the lead to 18 with a field goal, but a ferocious attack on the offensive boards resulted in two consecutive baskets by Forrest to stretch the margin to over 20 with just over a minute left in the stanza.

With the clock winding down, Charles calmly dribbled across the time line, stepped up to the arc and drained a three as the roar from the crowd drowned out the buzzer at period's end. Centauri managed just two field goals in the period; Pagosa led 41-18.

A Pagosa steal leading to a Schutz free throw put the Pirates up 42-20 in the fourth. Schutz scored again minutes later, and Charles hit another three to seal the victory with Pagosa leading 47-20.

Shaffer let everyone in on the fun from that point on, pulling the starters midway through the period. Late baskets from Pagosa's Otis Rand and Coy Ross pushed the Pirate scoring total over the half-century mark, and the final score read 53-29.

Forrest led all scorers for the second consecutive night with 20, followed by Charles with 13. Charles was first in assists with seven, and Schutz second with four

Shaffer acknowledged the support from the crowd following the victory. "It's nice to see some school spirit, especially with this being the league opener," said Shaffer.

Shaffer also had praise for the Pirates' defensive effort, saying, "I think this was by far our best game defensively. I thought we did an excellent job against their pressure."

Shaffer lauded the overall effort of Schutz, calling the 6-6 senior's ability to adopt the role of an assist maker when needed "a crucial element" with respect to the win.

When asked if he thought the convincing win over Centauri would get the attention of other IML opponents, especially sixth-ranked Ignacio, Shaffer smiled modestly, shrugged and said, "I guess we'll find out Tuesday night."

The win pushed the Pirates' record to 12-1 for the season, 1-0 in IML play. The Pirates travel to Bayfield for another IML battle tomorrow night and will take the court at 7:30.

Summary

Scoring: Forrest 9-14, 2-4, 20; Goodenberger 1-2, 0-0, 2; Schutz 3-9, 2-3, 8; Charles 3-9, 4-5, 13; Spencer 2-4, 0-0, 4; Faber 1-1, 0-0, 2; Rand 1-2, 0-1, 2; Caler 0-1, 0-0, 0; Ross 1-1, 0-0, 2. Three-point goals: Charles 3. Fouled out: Kern. Team assists: Pagosa Springs 19. Team rebounds: Pagosa Springs 28. Total fouls: Pagosa Springs 16.

 

Six Pirates medal; four put holds on Alamosa titles

By Karl Isberg

Staff Writer

Pirate wrestling coach Dan Janowsky was impressed.

"I don't think I've ever seen a final round of a tournament where every kid we had in the round won his match."

Janowsky referred to the four Pirates who made the finals of the Alamosa Invitational Saturday and emerged from the competition as the champions of their weight classes.

Darren Hockett took the title at 103 pounds, Michael Martinez at 112, Mike Maestas at 125 and Kory Hart at 140.

Two other Pirates medaled at the tournament - Cliff Hockett at 135 and Aaron Hamilton at 145 - each capturing third place in his class.

The Pirates took sixth in the 10-team tourney. "We were in third going into the 171-pound finals, but two teams overtook us," said the coach.

Darren Hockett continued his streak at 103. The sophomore earned a 20-5 technical fall over a Broomfield wrestler in the first round of competition. Hockett then forged a major decision, 20-10, over an opponent from Douglas County. The championship came with a 14-10 decision over a wrestler from Aztec, N.M.

Martinez continued to win following his return to the team after the Christmas break. The junior decisioned Alamosa's 112-pounder, 16-4. Martinez then earned a 13-1 major decision over an athlete from Pueblo East before taking the title with a 5-1 win over a Montrose opponent.

"Michael's final match was one of the best I've seen him wrestle," said Janowsky, "and it was one of the toughest matches in the finals at the tournament."

Maestas' performance was unique: he managed to win each of his four matches at Alamosa with a technical fall - a margin of at least 15 points. First down was a wrestler from Douglas county, 24-8. Next down, at 18-3, was an opponent from Rocky ford. Maestas defeated a Broomfield wrestler 19-4 then took the championship at 125 by a score of 20-5 over a wrestler from Pueblo East.

Hart had three decisive wins on his way to the championship at 140. The junior beat an opponent from Thunderridge 9-2, then defeated an athlete from Pueblo East 8-1. Hart, recovered from a mid-week illness, pinned a Centaurus wrestler just over halfway through the first period of the championship match.

Clifford Hockett lost his first match of the tournament at 135 then came back very strong, stringing together three pins - over Aztec, Alamosa and Pueblo East - to capture third place.

Hamilton defeated a Rocky Ford wrestler 6-3 then dropped a decision to Douglas County. The junior rebounded with a 6-5 decision over an Alamosa wrestler and a 12-5 win over a Pueblo East opponent to secure third.

Several other Pirates won matches at the Alamosa tournament.

Zeb Gill was 2-2 at 152, with wins over Alamosa and Thunder Ridge.

Clayton Mastin (160) scored a victory over a wrestler from Pueblo East.

Matt Lattin (171) beat an Alamosa opponent.

"This was a good tournament for us," said Janowsky. "Even in the matches we lost, for the most part we went toe-to-toe with our opponents."

The Pirates seem to be picking up steam and achieving at a level Janowsky expected at season's start.

"We're showing a lot of improvement," said the coach. "The guys are changing some habits and doing better. We need to cement some things over the next month."

The Pirates return to Intermountain League action tonight when they entertain Centauri, one of the higher-rated Class 3A teams in the state.

"I'm really expecting a tight dual," said Janowsky. The coach and his charges are "looking forward to the dual. We're getting better. If we can continue to roll, we'll be happy. With our forfeits, a dual doesn't really reveal what we've got. It won't be like regional and state tournaments, but it will give us a chance to see each kid."

The dual meet with the Falcons begins in the Pagosa Springs High School gym at 6 p.m.

The Pirates travel to Ignacio for the Ignacio Invitational Saturday. That tournament begins at 10 a.m.

A return trip to Ignacio Jan. 28 will pit the Pirates and Bobcats in a 6 p.m. IML dual meet.

 

Pirates dismantle Bloomfield Bobcats 79-35

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Prior to the opening tip of Friday night's boys varsity game with visiting Bloomfield, Pirate Coach Jim Shaffer expressed moderate concern that his squad might be looking past the Bobcats in anticipation of the Saturday night Intermountain League battle with Centauri.

The fear proved unfounded as the Pirates dismantled the overmatched opposition throughout the course of the contest.

After falling behind 3-0 in the opening minute, the Pirates got consecutive baskets from senior Jason Schutz and junior Clayton Spencer to go up 4-3 with six minutes and 30 seconds left in the period. The Pirates would never trail again.

Pagosa, behind the low-post firepower of Schutz, Spencer and sophomore Caleb Forrest, and relentless defense of guards Brandon Charles and Ryan Goodenberger, pulled away from Bloomfield in the remaining minutes of the period.

When Pirate junior guard Ty Faber drained a trey to put Pagosa up 18-4 with just over three minutes on the clock, the game was effectively out of reach for the Bobcats. At the end of the first, Pagosa led 21-6.

Things only got worse for the visitors early in the second period as Forrest completed a three-point play to put his team on top 23-6. Junior David Kern scored the next two baskets for Pagosa, and after a solitary free throw from Bloomfield's Frankie Childers, the Pirates led 28-7.

While Bloomfield could manage only an occasional field goal or free throw, the scoring assault continued for Pagosa with everyone contributing. Pagosa junior Jeremy Caler converted a feed from Spencer and Pagosa led 34-13 at the five-minute mark.

Shaffer kept the Pirates fresh by substituting frequently, and it seemed everyone would get a piece of the scoring action as the Bobcats' deficit grew. The Pirates left the court at halftime up 44-19.

The third quarter was an exercise in statistics for Pirate scorekeepers as all of Shaffer's squad got into the books one way or another. Caler nailed a trey at the 4:40 mark to extend the growing Pirate lead; the scoreboard read 50-25.

Meanwhile, the Bobcats' offense continued to sputter and, after two free throws by Pagosa's Otis Rand in the final seconds, they found themselves trailing 62-28 at quarter's end.

With all five Pagosa starters on the bench in the fourth, some might have expected Bloomfield to narrow the gap; it didn't happen. Faber and Caler smoothly directed the Pirate offense, dishing out assists and scoring on returned favors from their teammates.

Bloomfield left Pirate junior Casey Belarde all alone outside the arc with just under three minutes left and the resulting three put the Pirates up by 36, 69-33. Junior Pirate Coy Ross, repeatedly fouled on strong interior moves to the basket, converted several free throws down the stretch, including Pagosa's final point of the game.

When the horn sounded, the Pirates had scored 79 points, the Bobcats, 35. The lopsided victory raised the home team's record to 11-1.

Every Pirate played and scored except junior Brandon Samples, who was held out of action because of a minor ankle sprain. Forrest led all scorers with 20, followed by Spencer with 18 and Faber with 13.

Shaffer said after the game that the outcome was not totally unexpected, and while he never looks past an opponent, the Pirates were indeed anxious to begin Intermountain League play.

"To be honest with you, we spent all week preparing for Centauri," said Shaffer, adding, "We didn't play great tonight — at times we did — but when you're up by 20 or 30 points its sometimes hard to maintain concentration."

The game, the Pirates' third in less than a week, gave Shaffer the opportunity to rest his squad in preparation for the following night's duel with league rival Centauri. "They're fine," said Shaffer, "but (Centauri) should be a closer game for sure."

The Pirates play at Bayfield tomorrow in another IML contest. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

Summary

Scoring: Forrest 8-14, 4-7, 20; Goodenberger 0-4, 2-2, 2; Schutz 4-9, 1-2, 9; Charles 0-2, 0-0, 0; Spencer 5-7, 8-8, 18; Kern 2-3, 0-0, 4; Faber 3-5, 6-6, 13; Rand 0-0, 2-2, 2; Caler 2-5, 0-0, 5; Ross 0-3 3-4, 3. Three-point goals: Caler 1, Faber 1, Belarde 1. Fouled out: none. Team assists: Pagosa Springs 17. Team rebounds: Pagosa Springs 38. Total fouls: Pagosa Springs 18.

 

Pirate grapplers pin Bayfield to the mats

By Karl Isberg

Staff Writer

Pirate wrestlers forged their second dual meet victory of the new year Thursday, winning nine of 11 matches on the way to a resounding 55-18 Intermountain League victory over Bayfield.

The win put the Pirates one step up on a league championship decided in a regular season format consisting of one dual meet with each league opponent.

Following forfeits at 103 and 119 pounds Thursday, the Pirates proceeded to trap and defeat one Wolverine after another.

Aaron Hamilton faced Bayfield's Cameron Cundiff at 145 pounds in one of the tightest matches of the evening. Hamilton and Cundiff battled to a 1-1 tie after two periods, each scoring with escapes. Hamilton scrambled out of jeopardy several times during the match and, with 14.6 seconds left, took Cundiff down to score the 3-1 decision.

At 152, Zeb Gill put on a clinic, playing the takedown game with Ben Barovier. The Pirate got the initial takedown and a three-point near fall before allowing Barovier to his feet. Another takedown put Gill ahead 7-1 at the first buzzer. The tactic extended through the second period which ended with the Pirate ahead 15-4. Three third-period takedowns gave Gill the impressive 21-6 technical fall.

Marcus Rivas produced one of the better moments at the meet, staging a dramatic turnaround to win his match at 189. Rivas looked to be in trouble against Shawn Melrose, going down 2-0 on a first period takedown then finding himself on his back and in trouble in the second period. Rivas refused to submit, however, and with tremendous effort reversed Melrose then put the Wolverine's shoulders to the mat to nail the fall with 30 seconds left in the second period.

Craig Lucero took the mat against a bigger opponent at 275. Lucero, normally at 215, battled with Cameron Kling and had a 2-1 lead after the first period. The heavyweights went scoreless in the second period and Kling tied the score with an escape at the start of the final period in regulation. The match went into a second overtime and Lucero outlasted the Wolverine, getting a 3-2 decision when Kling was called for locking his hands.

Darren Hockett moved up to 112 from his accustomed weight at 103 to take on Bayfield's Quin Overy. Hockett had no trouble with the Wolverine, taking Overy down repeatedly and letting him up for another shot. Hockett led 12-1 after the first period. Through with the game, Hockett turned Overy in the second period and got the fall with 52 seconds elapsed.

Bayfield forfeited at 119.

Mike Maestas kept the train rolling with a 22-6 tech fall over Joseph Vajdic. Maestas controlled his opponent throughout the match, taking Vajdic down and releasing him, scoring at a 2-1 pace, throwing in some near falls for good measure. Maestas led 13-2 after one and 19-5 after two. An escape and a takedown in the final period ended the diversion.

Justin Bloomquist added six points to the team total when he pinned Bayfield's Chris Simons in a match at 130 pounds. Bloomquist had an impressive 9-2 lead after one period, getting three takedowns and a three-point near fall. The wrestlers started the second period in the neutral position; Bloomquist took Simons down and pinned him with 24 seconds left.

Six more team points went on the Pirates' side of the scoreboard as Cliff Hockett pinned Chris Howlett in a battle at 135 pounds. The Pirate senior had no trouble with Howlett in the first period, forging a 7-1 advantage with two takedowns and three back points. Hockett pinned Howlett 40 seconds into the second period.

Kory Hart was the final Pirate on the mat Thursday. Hart faced Dan Edwards at 140 and had to contend with an injury to his hand and an opponent who made a determined effort to avoid bringing the fight to the aggressive Pirate grappler.

Hart got a takedown in the first period; Edwards escaped and the period ended 2-1. Hart escaped to start the second period then pursued a reluctant Edwards the remainder of the period. Edwards started down in the third but Hart rode the Wolverine to the buzzer for the 3-1 win.

Clayton Mastin (160) Matt Lattin (171) and James Martinez (215) wrestled well in their matches but were unable to prevail over their opponents.

"I was pleased with the way our guys did the job," said Coach Dan Janowksy. "I anticipated a little rougher dual, but our guys handled the situation well. It was good to get that first league dual meet win under the belt. I anticipate our dual with Centauri (tonight at the home gym) will be a lot tougher."

The Pirates square off tonight against the Falcons, with varsity action set to begin at 6 p.m. Centauri is currently one of the top-ranked Class 3A teams in the state and the evening should be a good test of the Pirates' mettle.

Saturday, Pagosa travels to Ignacio for the Ignacio Invitational. Start time for the tournament is 10 a.m.

The Pirates fight another IML dual meet at Ignacio Jan. 28, battling the Bobcats at 6 p.m.

 

Ladies bid for upset is moonstruck

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

There was a full moon hanging in the eastern sky as Pagosa fans left the gymnasium in Ignacio Tuesday night.

That sight, in an area surrounded by the Southern Ute Reservation, might have been the answer.

Pagosa Lady Pirates and their fans were looking for some explanation, some reason their heroics were overshadowed in the last second.

The full moon, it has been said in Indian lore, is an omen of the spirits of the skies watching over the faithful.

Whatever the reason, Pagosa's valiant effort to upset the home-standing Ignacio Lady Bobcats went glimmering in the light of the moon on a 60-foot prayer shot with just two seconds left on the clock in overtime.

Carol Lee Jefferson was the spirit killer in the minds of Pagosa fans. Her desperation heave was true to the nets for a 60-59 victory over the Lady Pirates in a seesaw contest which could have gone either way.

In fact, with four seconds remaining in the extra period, Shannon Walkup had given Pagosa a 59-57 lead and it appeared they had come back from adversity.

Ignacio coach Duane Odoms called time out and the clock, which was down to two seconds, was readjusted to read four seconds remaining.

After the timeout, Pagosa went into a defensive position to stop any Ignacio advance at the half court line.

Jefferson never got that far.

She took the inbounds pass, turned and launched her game-winner.

Bedlam on the Ignacio side; disappointment and tears followed on the Pirate sideline.

It was a touch-and-go contest throughout with both teams building and then losing leads.

Neither would give an inch.

With Walkup on a scoring binge for the first time in several games, Pagosa built an eight-point lead early in the second period, after trailing 15-14 at the quarter break.

But senior veteran Lady Bobcat Katie Whiteskunk powered her home team back into the lead at 31-30 at the halftime break.

Walkup and Whiteskunk both had nine points in the first half and Jefferson set the stage for her miracle shot with two first quarter treys. She eventually would have three of five from three-point range and a total of 16 for the game.

Walkup finished the night with 21 and Whiteskunk with 14.

In the 16-16 second quarter, Pirate sophomore forward Bri Scott hit the first of her two treys.

Keying several first half rallies for Pagosa was the inside play of 6-2 senior center Caitlyn Jewell who had five first quarter points and added three in the second quarter.

Stephanie Rivera countered with seven for Ignacio in the first half. Marsha Rivera and Jen Ruybal each had three and Shannon Olguin chipped in with a single field goal.

The second half opened with Pagosa building a lead ranging periodically from four to six points.

It was structured on the inside shooting of Jewell who registered six in the period. Walkup added five, three from the foul stripe while Scott and Mollie Honan each had a single filed goal. Pagosa led 45-39 at the quarter break .

The Bobcats kept clawing away at the lead and tied the game at 47 with 4:20 to go. It was tied again at 49 and at 52 at the end of regulation when Scott drilled her second trey to send it into overtime.

Walkup added five of her game-high 21 points in the overtime but her only backup in the extra period came from sophomore Melissa Maberry who hit two for two from the charity stripe.

Jefferson was the difference down the stretch. In addition to the game-winner, she had two field goals off inside moves, giving her all the Lady Bobcat points in the overtime.

Bliss pulled down nine boards, five at the defensive end, to lead the Lady Pirates in rebounding where they had a 38-20 team margin for the game.

The Pagosans had their best shooting night of the season, hitting 24 of 48 from the floor for 50 percent, but were only 9 of 20 from the foul line, and continued to have ball control problems, recording 31 turnovers in the contest, three coming in the crucial overtime period.

Those two factors, turnovers and poor free throw shooting, have been the Ladies prime problems in recent games.

They'll take their 6-6 season record on the road again Friday for a 5 p.m. contest in Bayfield.

Summary

Scoring: Scott, 3-13 , 0-0, 8; Maberry, 1-2, 2-2, 4; Walkup, 8-11, 4-6, 21; Honan, 3-7, 0-2, 6; Bliss, 1-2, 2-4, 4; Jewell, 6-10, 2-6, 14; Forrest, 1-2, 2. Rebound leaders: Bliss 9, Jewell 8, Maberry, Walkup and Forrest 5 each. Steals leaders: Scott, Walkup and Honan, 3 each. Assists leaders, Walkup 5, Bliss 3. Blocks: Walkup 1, Jewell 2. Team fouls: 18.

 

Lady Pirates fall 55-32 to vaunted Centauri

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Hot potato!

That seemed to be the game being played by the Pagosa Springs Lady Pirates and the highly-ranked Centauri Lady Falcons Jan. 18.

For most of the opening period, neither team could distinguish team colors as they traded turnovers like women often do grocery coupons.

When the period ended, Pagosa had 11 miscues and Centauri seven. And the score was tied at four.

The Lady Pirate scores came on a pair of free throws by Melissa Maberry and a field goal by Caitlyn Jewell.

Centauri got two from Brittny McCarroll who would be the game's leading scorer with 14, slightly below her team-leading 15.8 per game for the first 10 games of the season and two from 6-foot junior Ashley Dunn, who finished with seven.

The Pagosa hopes of holding the Lady Falcons at bay were demolished in a 20-9 second period surge for Centauri.

The visitors were paced in the period by 6-foot center Kiley Mortensen with six points, two from the line and five by diminutive sophomore Resa Espinoza, including a long 3-pointer. McCarroll added four, Dunn, two, and Idana Espinoza chipped in two of her nine points for the game.

For Pagosa, Bri Scott recorded five points in the frame, including 3 of 4 from the free throw line; Maberry added two more free throws and Katie Bliss had a short jumper.

Trailing 24-13 at the half, any hopes Pagosa had of getting back into the game disappeared in an 18-8 Centauri third-period surge.

McCarroll, Mortensen and Melissa Sutherland each had four for Centauri, Idana Espinoza had a trey and Dunn a pair.

For Pagosa in the period, single field goals from Scott, Maberry, Mollie Honan and Bliss were the answer

With 3:14 remaining in the period, 5-11 freshman Emily Buikema made her varsity debut after weeks of rehabbing a leg injury. She did not attempt a field goal, but hit one of two from the free throw line, had a defensive rebound, and one blocked shot.

Coach Bob Lynch had hoped to play her the night before against Bloomfield, but she was still limping slightly from tweaking the bad leg alighting from the bus.

Still, he was happy to get her into the action, noting "she can be a big help down the road with her added height."

The Pagosans staged a mild comeback in the fourth period, being outscored only 13-11 for the final score of 55-32.

The surge was led by a suddenly offensive-minded Honan with six points, Scott with four and Buikema's free throw.

McCarroll and Idana Espinoza each had four for Centauri, Mortensen and Heather Sheridan each scoring a pair and Dunn a single free throw.

For the second consecutive game, Maberry gave the Lady Pirates a spark off the bench, adding two blocked shots to her six points and six rebounds.

For the game, Centauri hit 21 of 33 from the floor and 11 of 17 from the line. Pagosa was 12 of 31 from the floor and 10 of 22 from the line.

Pagosa actually outrebounded the Lady Falcons, 26-21, and had 16 steals compared to only two for Centauri. Pagosa had 29 turnovers compared to 17 for the Lady Falcons.

Pagosa will travel to Bayfield for a 5 p.m. game Friday and host Dolores in a rescheduled game snowed out earlier at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Summary

Scoring: Scott, 4-9, 3-4, 11; Maberry, 1-5, 4-4, 6; S. Walkup, 0-3, 0-2, 0; Honan, 3-3, 2-4, 8; Bliss, 2-3, 0-1, 4; Jewell, 2-2, 0-2, 4; Forrest, 0-4, 0-2, 0; Faber, 0-1, 0-1, 0; Buikema, 0-0, 1-2, 1. Rebound leaders: Scott and Maberry 6 each Bliss 4, Jewell 3. Steal leaders: Scott 5, Walkup and Bliss, 3 each. Assist leaders: Walkup 3, Bliss, 2. Blocks: Maberry 2, Jewell and Buikema 1 each.

 

Ladies giveaways pave loss to Bloomfield

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Bob Lynch was pretty much at a loss for words .

But, he said, he had learned one lesson as a new head coach.

"Never say it can't get any worse!"

He was talking after watching his Pagosa Lady Pirates get shellacked 66-27 by the visiting Bloomfield Lady Bobcats Jan. 10.

He said he'd been depressed after seeing the girls blow a late lead and lose to Aztec the week before , and thought things "could get no worse."

How wrong he was.

Perhaps the most notable key to the Bloomfield success was Pagosa's largesse.

The Pirates set a pace in futility with 33 turnovers in the game, nine coming in the first period when, surprisingly, they registered a 9-9 tie. The visitors had only five for the game.

After that, however, it was all downhill for the hosts. They were outscored 16-7 in the second period, 18-5 in the third, and 23-6 in the final stanza.

Pagosa got off to a quick start on a long trey by sophomore forward Bri Scott, but two Lady Bobcats who would be thorns in the side all night - Kayla Brown and Calla Cox - scored five and four points respectively in the opening period.

Pagosa got a steal and drive layup score from Melissa Maberry, two free throws by Mollie Honan and an inside spin move score from 6-foot-2-inch sophomore Caitlyn Jewell.

Game even after one, the Pirates had high hopes but eight more second period turnovers, combined with Cox's inside shooting for Bloomfield had the Pirates down by nine at the half and reeling.

Cox accounted for 10 of the Bobcats 16 points in the frame with four field goals and a pair from the charity stripe.

Pagosa, meanwhile, continued to struggle shooting (they were 9 of 33 from the floor in the game) and got only seven points. Scott had a field goal and two of two from the line, Shannon Walkup added a free throw and Honan her lone field goal of the game.

The real blowout began with the third period when Bloomfield ran off eight in a row before the Pirates got on the board with a Jewell free throw. Cox, Jenni Smith, Adrian Begay and Devin Oldham led the scoring parade for Bloomfield as the Lady Pirates committed a season-high 11 more turnovers in the period.

Begay added three more for Bloomfield when she was fouled while shooting and hit the free throw. Oldham and Briana Casaus each added a field goal while Lindsey Sullivan and Marie Anna Yazzie were each chipping in with a pair from the line.

Pagosa's five points in the quarter came on field goals by Jewell and Laura Tomforde and a free throw by Jewell.

Seemingly discontent with a 43-21 lead after three, the Lady Bobcats added 23 more in the final period while Pagosa got only four points from Maberry and another field goal by Jewell.

Cox and Oldham each had six in the period for Bloomfield. Brown added five and ran the fast break offense to perfection. Begay, Smith and Amanda Gay also scored for the visitors.

For the game, Bloomfield was 28 of 55 from the field but only 9 of 23 from the free throw line.

Despite the defeat, there were a pair of bright spots for Pagosa, according to Lynch.

One was the play of Maberry coming off the bench. She had six points and eight rebounds (four at each end).

Other good signs for Lynch were the floor play of Honan, who also chipped in with five rebounds and the rebounding of freshman Caitlin Forrest who had five boards and a blocked shot.

Pagosa was only 8 of 18 from the free throw line in a continuing, confusing inability to score freebies.

Summary

Pagosa scoring: Scott, 2-10, 2-2, 7; Maberry, 2-3, 2-5, 6; S. Walkup, 0-3, 1-4, 1; Honan, 1-4, 2-2, 4; Bliss, 0-1, 0; Jewell, 3-8, 1-5, 7; Forrest -04, 0; Tomforde, 1-1, 2. Three-point shots: Scott, 1-3. Rebound leaders: Maberry 8, Jewell 7, Scott 6, Honan 5, Forrest 4. Steals leader: Scott, 4. Blocks: Bliss and Forrest, 1 each.

 

Local woman places in top ten at world Appaloosa event

Mary Ann Page, of Pagosa Springs, placed in the top 10 of two equitation divisions at the 2002 World Champion Appaloosa Show, rounding out a successful year on the show circuit.

She finished ninth in the Novice Non-Pro English Equitation and tenth in Novice Non-Pro Western Equitation riding Mr. Dreamcatcher, a snow-blanketed Appaloosa gelding.

"Her infectious smile was huge, her laugh even happier," Chris Dunham, local 4-H horse project leader, wrote in an article about the event. "And then, just as it is with her she said, 'just wait 'till next year.'"

Page, another 4-H leader in Archuleta County, began dreaming of showing Appaloosa performance horses long ago. She started training in earnest four years ago and finally broke into the leader's ranks in 2002.

Leading up to the world championships, Page and Mr. Dreamcatcher took the entire Arizona Sun Circuit in Year-End Novice Non-Pro and Reserve Limited Non-Pro High Point, winning a beautiful English saddle. On the Front Range of Colorado, she was Year End Highpoint of Mountain and Plains Appaloosa Club; Year End Novice Non-Pro, Four Corners Appaloosa Horse Club; Circuit High Point-Novice Non-Pro New Mexico; Novice Non-Pro High Point Big Wyoming Appaloosa Horse Club, Cheyenne, Wyo.; Rocky Mountain Appaloosa Horse Association, High Point Limited Non-Pro; and Reserve Novice Non-Pro Hunter Under Saddle, Colorado Champion of Champions.

In the Appaloosa Journal's ranking of top-10 in the nation, Page ranked first in Hunter Under Saddle, English Equitation, Showmanship at Halter, Western Pleasure and Western Equitation.

To top off the year, the Arizona Appaloosa Association named Page the year's Non-Pro Sportsmanship Award.

"Congratulations my best friend and my very best show buddy ever," Dunham said. "You make us all proud."

 

 Obituaries

Vera Metzler

Vera Conrady Metzler, 74, and a former resident of Archuleta County, died Dec. 24, 2002, in Kindred Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mass of Christian Burial was held Dec. 27, 2002 in St. Peter's Catholic Church, Lindsay, Texas.

Survivors include her husband, Clarence "Dutch" Metzler and daughters and sons-in-law, Emily and Andy Klement of Muenster, Texas, Cindy and Mike Berend of Graham, Texas, Renee and Al Izadi of Atlanta, Ga., Linda and Johnny Herndon of Mesquite, Texas, and daughter-in-law Louise Conrady of Windthorst, Texas; sons and daughters-in-law Roy and Diane Conrady of Windthorst, Ted and Deedy Conrady of Windthorst, and Mike and Tammy Metzler of Denton, Texas; 19 grandchildren, five step grandchildren, five great grandchildren; a brother, Willie Hoff, of Windthorst; and sisters Magdalene Berend of Windthorst and Beatrice Gremminger of McKinney, Texas.

Preceding her in death were her parents, Lee and Amelia (Wolf) Hoff, her first husband, Edmund Conrady, and a son, Leslie Conrady.

She was born April 20, 1928, in Windthorst and married Conrady there May 14, 1946. He preceded her in death in 1975. On Aug. 11, 1990, she married "Dutch" in Lindsay.

He had built a home in Pagosa Country in 1971, and they lived here periodically for many years, making friends with many area residents, from the bingo parlor to the thrift store, to the church and in the community.

Vera was a member of St. Peter's Catholic Church and a member of St. Anne's Society. A homemaker, she was devoted to her family and beloved by her children.

Burial was in St. Mary's Cemetery of Windthorst.

Memorials, if desired, may be sent to Our Lady of Grace School, c/o Dutch Metzler, Box 15, Lindsay, TX 76250.

 

 Inside The Sun

Town prepares for special home rule election

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

The countdown to a home rule vote is on. Home rule is an option for local government organization granted under the state's constitution. It allows municipalities within the state to organize their own form of local government.

In the book "Budgeting: A guide for local governments," home rule is described as "A limited grant of discretion from a state government to a local government, concerning either the organization of functions or the raising of revenue. Without home rule, local governments are restricted to whatever functions, organization, revenue policies and borrowing restrictions are specified by the state government."

In an April 8 special election, registered voters within the Town of Pagosa Springs will be asked to decide two questions. First, whether or not to pursue home rule, and second, to select the nine members of the charter commission.

The charter commission is the group responsible for writing the document that would organize the town's government under home rule. Anyone interested in serving on this commission can pick up an election packet at Town Hall after Feb. 7.

To secure a place on the ballot, those running for the charter commission will have to collect 25 signatures from registered voters. They have 30 days to do it.

If approved, the charter commission will have 120 days to write a home rule charter for the community. That charter will then go before voters for final approval or denial. If the charter is voted down, the process would have to start all over again.

The Pagosa Springs Board of Trustees called the special Home Rule election in December.

 

Babillis recall on hold - for now

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Moving forward with an attempted recall of the Upper San Juan Health Service District board chairman is on hold - for now.

Toby Brookens, who threatened to start recall proceedings unless Dick Babillis resigned before Jan. 1, said action taken by board members at their meeting Tuesday convinced him to continue waiting.

"I am going to continue to put pressure on the current board to find solutions to some of the problems," he said.

Over the past few months, several employees have come before the board to discuss a widening rift between management and staff they say is leading to greater and greater morale problems. According to some, the board has turned a deaf ear to these concerns so far.

A written statement prepared for the recall petitions accuses Babillis of exhibiting " a variety of behavior as a USJHSD board member and as chairman of said board that seek to subvert the fair and democratic process." Brookens also accused him of failing in the fiduciary duties of his office.

Babillis, and the board, responded Tuesday night.

The chairman of the board has no authority to act in a fiduciary capacity as an individual, Babillis said, and that person serves at the pleasure of the board. The only authority of any board comes when they vote, together, to take an action.

To address the topic of the fiduciary actions of the board as a whole, Babillis read from a prepared statement.

"I can only speak of the actions from June of 2000 on, when I became a part of the board," he said. "However, I think the evidence demonstrates that the boards in question, past and present, have taken their fiduciary responsibilities seriously and acted accordingly. And that includes hiring the current district manager who has taken her assignment from the boards seriously - specifically, 'to turn the district around into a fiscally sound enterprise.'"

The community voted its willingness to trust the board in its financial capacity upon establishing the district in 1981 and again in November 2001 when they passed a substantial levy increase, Babillis said. Since then, the district has shown an ability to turn itself around financially and avoid bankruptcy.

" In many cases, the turnaround has come as the result of taking some new directions in the ways we do business," he said. "If there remain in the system people trying to hang onto the 'old ways' or the 'good old days,' I expect they will continue to feel pressure from this new direction.

"I feel we are in a transformational period, the future of which is still developing. I believe that those who recognize the need for transformational period and participate in the creative functions that are bringing it about will be the most satisfied - and it is not that far off .

"I assert, based in part upon the above cited examples, that this board is aware of, has addressed and has fulfilled their fiduciary responsibilities," he said in conclusion.

After that, he turned the meeting over to the board secretary. Martha Garcia asked the board if anyone wanted to address Babillis' position as chairman.

Board member Patty Tillerson, said Babillis inherited a boatload of financial and other problems from the day he first took office. In response, he spent many hours working in a volunteer capacity to try to turn the district around.

He wasn't perfect, she said, "he even hurt my feelings." Of course, she added, nobody's perfect and Babillis had gained her respect by continuing to work on improving.

"I honor that kind of person far more than someone who trudges on with deaf ears and his head in the sand," she said.

No action was taken and Babillis remains the board chairman. He also did not resign. However, he said, he would continue to evaluate his position on the board.

Brookens said the board's decision later in the meeting to look into hiring a private consultant to interview employees about their concerns and to consider the possible restructuring of district management was enough to put the recall on hold.

"I'm not going to file it," he said of the recall petition, "but I will continue to work with the committee to have everything in hand and be ready to give things to June (Madrid, county clerk) if things do not change."

 

County adopts new building code

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Archuleta County commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday adopting amendments to the county building code and corresponding fee increases which will result from the changes.

Bill Steele, county administrator, presented the proposed amendments to the board Tuesday morning. Steele acknowledged the fee structure accompanying the code update calls for increases but said such hikes are not out of line with respect to the county's history on the subject.

"We recognize that there will be some substantial fee increases," said Steele, "but we haven't had any in nearly a decade, so we're actually a little behind the times in this area."

After a review of the proposed code changes, which Steele referred to as "more user-friendly" than past regulations, Commissioner Bill Downey's motion to approve the resolution as presented was seconded by Commissioner Mamie Lynch and, with no objections from Chairman Alden Ecker, carried unanimously.

The amended regulations, to be officially recognized as the new "Archuleta County Building Safety Regulations," include provisions of the 2000 international building, residential, plumbing, electric and fire codes and have an effective date of Feb. 1, 2003.

The scope of construction which will be required to conform to the codes, as well as Archuleta County land use regulations, is described as "all residential, storage, manufactured housing, commercial and industrial building construction anywhere within the county of Archuleta."

Steele indicated that a consideration of code regulations and accompanying fees concerning agricultural construction would be forthcoming at the Jan. 28 board meeting.

The following business was also conducted at this week's board meeting:

- The regular board meeting scheduled for Feb. 4 was canceled.

- Bond was set and unanimously approved for the county finance director in the amount of $5,000.

- The 2002 Annual Highway Users Tax Report was unanimously approved.

- Contingent upon attorney review, a motion to approve a contract/letter of engagement with Grand Junction-based Chadwick, Steinkirchner, Davis & Co. allowing the firm to perform the county's 2002 audit carried unanimously.

- Consideration of a resolution authorizing the commissioners to enter into an agreement with CDOT for public transportation was tabled until Jan. 28.

- The board authorized Steele to enter into a contract, subject to attorney review, with Lee & Burgess Associates allowing the firm to perform a county salary survey.

- After a request from Clifford Lucero, representing Colorado Housing Inc., the board authorized use of a county bulldozer and operator, for a duration not to exceed four days, to assist the corporation with construction of new affordable housing units to be located on 7th Street.

- The board granted a request by Tim Smith, airport manager, for an advance for land acquisition funding associated with improvements at Stevens field. The amount granted will not exceed $29,000 and is contingent upon a letter from the FAA verifying the county will be reimbursed the full amount.

- The board voted to disband the Archuleta County Citizens Road Advisory Committee, expressing gratitude for the committee's performance.

- The board granted Mary Weiss, county attorney, permission to seek outside counsel concerning an equal opportunity employment case brought against the county by a former employee.

- Following a public hearing, the board approved a conditional use permit for the Bramwell Sand and Gravel Operation to be located near Chromo.

 

Four students injured in Colo. 151 rollover

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Four Pagosa Springs students were injured in a single-car rollover accident on Colo. 151 Tuesday morning.

Cpl. Randy Talbot of the Colorado State Patrol said Danielle Jaramillo, 16, of Arboles, was driving north on the highway when the accident occurred. She had apparently just finished passing another vehicle when she lost control sending the 1993 Suburban off the west side of the road. It rolled three and a half times before coming to rest on its top.

The driver and two of the three passengers were wearing seatbelts, Talbot said. Jaramillo received a serious arm injury. The other front-seat passenger, Ryan Versaw, 16, of Pagosa, was treated for a minor head injury. Backseat passenger, Steven Jaramillo, 13, of Arboles, was treated for a bump to the head.

The other backseat passenger, Brittany Jaramillo, 14, of Arboles, was ejected from the vehicle. She was not wearing a seatbelt. Talbot said she received several injuries in the accident, including a serious leg fracture.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation, Talbot said. Alcohol is not suspected. Updates on the patient's conditions were not available at press time Wednesday.

 

 Letters

Save the lynx

Dear Editor:

An article in an insert in the Jan. 15 Mineral County Miner describes the sources of money supporting the reintroduction of lynx. "The project is expected to cost $2 million over the next three years."

This article describes how happy Tom Burke is that the Colorado Heritage Foundation has committed to raise $500,000 for the lynx project. Tom Burke is both on the Colorado Wildlife Commission and on the board of the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, hardly an "arm's -length" relationship.

"The remaining funding will come from Great Outdoors Colorado [our lottery] and the DOW Non-game Check-off Fund". [ This is line 31 of the Colorado income tax].

This article goes on to state that of the first 96 lynx reintroduced only 34 can still be monitored. If they reintroduce 180 more, as planned, another 117 lynx may die or disappear. I hope that those of us opposed to the lynx project will avoid mistreating these beautiful creatures by not giving money to the fund-raisers described above.

Other reports on the subject raise the question concerning what will happen to the lynx in captivity if the program is suspended. The indication is the DOW has agreed to destroy any lynx not released. This again shows little regard for these animals.

Jim Carson

Positive spirit

Dear Editor:

On Jan. 18, I had the opportunity to attend the basketball games at Pagosa Springs High School. I must say this was the most enjoyable evening I have had at a basketball game in years.

I would like to thank Lisa Hartley and the high school band, Renée Davis and the cheerleading squad, and the section of students who provided much needed, long overdue, positive school spirit. It was very exciting to see these students having fun and being proud of their school, their team and their community.

In appreciation for the support of the fans, the team put on one of the best performances I have observed in some time.

I only hope that this type of positive spirit continues, and that even more students and fans will come to support our student/athletes.

Parents, teachers, and administration should be proud of the fine young adults who attended this event to show their support. I can certainly think of a lot worse things they could be doing.

Sincerely,

Jo Jo Charles

Student support

Dear Editor:

Regarding Saturday night's basketball game - that was the very best display of student support at a game I've seen in 21 years here.

It meant a lot to the players - I watched them thank you as they left the game floor.

Most of the time it's mainly the adults who are helping the cheerleaders. I got excited when I saw and heard your support for our team.

Keep it up, and we just might win state.

In appreciation,

Gramma Dottie Forrest

School spirit

Dear Editor:

We don't have high school age children yet, but being a Pagosa graduate, we have dropped in on various sports activities over the years. I was always saddened at the lack of crowd participation and "school spirit."

Saturday's game with Centauri was finally different after all those years. I commend all of those students and alumni (boys especially) who painted their faces and unashamedly led the way, supporting the cheering squad.

I hope this will be allowed to grow and continue into every sport until everyone is participating in good, clean, sportsmanlike "school spirit."

Enthusiasm and cheering is such an important part of high school sports it shouldn't be dampened. As time goes on, maybe the crowd won't need such close supervision.

A Pirate alum and fan,

Lisa (Cooney) Kraetsch

Grip on reality

Dear Editor:

This morning I found two missionaries at my door. I politely sent them away, of course. As usual, I'm amazed at the presumption of people who assume that they have a better grip on reality than some person they don't know, and who are eager to set that person straight on the eternal verities, as they understand them.

I think it is better, and certainly more civil, to assume that others can take care of themselves, unless they either ask for help or demonstrate their need in some unmistakable way.

Jim Milstein

Kindergarten

Dear Editor:

The proposed full-day kindergarten program at the elementary seems just a little absurd at best. I think of my own 6-year-old who wearily rises at 5:30 a.m. every morning so that she can make the bus and attend her half-day class. The kid has been known to fall asleep on the bus going to school.

Even though she enjoys her class, quite frankly, she is utterly exhausted by the end of the week. For her the school experience would become unpleasant at best if she had to attend for the full day. She needs the remainder of the day for activities that are at least equally important to her personal development. Specifically: the opportunity to rest, family interactions and perhaps most of all play. Besides, does anyone truly believe that cramming in a few more hours of patterns, shaping, coloring and word recognition is really going to determine her academic future?

What you are seeing here is a serious case of CSAPositis, a relatively new disease known to effect well-meaning administrators and overzealous politicians. CSAP is the "Colorado Student Achievement Program," and in conjunction with NCLB, No Child Left Behind, represents our society's attempt to quantify education and learning.

The idea is to somehow prove that learning is taking place and thereby justify our public educational system and somehow be accountable to the taxpayers. Sounds great on the surface, but the problem is that education is ultimately a dynamic process, and what it means to be truly educated is dependent on the individual. Because of these factors, the best education requires individualized learning programs which in turn requires those two most precious of commodities, time and money.

CSAP forces administrators to become businessmen since all kids are expected to reach a single achievement quota in a set period of time. By analogy, schools become "donut factories," the purpose of which is to produce a product that is uniformly superior to those generated by other countries. Any perceived shortcomings in the system are viewed as a problem that can only be solved by raising the standard and placing greater emphasis on quality control. This in turn creates an atmosphere in which principals and teachers feel desperate to "make the grade." The response is the urge to cram the greatest amount of objective knowledge into the shortest period of time. I have been an educator for 15 years, and the only result that I have seen from all of this is increased stress and diminished enthusiasm.

Sadly, the proposal to go to a full-day kindergarten is just the latest installment in the trend toward mechanized education. Your children deserve better. As for myself, I'm glad that my lovely daughter will miss out on the dubious benefits. After all, I come from the opposite spectrum. Anyone interested to going to a half-day first grade?

Sincerely,

Tony Rackham

Community News

Senior News

Caregiver Support Program helps prevent burnout

By Janet Copeland

SUN Columnist

A big thank you to Leslie Davis of San Juan Basin Health Department who spoke to us Tuesday about the Caregiver Support Program.

Many folks are unaware of this program which provides support services for persons involved in an ongoing caregiving relationship. It helps prevent burnout and enhances the quality of care provided by giving the caregivers a break or financial assistance when needed.

For more information about this program, call Leslie at 264-2409.

We are sad to hear of the death of Rose Perea's father and hope everyone will keep Rose and her family in their prayers.

Musetta and Laura are trying to organize a Coffee Club, named "Your Two Cents," where folks can get together just to visit. If you are interested in participating, contact either of these ladies for more information.

Don't forget: Friday, Jan. 31, is Spirit Day - wear your Silver Foxes T-Shirt.

The Senior Center keeps a "want" list of things that would help us provide better service or more comfort for our folks. This week we are in need of a 35mm slide projector to be used in presentations provided by guest speakers. If anyone has a good one they are willing to donate, we would certainly appreciate it.

Everyone over age 55 please remember to renew your membership in Archuleta Senior Citizens Inc. For the $3 fee you receive many benefits, to include a $10 deduction on the cost of using the Medical Shuttle to Durango.

Our Volunteer of the Month is Marjorie Nevitt, who has been instrumental in keeping our library in order.

Congratulations to our Senior of the Week - Charlene Baumgardner. Charlene is one of our regulars and we love having her and Robert join us.

Welcome to the guests, returning members and new members who joined us last week: Mary Lucero, Carmen Valdez, Tessie Curvey, Tina, Ann, and Bill Pongratz, Lupe Henrichson, Bob Fisher, U.O. and Mary Anna Hallman (from Arlington, Texas), Ethel Clark, Tamra Allen (town planner), Julie Jessen, Rita Werner, June Beck, Jane and Emanual Lark, Mary Hannah, Teresa Huet, Hubert and Helen Rackets, Helen Swass, Maxine Pechin, Penny and Jack Nelson, and Louis Perez.

We will offer a one-time session of Dominos instruction Jan. 24, at 1 p.m. Domino games will be offered on the first and third Fridays of each month after lunch.

Also Friday, the Archuleta Senior Citizens Inc. Board will meet after lunch. Guests are invited to attend.

The Grief and Loss Program is now meeting at Dr. Deb Parker's office, 475 Lewis Street, Suite 206. For more information call 946-9001.

Upcoming Events

Monday, Jan. 27 - 12:30 p.m. Chief Warren Grams from the Pagosa Fire Protection District will address "Fire Safety and Smoke Alarms"; 1 p.m., bridge for fun.

Tuesday, Jan. 28 - 9:30 a.m., yoga; 11 a.m., blood pressures taken by Glenda Cloward; 12:45 p.m., art class in the arts media room of the Community Center .

Wednesday, Jan. 29 - 10:30 a.m., computer class.

Friday, Jan. 30 - 8:30 a.m. yoga; 10 a.m. Qi Gong; 11 a.m. Jim Hanson Medicare Counseling; noon, December Birthday Celebration.

Veterans Corner

VA denies access to health care for many

By Andy Fautheree

I have received notice the Department of Veterans Affairs has made a major policy change in it's VA Health Care priority rating system that is going to affect many veterans.

As many of my regular readers know, I have been concerned for two years that something like this was going to happen.

As a consequence of this concern I have been aggressively enrolling as many Archuleta County veterans in VA Health Care as I could, through various outreach programs in the community such as health fairs, this column, my Monday night radio show and last year's veteran's forum. This past year or so I was able to enroll approximately 350 local veterans in VA Health Care.

Enrollment curtailed

The VA announced it is immediately cutting off access to its health care system to some higher-income veterans, a move that agency estimates will affect about 164,000 veterans who were expected to enroll in the system during the current fiscal year.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi said he decided to restrict access to the VA health care system because of a growing backlog of about 200,000 veterans who have to wait an average of six months before receiving their first treatment at a health care facility.

Principi said the growth in the number of veterans enrolling in the VA system "is eating up all our marginal capacity. Our clinics, our medical facilities are full."

Income restrictions

The restrictions, which took effect last Friday, apply to what the agency calls Category 8 veterans, the lowest priority in health care. These are veterans with relatively high incomes who do not suffer from military service-related disabilities or health problems.

Category 8 income levels vary depending on the geographic location, but generally the restrictions will apply to veterans with annual incomes of $30,000 or higher.

The restrictions will apply only to new enrollees and will not affect the 1.4 million Category 8 veterans who currently receive health care from the VA.

Historically, the VA's health care mission has been to treat veterans with service-related health problems and low incomes, and those needing special services. But that changed when Congress enacted legislation in 1996 opening the system to all veterans. That year, the VA health care system treated 2.9 million veterans. Last year, the number of patients had swelled to 4.2 million.

Many veterans affected

The largest segment of those entering the system is relatively high-income veterans who fall into the new Category 8. Principi said more than half of the 830,000 veterans who enrolled last year were classified as Category 8.

I believe the percentage of Category 8 enrollees is much higher here in Archuleta County. I think it could be as much as 80-90 percent. Perhaps this is because I have encouraged every Archuleta County veteran to get enrolled, regardless of any service-connected disabilities or income level. I enrolled myself shortly after coming aboard as your Veterans Service Officer.

Already enrolled, OK

Most important thing to remember right now is if you are already enrolled in VA health care, you will not be dropped from the program. They are grandfathering all current enrollees.

But if you are not enrolled now, and you do not have any service-connected disabilities and are of normal financial resources, you cannot enroll at this time. It is going to be tough for me to have to tell some of our veterans they can no longer get into the VA health care system.

For information on these and other veterans benefits please call or stop by the Veterans Service Office located on the lower floor of the county courthouse (next to the driver's license office). The office number is 264-2304, the fax number is 264-5949 and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, Friday by appointment. Bring your DD Form 214 (discharge) for registration with the county, application for VA programs and for filing in the VSO office.

Chamber News

Asay, Gayhart, Karlquist are our new directors

By Sally Hameister

We are delighted to welcome our three new Chamber board directors who will be officially brought into the fold tomorrow at our all-day board retreat.

Congratulations to Dr. Scott Asay, Angie Gayhart and Toby Karlquist who prevailed in the closest election I've witnessed in all my years in the Chamber. I want to thank the entire membership for the keen interest and participation in this election.

Folks have been voting all along and those who hadn't come in voted at the meeting Saturday night. Once again, my hat is off to all six candidates who agreed to run and I thank Shelley Low, Linda Schmitz and Tony Gilbert for being such good sports.

We sadly bid adieu to three directors who faithfully served their three-year terms with great enthusiasm, panache and no small amount of silliness. We can only hope that Mark DeVoti, Bonnie Masters and Liz Marchand will miss us as much as we'll miss them. Thank you, guys, for all your efforts to make our Chamber good, better and best.

Mardi Gras

If you missed the party Saturday night, you missed a beauty. Pagosa Lodge looked gorgeous, the food was wonderful, the crowd animated and fun and the meeting, as promised, short and to the point. We probably started at about 7:40 p.m., ended about 8:50 p.m. and still had lots of laughs and presented 16 awards. It just goes to show that we (I) don't always have to be so long-winded. It's a stretch, but I can do it if I have to. We have many people to thank, so let's get on with it.

We're grateful to the folks at Pagosa Lodge for all their help and cooperation with this affair. We basically take over five rooms and the lobby of the Lodge, and they couldn't have been more accommodating and gracious about the takeover. Thanks to Jack Nightingale, Chris Gurlach, Marlene Jorgensen, Roberto Pulido, Chef Jose Pasqual and King Cake baker, Mona Calderon. We received raves about the food, and were pleased that it was both delicious and plentiful.

The Lodge looked especially beautiful thanks to the following folks who helped us decorate to create a real Mardi Gras party environment: Ken Harms, Bonnie Masters, Angie Gayhart, Liz Marchand, Dick Babillis, Linda Schmitz, Sally Hovatter, Sheila Hunkin, Will and Christie Spears, Nettie and Bruce Trenk, Bob Eggleston, Nan Rowe, Angie Dahm, Sara Scott and Richard Van Shardonberg.

Of course, special thanks to the Evil One, Betty Johann, who tried desperately to convince people that she was an angel Saturday night. Nonetheless, she did a marvelous job with the stage and the Ponderosa Room and with my costume. Never before have I been called "You Little Devil" so frequently.

It goes without saying that Doug and Morna Trowbridge were there every inch of the way and taking care of business as they always do. Thankfully, they take care of so many of the details that could easily be overlooked if I had to do it all. Thanks to the Trowbridges, as always, for keeping me somewhat together.

Congratulations to the following award winners: Best Female Costume, Sherry Neill; Best Male Costume, Ron Gustafson; King Cake Winner (one-year free Chamber membership), Bob Fisher.

Our Pagosa Pride Awards went to Montoya's Elkhorn Café, Nanette and Jim Shaw; St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, Reverend Annie Ryder; and Tequila's Mexican Restaurant, Isabel Garcia. Pagosa Pride Honorable Mention went to Navajo State Park, John Weiss, and Town of Pagosa Springs Bell Tower, Jay Harrington.

A special Contribution to the Community Award went to Todd Shelton for his work to create funds to benefit firefighters in the wake of last summer's fires.

Jackie Schick was awarded a much-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award for her considerable contributions to our community over the years.

The David C. Mitchell Employer of the Year Award was presented to David C. Mitchell (posthumously) and accepted by Cynthia Mitchell and the Pagosa Springs SUN. This award will become a permanent one with a traveling plaque going to the winning business each year.

Sue Jones was the recipient of the 2002 Volunteer of the Year Award, and Bob Bigelow was the deserving recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award.

Congratulations to all these lovely people for jobs well done. Thanks too, to our old pal, Darrel Cotton, who created such beautiful plaques for us as he does each year and actually even attended this year - wonder of wonders.

Center reader board

We have two advertising spaces available on the bulletin board located right outside the Visitor Center, and we are offering that space on a first-come, first-served basis. The space enjoys high visibility as it is in full view 24 hours a day for all who visit us, even when our doors are closed. All you need to do is present us with a check for $50 (for a full year) and an 8 x 11 colored photo or ad or whatever it is you would like to advertise and the deed is done.

Spring concert

The Pagosa Springs Community Choir is proud to announce its first spring concert May 1 at the Pagosa Springs High School Auditorium.

Pam Spitler is the new choir director, Sue Anderson will again serve as accompanist and Cindi Owen has been appointed to the newly created position of artistic director. This group is looking for some new board members, so please let them know if you are interested in serving.

You will hear many familiar favorites in this upcoming concert along with fun and innovative new numbers.

Rehearsals will begin Tuesday, Feb. 4 , 7-9 p.m., and all subsequent rehearsals will be held on the same day of the week and same time in the chorus room at the junior high school. On the first night only, come at 6:30 p.m. to check in and pick up music. The suggested contribution to help cover music costs this spring is $20.

If you are interested or have friends and neighbors who might be interested in joining this talented group, join them at the first rehearsal or call Sue Kehret at 731-3858 with any questions.

Budding artists

When you have a chance, please stop by Taminah Gallery and have a look at some rather remarkable pastels created by some or our talented local youngsters under the tutelage of pastel and portrait artist, Soledad Estrada-Leo.

I attended the opening last Thursday and was blown away by the works and ages of the artists. These pieces will hang in the gallery through Jan. 31 and I heartily encourage you to stop in and be as impressed as I was. Taminah Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Fire presentation

Don't forget to head out next Monday evening, Jan. 27, for the special program sponsored by the Pagosa Springs Rotary Club and the Pagosa Fire Protection District featuring a slide presentation and day-by-day account of the Missionary Ridge fires of last summer.

This visual diary shows the daily progression of the fires and explains how and why the decisions were made to extinguish and control the fires. It was created by the Durango Fire Rescue Authority and is narrated by Durango Fire Chief, Mike Dunaway.

I have seen this slide show and can testify that it is a stunning, spectacular and emotional program that features never-before-seen images of the event that changed the course of the summer of 2002 in both Durango and Pagosa Springs.

This free presentation lasts approximately one hour and 20 minutes and will be held at the Pagosa Springs High School auditorium beginning at 7 p.m.

I suggest you arrive early to secure a seat as I anticipate great interest in a program that so vividly brings a better understanding to this devastating event in our recent history.

Winter Carnival

Pagosa Fire Protection District, Upper San Juan Health Services and Emergency Medical Services will once again combine forces to present a Winter Carnival at Parish Hall on Winterfest weekend, Feb. 8, 2-8 p.m.

Last year as many as 425 children participated in all the fun and games, and this year should be bigger and better than ever. Tickets for games are 25 cents and there will be plenty of prizes to go around. You can enjoy a cakewalk, clowns and snack on popcorn, hot dogs, nachos and more.

Proceeds are used to fund a bicycle rodeo to be held in May to educate kids and parents about the importance of bicycle maintenance and safety.

If you have questions about the Winter Carnival, please call Holly Fulbright at 731-9289 or Terri Moody-Clifford at 731-5811.

Photo contest

As always, the Pagosa Spring Arts Council will hold its photography contest during the month of February.

This means all you shutter bugs out there need to get cracking because Jan. 29 is the deadline for entries. Each entry is only $4. If you have never been a part of 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.

Membership

We are pleased to present one new member the week and eleven renewals. Obviously while some of us were reveling in true Mardi Gras fashion, others were diligently writing Chamber membership checks. We're grateful for both the workers and the players and for those who somehow combine the two successfully.

Dr. Christopher Offutt brings us the Foot and Ankle Clinics with the primary office located at 2415 Mullins Avenue in Alamosa and a local office located in The Adobe, Unit 221, 275 Lewis St. Dr. Offutt is a foot and ankle physician and will be happy to consult with you at either office about your concerns. You can reach him at his Alamosa location at (719) 587-0330 or toll-free at (888) 842-3668.

Renewals this week include Richard (Dick) C. Alspach with Alspach's Antiques and Fine Furniture Refinishing ; Bob Scott with Edward Jones Investments; David G. Conrad with Millennium Renewables; Carl Nevitt with Big Sky Studio; Dr. Walter S. Moore with Moore Chiropractic; Roberto Lopez with Ramon's Restaurant; John F. and Carol J. Frakes with Eagle Eye Inspection Service; Lynn F. Cook with Four Seasons Land Company, GMAC Real Estate and Lynn and Doug Cook with an associate membership; Lisa Raymond with Peak Physical Therapy; and Chief Warren Grams and Diane Bower with the Pagosa Fire Protection District.

Thanks, folks.

Library News

Woven images from Southwestern mythology

By Lenore Bright

Catherine Frye and family donated an autographed copy of "Dances With Wool: Celebrating 100 Years of Woven Images From Southwestern Mythology," by Mark Winter.

This is a catalog of an exhibition organized by the historic Toadlena Trading Post in June of last year. It is dedicated to the spirit of the Navajo Holy People - in particular Spider Woman who, according to tradition, taught the Navajo to weave.

This is the beginning of researching Navajo figurative textiles based on mythology from Anasazi rock art and sand painting images. The catalog evolved from research into the history and development of the Toadlena/Two Grey Hills weaving style.

Mark Winter previously lived in Pagosa Springs. Catherine Frye has helped Winter with his vast collection of weavings through the years. Several other Pagosa residents are mentioned in the catalog.

Winter is attempting to encourage young Navajos to continue the weaving skills of their mothers. It is hoped that there will be a continuation of a tradition that has been passed down through the generations for over three centuries.

This is a welcome addition to our Hershey Collection. The color photographs of the many weavings are exquisite. The history presented is a fine addition to our Southwest culture material.

"The Complete E-Commerce Book," by Janice Reynolds will help you design, build and maintain a successful Web-based business.

The Web is revolutionizing the way the business world approaches buying, selling and communicating. This book will help you gain the ability to understand the issues, strategies and questions that should be asked before you venture into this technology.

"Eat, Drink and Be Merry," by Dr. Dean Edell is just the right tonic after the holiday eating scene.

Are you confused by conflicting advice and torn with guilt over what you ate and drank? Dean is an iconoclast who takes on the medical establishment and offers you the truth about healthy living. Be forewarned, some of your most cherished beliefs about health may fall by the wayside.

And on the other hand, we have the latest issue of "Good Medicine," from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine with the latest information on good and bad foods.

Whole grains boost insulin sensitivity. Smoked sausage may increase the MS risk. Fruits, vegetables and cereal protect bones. Soymilk lowers blood pressure. And school lunches may make many sick.

For information on any of these subjects, ask for this pamphlet.

Bookmarks

The Friends and artists are working on the fund-raising bookmarks, but we're having difficulty locating tassels.

We'll keep you informed as to when they will be available.

Fund-raising

Our capital campaign is moving along. We have raised about $24,000 from our initial letter. We encourage pledges and will be inviting those of you interested in helping with this campaign to a meeting in the near future. Call 264-2209 if you would like to be invited.

Building fund donations

Millennium

Warren and Kay Grams in honor of David Mitchell, Mary and Jim Cloman and Ray Macht.

Benefactor

Mark and Jana Allen

St. Patricks Episcopal Church

Sponsor

Barry Thomas

Associate

Harry and Alene Cole

Donor

Thomas and Gayle Broadbent

Susan Joy

Kirsten Skeehan and Kathy Keyes in honor of Ruth Marquez

Other

Margaret Wilson in memory of Molly Ann Webb and the Ross brothers.

Donations

Thanks for materials from Shaun Martin, Katherine Cruse, Wesley Vandercook, Lyn DeLange, David Durkee, Carol Hakala, Harold Morrison, Melinda Short, John Richardson, Scotty Gibson, Cathy Reece, Sally Berry, Pagosa SUN.

 

Births

 

Dylan Ray Tressler was born Jan. 4, 2003 in Durango, Colo., weighing in at five pounds, nine ounces and measuring 19 inches. The son of Chriss Tressler and Tamara McFatridge of Pagosa Springs has Ray and Michelle Tressler and Charley and Janett Martinez as grandparents.

 

 

People

Stephen Blaine Sanders of Pagosa Springs was one of 95 students to receive bachelor degrees during fall commencement exercises Dec. 20 at Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Ark.

Sanders received his degree in business administration/finance.

 

  Features

Field of Dreams

Town begins planning for multiuse sports complex

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Right now, 16 acres of dreams are situated right across from Golden Peaks Stadium on South 5th Street.

Sure, it looks like nothing more than a vacant snow-covered lot dotted with piles of dirt and river rock. But take a closer look and the possibilities may seem endless.

On Jan. 15, about 35 people - consultants, town planners, parents of softball players, teenagers and neighbors - squeezed into a small conference room in Town Hall to talk about their visions, and concerns, for the park land.

Joe Lister Jr., director of parks and recreation for the town, started the meeting with a brief history.

The land, he said, was once owned by the Pagosa Springs Sanitation District as a cushion in case expansion of the district treatment facility was ever required. As years passed, it became clear the extra land might not be needed. When the town staff took over general management duties of the district in the 1990s, the board deeded the 16 acres to the town.

There was just one catch. The land would have to be used as a park.

"What we have is a beautiful piece of property to develop to serve the most people," Lister said.

Dreaming

Based on a park and recreation survey completed in 2000 and general input from the community up to Jan. 15, the town is looking at turning the land into a multiuse sports complex with something for everyone if possible.

Sports fields, especially softball and soccer fields, topped Lister's list. Last season, he said, 250 youth ages 7-12 participated in little league. All of them rotated through two and a half fields on Tuesday and Thursday nights. For some, it meant leaving the fields around 10 p.m. - too late for kids that young.

The lack of space also meant that youth were practicing on fields right next to adults, a safety issue, he said. With an additional softball field or so in the new park, the T-ballers could be in and out first, relieving a lot of pressure off the other fields.

Soccer participation is another big area of growth for the parks and recreation department. Numbers of have shot up from 50 to around 210, Lister said. Once again, the facilities available don't match the need.

Besides the fields, a building to house bathrooms, storage and a concession stand, a takeout point for river users in the summer, a skate park and space for a temporary stage for special community events were suggested to fill more needs.

Others brought up ideas for walking paths, tennis courts, a hockey rink, amphitheater and a gazebo or other shelter for small gatherings.

A group of teenagers attended to discuss the skate park. They suggested leaving room for some permanent concrete structures and space to expand the number of apparatuses.

Currently, the skate park is housed and the South Pagosa Park, but that is only a temporary solution, Lister said. The town took over one of the park's basketball courts for use as the skate park just to get started.

Concerns

Concerns were also raised during the meeting. The location of bathrooms, possible excess noise, lighting, law enforcement, problems with motorcycles and dog control were all mentioned.

Lister said lighting would be focused onto the fields rather than up into the sky, reducing the amount of glare that could travel into windows.

Bathroom location, the consultants said, would be restricted by the terrain and location of utilities to some extent.

"But they shouldn't smell at all," consultant Jana Dewey McKenzie said, especially if regular, flush toilets are installed, maintained and cleaned regularly.

Parking, generally the first concern, was addressed with relative ease. The school has offered the possibility of participants continuing to park in the two adjacent lots along 5th street. It remains to be seen if that will be enough to serve the purposes of the sports complex.

David Hamilton, high school assistant principal, said the complex would also be a good tie-in with a three-mile cross country course planned to start at the stadium and wind along the ridge south of the high school before coming back along 5th street.

A link with downtown is planned through an extension of the Riverwalk, giving just about everyone access.

Back to reality

Reality interrupted the basics of the discussion just a few times.

Space and money, both Lister and the consultants agreed, would be the limiting factors. The board of trustees budgeted about $30,000 during 2002 and 2003 for planning on the project, but no money has been reserved for actual construction. Much of those funds, Lister said, will come through capital improvements from the town or grants.

Full buildout could take five years or more.

But back to the dreaming. With the master plan now being created based on public input, Lister said, it should be easier to make the pitch for grant money.

EDAW Inc. consultants Kelley Savage and McKenzie, of Fort Collins, spent about two days in Pagosa Springs collecting as much information as they could.

Now, they'll have to put it all on paper. Savage said they would spend the next few weeks working up a couple alternative master plans. Those will be reviewed by town staff and a preferred plan will be selected.

At that point, a second public meeting will be held to gather final input on the preferred plan. Any necessary changes will be made and the consultant will submit a final master plan with suggested phasing for the different elements, a survey of the property, a cost breakdown and visual plan showing the location of sports fields, trails, turf, landscaping and structures.

 

Pagosa Country was Indian Country first

By John M. Motter

PREVIEW Columnist

Everyone knows, or should know, that before Hispanics and Anglos entered Pagosa Country and the San Juan Basin, this was Indian Country.

Even today, unlike what happens in much of the United States, residents and visitors to Pagosa Country are likely to encounter Indians.

A significant portion of Archuleta County is part of the Southern Ute Reservation. This portion of the reservation is occupied mostly by descendants of the Capote and Moache Ute bands.

In earlier times, before the Anglos took over, the Capote Utes spent their summers in the Pagosa area, their winters in New Mexico, maybe in the Abiquiu region or on the Puerco River. The Moache Utes lived generally in the San Luis Valley during the summer, and in the Cimarron area of New Mexico during the winter.

Agency headquarters for these Southern Utes is Ignacio.

A little further west on Sleeping Ute Mountain and south of Cortez is the Mountain Ute Reservation. Occupying this reservation with headquarters in Towaoc are the Weeminuche Utes. Before Anglos came, the Weeminuche generally occupied an area approximating their present boundaries during the summer. During winter, they moved south often in the same area as the Capote Utes.

The three bands mentioned are often recognized as the Southern Utes because of where they lived. Other bands of Utes lived near Montrose, Grand Junction, on the White and Snake rivers in northern Colorado and in several locations in Utah. It should be noted that the Utes moved freely from band to band and, after adopting the horse from the Spanish, rode out onto the plains to hunt buffalo.

By the time Anglos arrived, Utes pretty much dominated the mountain regions of Colorado.

South of Archuleta County in New Mexico is the Jicarilla Apache Reservation. The Jicarilla headquarters is in Dulce. Just as with the Utes, there were many bands of Apaches. In fact, that was true of most western Indians.

The reason is obvious. All of the early Indians in this part of the country, except for the Pueblos, survived by hunting and gathering a variety of plants and plant products. A hunting-gathering economy would not support large numbers of individuals in a small area. They lived in small bands and they kept moving, much for the same reason grazing animals keep moving.

Life changed greatly for the Utes and Apaches after they acquired the horse. They could move camp easier and hunting buffalo was easier, giving them a much greater quantity of meat. Consequently, they lived in larger groups.

Although less well recognized by the average citizen than other bands of Apaches, the Jicarilla may have been the first Apaches encountered by Coronado on his 1500s trek through New Mexico to the heart of the North American continent and back to Mexico. That is because Coronado crossed the old Jicarilla homeland.

Before Anglos altered the ethnic makeup of the West, the Jicarilla generally occupied portions of northeastern New Mexico and southeastern Colorado. They ventured onto the plains into the Panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma and even into Kansas. They also ventured into the north central mountains of New Mexico. An archaeological study of residential sites conducted by Stanford University turned up Jicarilla homesites in Archuleta County.

The answer to questions concerning where bands of Indians originally lived often cannot be answered unless one knows when. For example, when Anglos arrived in the West, the Comanches were famous for activities extending from their homes along the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma.

When is important because, before they acquired the horse, the Comanches were a mountain people living generally in the area of southern Idaho. When they moved out onto the plains, they forced the Jicarillas to move westerly, more into the mountains. As a result, Jicarillas that Coronado may have encountered near the junction of what is now Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma, were not living there a couple of hundred years later.

We will write more about the Jicarillas next week for several reasons. First, they are an important part of Pagosa Country history. Second, they live close to Pagosa Springs, less than an hour's drive away, and third, they will be celebrating Jicarilla Days Feb. 14-16, commemorating the anniversary of the founding of their reservation in 1887.

In addition to pow-wow dancing at the community center, authentic Jicarilla crafts will be on sale at the Cultural Center. These include baskets, bead work, and, at times, micaceous pottery and leather work all made by Jicarilla artisans.

The establishment of the reservation ended almost a half-century of homeless wandering for this tribe. We'll go into that more next week.

 

Editorial

No hard news

The question is asked frequently: "What's big in the news this week, what's in the paper?" The question is intended to elicit information about big and splashy news. Hard news. That type of news happens, but most often the answer is, "Not much." The answer is indicative of why many of us choose to live here, and why we love to live here: our community is still, for all intents and purposes, a small, relatively quiet place, infrequently rocked by "news," seldom mined for sensation.

The reality, however, is there are important things taking place just past the horizon or bubbling right below the surface; they aren't glamorous and usually don't qualify as big-headline fare, but they are important. Situations are developing and they will be news, when their times come. There are also things occurring outside our community that have direct bearing on how we'll fare in the future; they do not always make the front page in a small-town weekly newspaper.

The state budget crisis is one of these things. There is a 14-percent budget shortfall; the governor does not want to raise taxes. The recourse is to cut spending, cut programs. Details of the problem are unfolding and, little by little, the manner in which they will affect us here in Archuleta County is becoming obvious.

This week, Sen. Jim Isgar uses his column in The SUN to express his opinion regarding one of the key elements in the situation: TABOR, the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, established as an amendment to the Colorado Constitution. It limits the growth of spending in accord with select conditions - the growth of population and a rise in the U.S. Consumer Price Index. Though voters in all significant local taxing entities (and in many similar entities across the state) have unloaded the spending and revenue restrictions of TABOR, the state has not, and the flow of state funds to social programs, education, highway construction and other elements of our collective life could be profoundly altered. State and federal mandates have not ceased, but funding is in jeopardy.

Absence of water casts a big shadow without always taking center stage. The lack of normal snowfall is producing dire conditions in this part of the world, with the potential to maintain or deepen the drought that gripped us last year. Will there be water? Are people aware of the chance for disaster? Are they taking steps now that can help alleviate major problems in the future?

Representatives of local entities met Tuesday to begin making plans for a deadly consequence of the water shortage: wildland fire. The forests are extremely dry - they cannot get much drier and with no major snowfall this winter and heavy rainfall in the spring and early summer, trees will be dry as match heads, wildlands ready to burn. We have dodged the bullet too many times in our recent history. That we will be able to continue to do so much longer is wishful thinking.

Will our local economy hold up? Will tourism, our sole major industry, flourish? Will the prosperity we've enjoyed continue? Will sales tax revenues continue to fortify our county and municipal governments, nurturing the services most of us consider necessary? Will growth continue? Can we deal with local needs, provide the infrastructure and services that support growth?

Though they are now rarely on the front page, these things are news. And will be more important news as the summer season approaches.

What's in the news this week?

Oh, not much. Not if you're looking for sensation.

Look a little deeper though, and

Karl Isberg

 

Pacing Pagosa

 

Inquiring minds want to know

By Richard Walter

Why.

That's not a question. Just a word, one which regularly takes on significant meaning as age begins its endless assault.

And, when coupled with other words, it leads to deep philosophic thought challenges.

For example:

Why is it that when you have a new tube of toothpaste it seems like it will last for weeks. And shortly thereafter, as you squeeze, a sudden burst of what appears to be compressed air leaves the tube half the size it was seconds before?

Why does it seem that every driver on the road is either hell-bent to arrive before anyone else in the world at whatever is their destination; or is determined to go so slow no one behind them will ever get where they're headed?

Why, when you're shooting pictures at sporting events do the great plays seem to always take place on the opposite side of the field or court from your prime location?

Why do insurance rates continue to climb at the same time the companies are reducing their coverage and increasing their interminable deductibles?

Why does it take 20 days for a first class letter to get here from Denver but only two days for a bill to arrive from Pennsylvania?

Conversely, why does it take the payment for that same bill six or more days to travel the same route in the opposite direction?

Why, when it is one of the biggest players in the oil and gas fields of the region, are there no BP-Amoco service stations in the Four Corners area?

Why, when formidable obstacles confront us and we feel empowered to take on the world do we yell at a crying child to stop instead of trying to determine why the youngster is in tears?

Where do all the hotdog buns go when they are gone from the aisles in the local markets, especially in the dead of winter? There obviously are no picnics going on and the schools had no games that week which would have necessitated purchases for the concession stands.

Why do most New Mexico licensed cars visiting Pagosa Country seem to have drivers who appear to either have no knowledge of traffic law or no inclination to observe those laws?

Why does each succeeding haircut seem to make me more bald than I really am, at least in my own view?

And, along those same lines, why do driver's license pictures obviously reflect the countenance of some other person? It couldn't possibly be what we really look like.

Why do skunks find my yard a prime source of food and therefore dig it up with regularity when their weather-conscious season arrives?

Why can some people eat tons of anything they want and others of us gain weight just by looking at a picture of something good?

Why, no matter how many times the exactitude of their error is illustrated, do some people refuse to admit they've erred?

How long will it be until the shale bluffs above South 6th Street erode away to the point the fences at the top tumble down and the homes behind the fences are perched on areas that could collapse like California coastline?

Finally, why do wandering minds often focus on things they have no control over but form extensive opinions about, opinions often not consistent with the actual facts?

 

Legacies

 

90 years ago

Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era files of Jan. 24, 1913

The appropriation for county roads for 1913 is $13,500. This with $6,000 added to the 1913 road fund by the retiring board of county commissioners, the surplus from the 1912 general fund, and $2,500 to be expended by the forest service in Archuleta County this year makes a grand total of $22,000 that will be available for the roads of the county in 1913.

The open season this winter has not been bad on stock and cattle are looking good for the time of year.

Dr. F.W. Dicke, the German eminent eye specialist, is now at the Arlington Hotel. Bring your children for proper advice and care of their eyes.

Kos Harman is back in Pagosa after a visit to Arizona to size up business conditions there.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Jan. 27, 1928

The six-room frame ranch house of Geo. W. Snook, three miles north of Pagosa Springs, was completely destroyed by fire about eight o'clock Wednesday morning from a blaze which started either in the attic or on the roof. When discovered, the entire roof was afire, but with the assistance of several neighbors, who arrived quickly on the scene, they succeeded in removing most of the contents.

The board of commissioners was in session last Saturday. It was notified that application had been made to Judge Sumner for an injunction restraining the board from destroying the old barracks in the town. The cause will be heard at Durango on February 25.

Hay is worth from $8 to $10 per ton.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Jan. 23, 1953

The wave of sickness that has been traveling across the country hit in this area with a vengeance this past week. On Tuesday there were 132 children absent from school and as a result of this large number of absentees the school board ordered the town school closed from Wednesday until Monday. Authorities have also warned that all children should be kept at home as much as possible and that all public gatherings and places were there are crowds should be avoided.

The State Courtesy Patrol has informed The SUN that the deadline for new license plates has been set for February 15. After that date motorists are apt to be arrested if they do not have the new 1953 yellow and green plates on their cars.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Jan. 19, 1978

Heavy, wet snow fell in this area over the weekend and left some moisture for farmers and ranchers, some snow for skiers, snowmobilers and other winter sports fans, and also left some slick roads. About two feet of new snow was received on Wolf Creek Pass and 18 inches in town. The snowfall helped the moisture situation.

Town dog licenses are now available at the town hall. Dog owners must purchase these tags or their pet will be subject to being picked up and impounded. An extra fee and penalty must be paid to secure the pet's release.

The assessed valuation of Archuleta County for the year is $25,159,700. This is up from last year and is the highest assessed valuation in the history of the county.