March 6, 2003 
Front Page

Assessor cites new fiscal woe for county

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Just weeks after hearing the jail budget may be facing significant shortages due to overcrowding, county commissioners listened as Keren Prior, county assessor, stepped to the courthouse podium Tuesday to reveal her office is facing similar budget woes.

In short, Prior told the board that due to a work overload in her office stemming from computer failures, lack of manpower and a shortage of vehicles, the staff is falling behind in its attempt to meet state deadlines regarding the disclosure of information related to county real estate values and transactions.

She added that if staff fails to compile enough information necessary to pass an annual county real estate audit conducted by the state, the repercussion (a mandatory reappraisal order) could cost the county at least a half million dollars.

Prior then indicated she and her fellow staff members had been "playing catchup and cleanup" since she took office in 1999 and said a situation that has been worsening with the passage of each year has finally reached the critical stage.

As a result, Prior listed several steps she intends to take to see that her office gets up to speed and compiles the appropriate information necessary to ensure the county passes the looming state audit.

Included in the list were proposals for hiring outside, temporary professionals to assist with property inspections, renting or leasing an additional vehicle to supplement the two being used by current staff, temporarily closing the assessor's office Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. and having all calls received during those hours directed to an answering machine.

Last but not least on Prior's list was the request that her office be appropriated a greater amount of money in subsequent county budgets in order to avoid such hardships in the future.

At the suggestion that her office may need more money this year because the expense to pursue her intended schedule will probably exceed the allotted budget, Commissioner Bill Downey offered Prior a reminder that state statutes forbid such "last-minute" practices.

Prior responded by saying past requests to the board for additional funds had been answered with "Who's turn is it?" and that she wasn't implying it was "her turn," only that something needed to be done in a hurry to avoid a costly disaster.

When Mary Weiss, county attorney, asked Prior if the county passed the last audit, Prior answered, "Yes, but we're barely squeaking by on this."

Prior said things may be different this year because state auditors are scheduled to pay an initial visit Monday and, thus far, her office isn't prepared to give them all the information they will seek.

Prior explained her office is an estimated 500 field inspections short of where it needs to be, particularly in the areas of residential and vacant properties, and again alluded to the possible need for more funding.

When Downey asked where she thought additional, not-in-the-budget money might come from to accomplish her goal, Prior answered, "Where would you come up with the money for a reappraisal order?"

Alden Ecker, board chairman, suggested the issue be discussed in a workshop so that he and his fellow board members could explore the situation and gain a better understanding of how the assessor's office goes about its daily business.

But Prior answered, "We're under the gun, now."

"You want an answer today?" asked Commissioner Mamie Lynch.

Prior reiterated she would appreciate guidance as to what she could do in the short term to avoid requesting an inflated amount of money in order to fund a reappraisal order down the road.

When Bill Steele, county administrator, asked her what she estimated a short-term fix would cost, Prior said she guessed the amount to be approximately $50,000.

Further discussion among the board presented no suggestions. "I don't know where the money would come from in either scenario," said Lynch, "Frankly, I'm in a quandary."

The board acknowledged that perhaps every county department is facing a budget crunch and deserves more funds, but said state law puts restrictions on what funding avenues county governments can pursue, making it difficult to budget what the board would like.

"I don't know whether we have to put on magic hats or what to see where we can come up with money," said Ecker, adding, "I don't see any way to fix this problem today or next week."

Prior then explained she would try to work within her current budget, but expressed doubts about what would happen if the money well dried up during midsummer.

Weiss voiced concern, saying that might prove to be the case and argued against spontaneously tapping funds for hiring "(outside) people who weren't included in the budget."

Lynch agreed, saying she was not in support of trying to adopt an amendment to the budget "after the fact" but conveyed she wasn't sure if there were any alternatives.

"But she has a job to do," said Ecker.

"Everyone in this courthouse has a job to do," replied Weiss.

Members of the public - seemingly amused by the predicament - wondered aloud if anything would be decided before the end of the meeting.

After a brief discussion resulting in more open-ended questions, the board chairman summed up what seemed to be the general consensus of the commissioners with one final comment.

"I don't know what to say," said Ecker.

With no immediate solution presenting itself, the board thanked Prior for the information, and the issue was left undecided after a motion to adjourn carried unanimously.

 

Second health district board member resigns

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Upper San Juan Health Service District Board Member Kay Grams called for the release of district manager Dee Jackson and the recall of the entire board at a special meeting Feb. 26 - right after resigning from the board herself.

"I can no longer in good faith participate as a member of this board," she said, accusing the board of breaking the state's open meeting laws and failing to listen to employees after months and months of complaints. "I have never served on a board that operates - or doesn't operate at all - like this board."

"Don't do it, Kay," several member of the audience responded. But Grams, elected in November 2002, remained firm. Her resignation was the second in just over a week and one of many emotional swings during the two-hour special meeting called to discuss a report presented by an independent conflict resolution consultant hired in January.

Peg Christian, of Durango, was hired by the board after several months of employee complaints revolving around a lack of trust, respect and communication between management and employees. In an attempt to root out the "real" problems, she interviewed employees, management, the board and interested community members in small groups, compiled the information and presented her analysis to the board and employees.

The report listed four areas of concern: employee morale, management structure and process, interpersonal professional relationships and quality of patient care.

"A culture of conflict and indirect communication is rife and must be addressed immediately and jointly by employees, managers and the board," Christian wrote. "The level of distrust of the district manager by employees is such that the board may want to consider a 'probationary period' for the manager and all employees with regard to personal interactions. This should only be undertaken in conjunction with the recommendations that follow. Otherwise this 'probationary period' is sure to exacerbate currently inflamed relations."

Christian's recommendations included immediately appointing interim managers for the clinic and EMS operations. These managers would be selected by a consensus of employees in the different divisions and report directly to the board. The interim would last for six months, during which time, Christian suggests, the managers and the board would work to create job descriptions for those positions. She also suggested restructuring the board by removing board member Dick Babillis. He resigned before the report was read.

Other recommendations were: to begin communication skills education immediately, set up "healing circles" to start repairing hurts and work on one-year and long-term goals for the district.

The meeting was set to further discuss the report, to allow the board to receive input from employees and the public and to clarify any questions. However, the main questions were not aimed at the report, but at the board.

Kate Jackson, an EMS employee, said the report was excellent. "I think she gleaned a very accurate assessment of the feelings of the employees of this district," she said. Her primary questions, and those of several others who spoke were: Is the board going to accept the report? And what is the timeline for implementation of the recommendations?

"Many of us have received the information, certainly digested this and made some observations," said Don Lundergan, a community member who has attended several board meetings in recent months and supports the recommendations in the consultant's report. "I'm surprised the board is not saying yes or no or at least expressing some opinions."

Individually, the board members, with the exception of Grams, who also voiced her support for the consultant's plan, and Martha Garcia, who was not in attendance, said they had made no decisions regarding the report.

"I am here tonight to hear from all different aspects of the community," board member Ken Morrison said. "I'm just here to help and I would say so is every other board member. I think we all have the best interests of Archuleta County and the district at heart."

Several people asked if the board had started to look at the costs associated with the plan, such as funding for two interim managers and Christian's continued participation as a mediator.

"No," members of the board said.

Jackson, district manager, did hire an interim EMS operations manager in the week between the board's regular meeting and the special meeting.

Kathleen Conway, a paramedic with the district, was tapped for the interim post. Conway has been with the district since 1992. During that time, she served as inventory officer, training officer and, most recently, ropes coordinator. She is also a volunteer firefighter with the Pagosa Fire Protection District, a member of Upper San Juan Search and Rescue, part of the Local Emergency Planning Committee in Durango and part of the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing team. Her six-month stint as interim manager started Feb. 24.

Jackson said when two of the four candidates slated for onsite interviews to fill the permanent position pulled out due to the current crisis between management and employees, she decided to go ahead and appoint an interim. Jackson's contract gives her hiring and firing power in the district.

Terri Clifford, public information officer for EMS, pointed out the move was another example of the unilateral decision-making that's caused so much unrest and goes directly against the consultant's recommendations.

"I'm hearing you say that you don't have a problem with who was put in the position, but how it was done," Christian, who moderated the meeting, said.

"Yes," Clifford said. The district board has yet to determine whether or not to follow Christian's recommendations.

A total of two suggestions, besides going ahead with the recommendations of the consultant, were made by attendees at the meeting - putting EMS under the umbrella of the Pagosa Fire Protection District and separating the Doctor Mary Fisher Medical Center out of the district into an independent clinic.

J.R. Ford, another community member in attendance, asked both sides to "step back and take a breath," pointing out that the district's finances had just started to come around when the crisis in communication came up.

"We're in a bad spot, but back off here and let them (the board) make a decision," he said.

Following the discussion, the board set a second special meeting for March 5 to discuss the issues and perhaps come to a decision on the next step. Because that meeting falls after the SUN's deadline, results will be printed in the March 13 edition.

 

Director admits erring with e-mail

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

It was the straw that broke the board member's back.

Kay Grams, a member of the Upper San Juan Health Service District Board until she resigned in February, said when board members began breaking Colorado's open meetings law by communicating with each other via e-mail, enough was enough.

"I have resigned," Grams said near the conclusion of a Feb. 26 special district meeting. "I cannot do unlawful things. I have only my honor and the reputation of myself and my husband."

When the board was questioned about the e-mails by a member of the audience, member Ken Morrison admitted sending a series of electronic messages to other board members.

"I didn't know it could be considered a meeting," he said. When he received a legal opinion to that effect from the district's law firm, he said, the messaging stopped immediately.

"Kay, thank you for calling this attorney for this opinion," Morrison's last e-mail read. "All, this will be my last e-mail to more than one person at a time. I had no idea that to discuss an issue without any intent of any kind to make any decision could be a meeting that someone might question. I'm done. Thanks, Ken."

In general, the e-mails which were sent to five or six board members at a time, discussed individual board members' reactions to a report read by conflict resolution consultant Peg Christian at the Feb. 18 regular board meeting and possible solutions to the current problems between employees and management.

Grams requested the legal opinion from the district's attorney, Collins, Cockrel and Cole, of Denver on Feb. 25. Prior to the request, she said, she made no comments on the e-mails - all of which were apparently sent and received from Feb. 19-25 - or about the e-mails to the other board members.

The definition of a regular meeting, according to Colorado Revised Statute 24-6-402(1)(b) is "any kind of gathering convened to discuss public business, in person, by telephone, electronically, or by other means of communication."

Electronic meetings are also specifically discussed in the 24-6-402(2)(d)(III) Colorado Revised Statutes. The statutes point out that electronic communication between elected officials discussing pending legislation or other public business is covered under open meetings law. As a result, such discussions should be posted and the public is entitled to attend by receiving copies of the e-mail.

For Grams, "I didn't know," is simply inexcusable. She said it is the responsibility of elected officials to read the information given them when they take the oath, including state statutes relating to their position and responsibilities.

Grams said the violation of the open meetings law was one of several issues that bothered her. For instance, she said, the board had never received an itemized list of bills paid per month, a common part of the financial check-and-balance system used by most boards, until she requested it. They also allow the district manager to attend all executive sessions, a move that makes Grams uncomfortable.

However, according to the SUN's research, special district boards may invite whomever they desire into executive session for all or part of the session.

According to an outline of the Colorado Open Meetings Law prepared by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, an executive session is "a closed meeting which is attended only by the members of the public body and, in some cases, by attorneys, witnesses, or persons who are the subject to the meeting or action to be taken by the body or other persons invited by the body."

 

Six candidates make home rule ballot cut

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

The ballot has been set and the voters' first chance to tackle the home rule question is a little more than a month away.

Home rule is an option for local government organization under the Colorado State Constitution. Currently, Pagosa Springs is a statutory municipality. That means that all of its government organization, including the number of members of the board of trustees, terms and structure of government is dictated by state statute.

Under home rule, residents of the town would vote on a charter, a document written by residents to organize government structure in a way that fits the local needs.

Jackie Schick, town clerk, said a total of six candidates for the home rule charter commission, the group responsible for writing the charter, have filed petitions. They include: Mayor Ross Aragon, Darrel Cotton, Judy James, Bill Whitbred and Jerry Jackson, all current members of the Pagosa Springs Board of Trustees, and John Steinert.

Residents of the Town of Pagosa Springs will have a chance to vote on these six candidates and the question of whether or not to move forward with the home rule process during a special town election April 8.

Everyone is encouraged to come out and vote. However, the deadline to register to vote in this special election is March 10, just four days away. Anyone who has lived within town boundaries for at least 30 days is eligible to register.

The April 8 special election is just the first of many steps toward becoming a home rule municipality.

Voters will face two questions. First, they will vote on whether or not to move forward with the home rule process. This only lets the town take the first step. It does not guarantee anything will change within the town's governing structure. Second, voters will choose members of the charter commission. Should these items pass, the charter commission will have 120 days to write a charter that would become the town's governing document.

The charter then goes before the Pagosa Springs Board of Trustees and the residents of the town for a second vote. Only if this charter is approved does the town become a home rule municipality. If the charter fails to pass, it's back to the drawing board and Pagosa remains a statutory town.

A total of 84 municipalities in the state, including Durango, Denver and Rico, operate under home rule charters. Some are short and simple. Others are long and involved. All may be amended by voters at a later date and only cover local concerns. Federal laws and state statutes addressing matters of statewide concern still apply.

By law, the charter commission must have nine members. If voters give the go-ahead to move forward with home rule and writing the charter, another three residents of the town will be appointed to the commission by the board of trustees.

 

Weather

Date High Low Precip.
Type
Depth Moisture

2/26

34

20

S

6.50

1.71

2/27

33

24

S

7.50

1.57

2/28

32

26

S

1.00

.20

3/1

36

11

-

-

-

3/2

34

9

-

-

-

3/3

45

12

-

-

-

3/4

35

14

S

.75

.16

Sun to return to Pagosa Country as snow shifts north

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

After benefitting from nearly two weeks of overcast skies and abundant snowfall brought on by a much-needed parade of wet weather systems marching in from the West Coast, Pagosa Country will have to be content to bask in a little late-winter sunshine - at least through the weekend.

According to Mike Chamberlain, a forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction, the pattern of low-pressure systems that dominated the Four Corners region in late February is temporarily shifting to the north.

"There continues to be a chance for light snow showers over the northern mountain ranges, but the southern ranges should stay relatively dry, probably through Sunday," said Chamberlain.

Will wet weather return before the thick layer of white covering the countryside gives way to the previous pattern of browns? According to Chamberlain, there is a possibility the area could receive additional moisture as early as Monday.

"After Sunday, the weather model indicates some degree of uncertainty as things look to become a little more unsettled in the early part of next week, which could mean rain or snow," said Chamberlain. "Until then, it looks like mostly sunny to partly cloudy for the southern reaches of the state."

According to Chamberlain, a few passing clouds will be the norm through this morning and into tonight. Highs are predicted to range from the upper 30s to mid 40s while lows should settle into the mid-20s.

Friday and Saturday call for continued partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid 40s. Lows are expected to register in the middle teens to low 20s.

A few clouds are in the forecast for Sunday, as is a slight warming trend; highs will climb into the low 50s while lows will dip into the 20s.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday have the potential to be carbon copies of one another as the forecast predicts partly cloudy skies, highs in the upper 40s, lows in the 20s and a slight chance for rain or snow each day.

Skiers traveling to Wolf Creek Ski Area will encounter a 111-inch summit base and midway depth of 106 inches. Year-to-date snowfall for the area amounts to 285 inches.

The state's snowpack level has reached 87 percent of normal, and area river basins are experiencing their highest levels since early December. Snowpack in the Upper San Juan Basin climbed to 94 percent of average early this week; snowpack at the summit of Wolf Creek Pass topped off at 80 percent of average.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center rates the avalanche risk level on San Juan Mountain slopes exceeding 35 percent grade as "considerable" and risk levels on lesser slopes as "moderate."

The average high temperature last week was 36; the average low was 17. Total precipitation/moisture for the week amounted to 3.64 inches while snowfall in the past seven days amounted to 15.75 inches.

The record high temperature for Pagosa in the month of March, a sweltering 80 degrees, was recorded in 1940. The record low of minus 25 was recorded in 1966.

 

Sports Page
Parks & Rec

Public session March 19 on sports complex

By Joe Lister Jr.

SUN Columnist

The Pagosa Springs Parks and Recreation Department will host a public meeting March 19 at 4 p.m. to receive input from potential users of a new sports complex and park.

All interested parties should attend. At the last meeting we had a great neighborhood contingent there, as well as a great turnout from the skateboard community.

We have artist renderings at Town Hall for the public to take home and study, so we can get good positive input for the consultant.

EDAW, the consulting firm hired to do the job, will take the information and put a plan together for the parks advisory board, which will then give a recommendation to the town trustees for approval.

My job as director will be to research the possibilities of grants, in-kind contributions, and private donations to help fund the building of the sports complex.  With funding at the state level happening every 2-3 years or so, we feel that we can start building the facility in phases to help our dreams of a new park become a reality.

Proud of Pagosa

I had the privilege to attend the IML basketball tournament in Ignacio last weekend.  Pagosa Springs made me very proud.

We had the best behaved, most disciplined teams at the tournament.

The coaches who grew up here, learned the game, or even played youth sports here, represented Pagosa in a great way. Bob Lynch, Fred Martinez, Randy Sorenson, Wes Lewis, all played youth sports here in Pagosa; to take the time to give back to the community is just a great feeling.

You take a look at the junior high programs and the same thing holds true: locally grown coaches all on the same page, teaching fundamentals, sportsmanship, and giving kids a fair shot at playing the games they love. 

Credit must go to all coaches - those who were raised here and those who moved here, took on Pagosa Springs as their home town, and brought more knowledge and great respect to the game of basketball.

Thank you coaches and parents for getting involved. I can't wait to cheer on those Pirates, whatever sport they are playing.

Trails council

The Pagosa Area Trails Council is also in the middle of master plan development.

A public meeting was held last week at Town Hall. Over 20 people attended the meeting, with some very positive feedback for the consultants to hash over.

The consultants will try to develop a 20-30 year plan for trails in town and the county, with ties to forest service areas for recreation and as alternate transportations links around the metro area. 

Pagosa Springs, Archuleta County and the Pagosa Lakes Property Association have all been supportive of the endeavors of Pagosa Springs Area Trails Council.  The council is headed by John Applegate, who has put in countless hours trying to help organize everyone so Pagosa Country stays ahead of the game. We do not want to paint ourselves in a corner and realize 20 years from now that we have no plan.

 

Despite loss, Pirates will host playoff opener

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Murphy's Law: the proposition that if something can go wrong, it will — and if you were a Pirate fan, coach or player Saturday night, chances are that prophecy rang true.

If there were any Pagosans inside — or outside — the Sun Ute Recreation Center who were unfamiliar with how the Murphy rule works before the varsity boys tipped off against host Ignacio, the experience proved to be very enlightening.

Many of the Pagosa faithful who made the hour-long journey fully expecting to gain admission to the Intermountain League tourney championship game were literally left out in the cold once the site director barred the entrances because the inadequate building had reached maximum capacity.

Others clad in black and gold who were fortunate enough to make it through the door never made it to the bleachers and were forced to awkwardly window shop the game from the second level. In some cases, fans were still required to pay the full price of admission.

Some had already paid to watch the Lady Pirates prevail over Bayfield earlier that afternoon and had given up their seats to Centauri and Ignacio girls' fans at the request of site officials who indicated they would eventually get the seats back when the boys took the court later that night. But come game time, many weren't awarded a return trip.

If you count yourself among the minority who actually took temporary residence inside a hostile, relatively cramped and stuffy gymnasium dominated by vocal Ignacio fans, you already know Coach Jim Shaffer and his Pirate cagers were smitten with the same sort of "luck" throughout the evening.

Never on track, seemingly out of character and frustrated from the opening tip, Shaffer's troops fell victim to a continuous Bobcat barrage of three-point bombs, and the resulting crater proved too deep for escape.

Ignacio's Lorenzo Rodriguez started the air campaign with a trey to open up a permanent Bobcat lead at 3-0. The Pirates turned the ball over on their first four possessions before junior Clayton Spencer got an inside deuce to make it 2-3.

Andre Mattox put up two for Ignacio, and the Pirate woes continued in the opening minutes as they squandered numerous opportunities to take the lead, missing bread-and-butter layups and mishandling the ball repeatedly as they struggled to find a rhythm.

After a Shaffer timeout with 4:38 on the first-quarter clock, the Pirates kept pace with the Bobcats with baskets from Spencer and senior Jason Schutz and trailed 6-7 with just over three minutes left in the period.

But the Pirates couldn't shake the turnover bug and Ignacio's Laramy Miller, Dewayne Reynolds and Ben Neil capitalized on the giveaways to put up seven straight for the Bobcats to make it 14-6 late in the first.

A temporary, first-quarter bright spot gleamed on the court for the Pirates when Miller fouled Pagosa's Caleb Forrest at the buzzer. The sophomore hit one of two from the stripe, and the Pirates trailed 7-14 to open the second quarter.

But the Pirates misfired on several inside chances early in the period, juggled passes and got only an occasional free throw or basket while Ignacio continued to methodically work the ball around the perimeter, pulling the trigger from behind the arc at every opportunity.

Olin Goodtracks and Chris Phillips were on target throughout the quarter and when teammate Rodriguez converted at the two-minute mark on a wild baseline flip, the Bobcat lead swelled to 18.

Schutz and Spencer were able to dent the lead with a basket each before the half, but the Pirates entered the locker room down 18-32.

The Pirates began the second half without the services of starting point guard Brandon Charles, who was sidelined the remainder of the game for disciplinary reasons.

Nevertheless, Pagosa guards Jeremy Caler and Ryan Goodenberger provided an early spark for Pagosa in the third with a respective deuce and trey to trim the lead to 23-32.

However, any hints of a comeback soon evaporated as Miller scored two and Rodriguez three to extend the Bobcat lead back to double digits at 23-37.

Schutz answered on the inside for Pagosa with four straight but the Bobcats continued to launch deep, successful treys to pull away.

Ty Faber nailed two from the line for Pagosa after a hard foul and Forrest added a deuce, but at the end of three Ignacio was up 48-31.

Even though the Pirates got a strong all-around performance from Schutz, determined hustle from David Kern and a 10-point outburst from Caler in the fourth period, more Ignacio sharpshooting from three-point land sealed the Pirates' fate.

Reynolds' trey at the buzzer ended the game 69-53 in favor of the Bobcats and provided the exclamation point for a contest that had most Pirate fans crying "Foul!" before it even started.

Schutz led Pagosa with 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, Caler had 12 points and Forrest 11 in the loss, the third of the Pirates' season.

On the upside, because they chalked up an impressive 17 victories this season to overshadow only three losses (all to ranked opponents), over the weekend Shaffer and the Pirates were awarded the eighth overall seed in the 32-team bracket for the Class 3A state tournament and will stay home to open the playoffs in the Pagosa Springs High School gymnasium.

Following a 5 p.m., first-round contest between No. 9 seed Lake County (19-3) and No. 24 seed Roosevelt (10-13), the Pirates will start their bid for a state title tomorrow night at 7 p.m. against No. 25 seed Manitou Springs (12-12).

If the Pirates eliminate Manitou Springs, they will face the winner of the Lake County-Roosevelt contest Saturday in a 1 p.m., Sweet-16 battle (same location) for the right to advance to the Great 8 (scheduled March 13 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs).

Tickets can be purchased at the door the day of each game (no advance sales) and will cost $5 for adults and $4 for students and senior citizens.

 

Ladies convert charity into trip to state playoffs

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

They started their day Saturday in their home gymnasium - shooting free throws.

After hitting only 12 of 24 from the charity stripe in their district tournament opening round victory over Monte Vista, the Pagosa Springs Lady Pirates were sent into the extra practice by coach Bob Lynch.

And what a difference a day makes.

Or, perhaps Lynch had some kind of premonition that his squad would get a workout at the stripe.

As it was, they went to the line 37 times and hit 25 of them in a 53-48 victory over Bayfield Saturday afternoon.

That victory sends Pagosa into state playoff action, carrying the No. 21 seed into the Regional Friday against the Kent Denver Lady Sun Devils from the Metropolitan League.

Pagosa enters the fray with a 12-9 season record. Kent, with the No. 12 seed, is 19-3.

Getting into the playoffs was no easy task for the Lady Pirates, thanks mostly to the efforts of the Lady Wolverines Jamie Hill and Lacy Beck who combined for 26 of their team's points.

But, in addition to the free throw revival, Pagosa got continued great defensive play and some outstanding performances from both the usual and not so usual sources.

The contest began slowly as each squad could muster only three points in the first four minutes, all of Pagosa's on free throws by 6-2 sophomore center Caitlyn Jewell and Bayfield's on a three-pointer by Jackie Shaw. But Hill matched Jewell's free throws and Jewell matched Beck's field goal. Reserve center, 5-11 freshman Emily Buikema scored another Pagosa field goal but Ashley Hahn countered with two free throws for Bayfield and the Lady Wolverines led 10-8 after one.

Beck hit a trey to open the second period and the lead was up to five - until sophomore forward Bri Scott answered with a three-pointer of her own.

Shaw answered with a driving layup but Pagosa senior captain Katie Bliss, celebrating her 18th birthday, countered with a field goal and was fouled. She hit the charity toss to give Pagosa its first lead at 17-16.

But Bayfield suddenly found Hill inside and she converted two quick field goals to snatch the lead back. Bayfield's senior center, Kim Picoli, got her only field goal of the game and a pair of free throws to stretch the lead again.

Shannon Walkup got two back for Pagosa with a drive in the lane and Lori Walkup picked up two more from the charity stripe. Then it was Mollie Honan converting a pair from the stripe before Hill and Shaw each got a free throw to give Bayfield a 27-23 lead at the half.

Coach Lynch told his girls at the break to increase the pressure defense, to deny the shots.

It worked like a charm. With hands in their faces and Lady Pirate feet seemingly a step faster than their own, Bayfield's attackers were denied and denied again in second half shot attempts. Their trademark pick-and-roll offense stalled repeatedly and only a long trey by Hahn broke the spell.

Shannon Walkup drove the lane for a pair, Bliss hit another short jumper and Jewell had two buckets inside before Picoli got a pair of free throws for Bayfield and Cassie Dunavant scored inside.

When Lori Walkup hit a pair of free throws, Pagosa had the lead again and held it 35-34 at the end of the period.

The fourth quarter was a parade to the stripe for Pagosa, which converted 13 of 16, and Hill scoring eight for Bayfield before fouling out.

Surprisingly, the Wolverines were whistled for only three more fouls than Pagosa, 23-20, but went to the line only 28 times compared to the 37 for Pagosa. Bayfield hit 17 of their attempts.

Scott had six points for the game but none more important than her three free throws in the final stanza.

After a number of lead changes, most resulting from charity tosses, Scott gave Pagosa a four-point margin at 52-48 with just 28 seconds left on the clock.

Lori Walkup was five for five from the line in the period and nine for 12 in the game. With 11 points, she had only one field goal and, in fact, attempted only three.

Her sister, senior point guard and co-captain Shannon, matched her sister's output in the period, getting two from the line and a long trey.

Mollie Honan, playing what may have been her finest all-around game ever, had four points in the final period, six for the game and six rebounds, three at each end, to lead the team along with Lori.

Jewell and Bliss each had five boards and the underdog Lady Pirates forced their way into the playoffs.

Coach Lynch, before the game, had said, "We want to keep playing. These girls have continuously fought their way back from disappointment this year. We want a win. Then put us on a bus and point us in the right direction."

The direction, coach, is north to Basalt where Pagosa will meet Kent Denver at 5 p.m. Friday.

A victory would send Pagosa into action at 1 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the 7 p.m. Friday game between Basalt and Denver Christian for a spot in the Class 3A Great Eight.

For the game, Pagosa shot 13 of 31 from the field for just under 42 percent. Bayfield also had 13 field goals, but they came on 47 attempts, for 27 percent.

Pagosa outrebounded their foes 29-19 but, in the only bad statistic for the game, had 23 turnovers to Bayfield's seven. Only two of those, however, came in the final period as Pagosa was forging the victory.

The Lady Pirates also had 12 steals in the game, including six by Lori Walkup.

And, Pagosa had three blocked shots, one each by Shannon Walkup which was a key with 14 seconds left, and by Jewell and Buikema.

Summary

Scoring: Scott, 1-6, 3-4, 6; S. Walkup, 3-5, 2-2, 9; Honan, 1-3, 4-4, 6; L. Walkup, 1-3, 9-12, 11; Bliss, 2-2, 1-3, 5; Jewell, 4-8, 6-11, 14; Buikema, 1-2, 2; Kelly, 0-1, 0. Rebound leaders: Honan and S. Walkup 6 each, Jewell and Bliss 5 each. Steals leaders: L. Walkup, 6, S. Walkup and Scott, 2 each. Assists leaders: S. Walkup 4, Honan 3. Blocks: S. Walkup, Jewell and Buikema 1 each.

 

Lady Pirates disprove third meeting jinx

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

They came into the game knowing that if they wanted to continue in the season, this game was a must.

But, it has been proven in prep sports that it is hard to beat the same team three times in a single season.

Thus, Monte Vista posed a challenge for Pagosa's Lady Pirates: Win and you stay alive, lose and your season's finished.

If they won, they knew at game time, they'd have to face Bayfield's Lady Wolverines, also for the third time this season.

Bayfield had lost to Ignacio in the earlier game of the district tournament at the Sun Ute rec-center in Ignacio Friday. The higher seed, the Bayfield squad was prepared to meet the winner of the clash between Pagosa and Monte Vista.

The game began with Monte

Vista's Amanda Miles hitting the first of her four three-pointers in the game en route to being the leading scorer in the contest with 18.

When Tabitha Guttierez also rammed in a trey, the last seed was up 6-0 and Pagosa fans were beginning to worry.

No need. The Walkup sisters galloped to the rescue. First, it was senior point guard Shannon drilling a 10-foot jumper to get Pagosa on the board.

Then her sophomore sister, Lori, followed suit with an 8-foot leaner and then drilled the first of her two treys in the game to put Pagosa up 7-6.

Jen Sisneros, the usual long- range bomber for Monte Vista, hit a driving layup to give her team the lead at 8-7.

But, as the period wound down, sophomore center Caitlyn Jewell was fouled while shooting and hit both free throws to give Pagosa a 9-8 lead at the end of one period.

They were never to be headed again.

Despite two more threes by Miles in the second period, Pagosa outscored their foes 14-6 in the stanza to take a 22-14 lead into the locker room at half time.

Again, it was the Walkup sisters keying the effort. Lori swished another long trey and a driving layup. Shannon hit two free throws and two short jumpers in the lane.

And another member of the super soph brigade, Bri Scott, hit a three from deep on the wing.

Throughout the half, Pagosa had continued a swarm defense that had all Monte Vista shooters off guard. Miles, despite her two treys, was only two for eight in the quarter and ended up just five for 21 from the floor for the game.

Her sister, Mary Beth, who had been the leading scorer against Pagosa in a one-point loss a week earlier, was held scoreless and Sisneros, who fires threes with abandon, had only two field goals in the game.

In fact, she seemed to be disconcerted with the unusually high ceiling structure in the Ute center and her shots were consistently way off target.

The third period was a 13-8 stanza for Pagosa with Jewell and Scott paving the way with four points each and Shannon and Lori each adding a field goal.

Going to a ball control offense for most of the fourth period, Pagosa still managed a 12-9 margin and a final score of 47-31.

Jewell led Pagosa's offense in the quarter, scoring five points on a single field goal and three more foul shots. Shannon and freshman Emily Buikema each added three points and Scott a single free throw.

Only four Monte Vista players scored. Guttierrez added seven to Miles' 18, Sisneros had four and Rachel Cannon two.

As a team, Monte Vista hit only 11 of 43 field goal attempts, a fraction over 25 percent. Pagosa was a little more accurate, hitting 16 of 44 for 36 percent.

But, the Pagosa Lady Pirates shot only 12 of 24 from the foul line, a percentage which was to draw them an extra practice session the next morning before returning to Ignacio to face Bayfield.

"We have to be able to hit from the foul line," coach Bob Lynch told his team. "We need all the margin we can get and missing free throws dissipates the opportunity to establish that margin."

Still, he was happy with the performance of his team, particularly on defense, and with the balanced scoring.

One of the oddities of the game was that the sister pairs, Lori and Shannon Walkup of Pagosa the Miles sisters of Monte Vista, each produced 10 rebounds.

Shannon had four and Lori six. Amanda and Mary Beth each had five.

The Walkups had 25 of Pagosa's 47 points. Amanda Miles had 18 of Monte's 31.

Rebounding, too, was heavily in favor of Pagosa. Jewell had eight to lead all players as Pagosa outrebounded Monte Vista 28-18.

Summary

Scoring: Scott 2-10, 3-4, 8; S. Walkup 5-12, 3-7, 13; L. Walkup 5-9, 0-4, 12; Jewell 3-10, 58, 11; Buikema 1-2, 1-1, 3. Rebound leaders: Jewell 8, L. Walkup 6, S. Walkup and Bliss 4 each. Steals leaders: L. Walkup 7, S. Walkup 2. Assists leaders: Jewell 3, S. Walkup and Honan 2 each;. Blocks: L. Walkup and Bliss 1 each.

 

Lady kickers hope to open Saturday in Montrose

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

The wingback, her coach exhorting "Go wide, go wide," cut to her left, darted forward, and suddenly found herself on her back in a pile of snow.

So went practice for the Lady Pirate soccer team Tuesday.

Working in six to eight inches of snow with an oversize ball - perhaps three times the normal soccer ball size - the girls confidently prepared for a trip to Montrose where they are scheduled for a 1 p.m. game Saturday.

You wouldn't have known it from the conditions in Pagosa Tuesday, but all indications are the game on the upper Western Slope will have dry conditions.

Coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason, still minus several players who are involved in state basketball playoffs, is anxious for his charges to get some exposure to other teams.

"It's tough to just keep playing against yourselves, often in inclement weather," he said. "These girls need a chance to put their game into action against a real opponent."

A planned trip to participate in a six-team scrimmage in Canon City last weekend was weathered out.

Without all the girls he expects to have by the time the league season opens, Kurt-Mason has not yet named a starting lineup but several veterans have made every practice and are anxious to get the season underway.

Key among the returnees are three-time all-conference striker senior Meagan Hilsabeck, two-time all-conference junior attacker Melissa Diller, fleet left wing senior Tricia Lucero and goalkeeper Sierra Fleenor.

Right winger, sophomore

Bri Scott is a member of the varsity basketball team still in playoff competition.

Others looking for considerable playing time are Jenna Finney, Brittany Sousa, Lacy Beam, the standout defensive sweeper tandem of Sara Smith and Sara Aupperle, along with Bret Garman and Christina Lungstrom.

The Ladies are scheduled for their second nonconference action with a 2 p.m. game Monday in Durango.

A revised schedule for the Ladies includes a home game at 4 p.m. March 13 against Denver West; a home game the following day against Telluride at the same time; a road game March 18 at 4 p.m. in Bayfield; and a 4 p.m. road game March 21 in Ridgway.

Conference action resumes April 1 with a 4 p.m. road game in Ignacio.

Then the ladies will be home for games on consecutive days against Cortez at 5 p.m. April 10, Ridgway at 4 p.m. April 11 and against Center an noon April 12.

Ignacio comes to town at 4 p.m. April 15 and then the girls go on the road to Salida for a 4 p.m. game April 18 and to Center for a noon game April 26.

Yet to be scheduled are return games against league foes Telluride and Bayfield.

 

Special Olympians have double doubles

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Special Olympics competitors are a breed apart and Pagosa Springs had the cream of the crop for the winter games Feb. 23-25 at Copper Mountain.

In fact, Pagosa Springs' Special Olympics ski team had a double gold winner and a double silver winner.

Delta Buck was 15 seconds faster than any other competitor in the event, with a combined time of 1 minute, 42 seconds, for the giant slalom and slalom.

And that, said coach Mark Wagner, was just .48 off the record time for the slope, a time set by a professional skier.

The other big winner, coming home with double silver, was Patrick Waggener. His times were on the novice run, and the coach said he did not have the official stats.

The Special Olympics organization presented plaques to Wolf Creek Ski Area and to Pagosa Ski Rentals for what Wagner called "long running, outstanding support for the program and the youth involved therein."

And, he said, the organization will inaugurate an equestrian program this year, adding to the swimming, golf and fishing competitions already sponsored.

He said the organization wants the people of Pagosa to know how much their support is appreciated and that "we have a winning team here, one which we want the people to be more aware of."

Assistant coaches this year were Paul Midgely and Nancy Walls, with Bob Heminger and Jeff and Barb Schmitt acting as volunteer assistants.

 

Pirates ready to open diamond season today

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

The hitters were working in the batting cage, trying in the dimly lighted back room of the vocational education building to get their timing down.

Outside in the high school parking lot, the pitchers and catchers were working to limber up in a stiff wind, under 30 degree temperatures and blowing snow.

It was Tuesday afternoon and the Pagosa Springs High School baseball team was trying to get in shape to open the season today in Kirtland, N.M.

Yep. The game was still scheduled and coach Tony Scarpa's minions were chomping at a very cold bit hoping to get decent playing weather.

They've been practicing since Feb. 18, save the few who are still involved in basketball, and they have yet to meet an opponent on the playing field.

Hopefully, today is that day.

Scarpa said the turnout has been good, the spirit exceptional, and, until the snows began over a week ago, were getting some fielding practice.

"Now," said Scarpa, "We have to hope they can remember how it was last year when we were in the playoffs on real grass."

He's hopeful that the pitchers arms stay as live as they've been in practice and that hitters can see the ball in real sunlight.

Fielding could be a challenge, because the squad will not have had actual practice until they take the field for pregame workout today.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Scarpa had not yet named a starting lineup, nor had uniforms been issued. He, in fact, was in the coaches' storage room sorting out the uniforms.

Game time in Kirtland today is 5 p.m.

 

Mardi Gras ski races produce fast times

The weekly fun races at Wolf Creek Ski Area Saturday had a holiday flavor - the Mardi Gras event.

Picabo Lemon of Pagosa Springs, racing in girls 9-11 had the fastest time for a female participant, completing the course in 31.46 seconds. Fastest male time was by Whane Harley of Albuquerque, racing in men's 51-60, who completed the course in 28.05.

Other top times for female racers included a remarkable 38.33 in girls 3-5 for Haley Robinson of Oklahoma; 55.05 for Ariel Caraway of Westlake, La., in girls 12-14; and 44.58 for Jessi Marlatt of New Zealand in girls 18-20.

Krista Anderson of Albuquerque was the top finisher in women's 21-25 with a run of 33.22 and two others Albuquerque women were tops in women's 26-30 - Nina Baum finishing in 34.77 and Hilary Lesue in 43.27.

In women's 31-35 Marty Huntington of Denver was tops in 32.93 and in women's 36-40, Jackie Donofrio of Fremont, Calif., was firs tin 42.97 with Denise Caraway of Westlake, La., second in 58.22.

In women's 41-50, Beth Tobin of Middlesex, N.J., was first in 40.95 and Linda Carter of Pagosa Springs second in 42.55. Carrie Weisz of Pagosa was first in women's 51-60, finishing in 33.72.

On the male side, Josh Robinson of Oklahoma was first in boys' 6-8, finishing in 56.90.

In boys' 9-11 Kamen Ange of Westlake, La., was first in 42.71, Kyle Monkz of Pagosa Springs second in 46.37 and Blake Duberry of Oklahoma third in 47.63.

Davis Ange of Westlake, La., was first in boys' 12-14 in 34.32 and Hade Ange of Westlake first in boys' 15-17 in 35.34.

In boys' 18-20 the top time was 37.78 by Nick Ox , of Scottsdale, Ariz., with Kyle Bartholomew of Pagosa Springs second in 39.80 and Dale Hewett of Pagosa Springs third in 34.95.

Billy Kern of South Fork won men's 21-25 in 34.37 with Ryan Herrington of Dallas second in 37.41. Jacob Gonzales of Dallas was first in men's 26-30 in 31.02, with Tim Duffy of Durango second in 32.80 and Shawn Smith of Pagosa Springs third in 34.95.

Al Choi of Denver captured men's 31-35 in 30.95 with Steve Galante, of Superior, second in 31.04 and Bart Respondek of Dallas third in 37 flat.

Herman Ator of Pagosa Springs was first in men's 36-40 with a time of 28.50. Ken Donofrio of Fremont, Calif., was second in 33.64 and Garry Tobin of Pennsylvania third in 37.32.

Paul Grosvenor of Albuquerque was first in men's 41-50 with a time of 28.26. John Hadfield of Delaware was second in 38.76 and John Tobin of Middlesex, N.J., third in 33.24.

Following Harley in men's 51-60 were Mike Evans of South Fork in 28.17 and Larry Fisher of Pagosa Springs in 28.51.

The men's 61 and over class was an all Pagosa Springs event with Dave Bryan first in 28.67, Ron

Chacey second in 29.21 and Glen Van Patter third in 30 flat.

 

 Obituaries

David Maestas

David R. Maestas, born in 1918, passed away in January at the Veterans' Hospital in Grand Junction. He was 84.

David is survived by two daughters, numerous grandchildren, nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by a sister, Estafanita Valdez , in 2001.

Rest in Peace, Tio.

Correction

Memorial contributions in honor of Louis Mendoza, whose obituary was published last week, can be sent to David Mendoza, PO Box 3927, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

Two digits in the box number were inadvertently transposed last week.

 

Inside The Sun

Benefit set for Carothers fund

Garrett Carothers, the 9-year-old boy mauled by two dogs Dec. 23 is recovering well, and has returned to school full time, with restrictions on recess and physical education.

His classmates accept Garrett and show support for him by wearing caps like his every day. That makes him feel comfortable and he wants to get on with everyday life.

To date, Garrett has undergone four surgeries to repair the damaged caused by the attack.

He has partial paralysis on the left side of his face and in the future will need a hair transplant where part of his scalp was torn off. He has also been referred to a dermatologist and diagnosed with seborrheic dermatitis, a common skin disorder associated with trauma and stress.

Garrett is covered by the Colorado Health Plan but the family has learned it does not cover 100 percent of expenses.

To date his medical expenses are about $78,000 and the health plan has covered about $17,000. The hair transplant will not be covered.

Garrett continues to receive encouragement from all over the United States and has received a card from Ecuador. The ages of supporters range from children to senior citizens.

He also is receiving counseling weekly and suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.

To help with Garrett's recovery, an auction is planned March 21 in the Pagosa Springs High School gymnasium.

If you have items you would like to donate for auction, you can contact Deanna at 731-9838, Cindy at 731-6500 or Kim at 264-3170. All proceeds will benefit Garrett's medical fund.

There are also support accounts set up at Vectra Bank and Bank of Colorado.

 

School director Lee transferred, resigns

Individuals who may be interested in serving on the board of directors for Archuleta School District 50 Joint, to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Russel Lee, can submit letters of interest to the district office.

Such letters may be delivered to the office at 309 Lewis St., or mailed to Supt. Duane Noggle, Archuleta School District 50 Joint, PO Box 1498, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

The board will schedule interviews with selected candidates at a date to be determined at the March 11 board meeting. For additional information, call the office at 264-2228.

The board will attempt to fill the vacancy with someone who lives in board district 2. It stretches both southwest and northwest from the intersection of U.S. 160 and Trails Boulevard. At least two persons have indicated an interest in filling the interim position.

Lee submitted his resignation to the administration Feb. 20, effectively immediately.

He notified the district he had been transferred by La Plata Electric from the Pagosa to the Durango office and will no longer be a resident of the Archuleta district.

A board member since 1995, Lee served as vice president of the board and was a strong advocate of the district's educational program.

Fellow board member Carol Feazel said, "Mr. Lee's expertise in financial analysis will be dearly missed and he will be difficult to replace."

That replacement will be by appointment to serve the remainder of the term which expires and will be on the ballot in November.

On behalf of the board and administration, Noggle expressed appreciation to Lee for his "dedication and service to the school district. We wish him the best as he assumes new responsibilities and relocates to the Durango area. Thank you, Mr. Lee, for your commitment to the children of Archuleta School District 50 Joint."

The board will be asked to formally accept the resignation March 11.

 

Entries flood town to name new park

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Forty-eight entries have already been received in the town's "name the Pocket Park contest."

About 20, Julie Jessen, administrative intern, told the Pagosa Springs Board of Trustees Tuesday, have come from the same person.

In the end, someone will have the distinction of naming Pagosa's newest park - the site of the old town hall at the corner of San Juan and Lewis streets. The park boasts a bell tower, public restroom, public parking, sign board for community events, trees, bushes and benches - but no name.

The contest is open until April 1 when the trustees will select a winner. The person whose idea is selected will receive a $100 gift certificate to be spent at a local business.

Contest forms can be picked up and turned in at Town Hall on Hot Springs Boulevard. They may also be mailed to Town Hall, P.O. Box 1859, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Entries should include, name, address and phone number. The contest is open to all ages.

 

Forest Service seeking contractor equipment for firefighting action

In preparation for the 2003 fire season, the San Juan National Forest is looking for contractors who have heavy equipment that can be used in fighting local wildland fires.

Typical equipment needed includes dozers, water trucks and excavators. Interested contractors are invited to meet with Forest Service contracting officers at the San Juan Public Lands Center March 20 and 21, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. to sign up their equipment.

Interested contractors must bring the following information for each piece of equipment:

- make, model, and year of equipment

- vehicle identification or serial number for equipment

- taxpayer ID number or Social Security number for tax purposes

- vehicle registration for vehicles (trucks, SUVs, sedans, etc.).

Equipment will be signed up on an Emergency Equipment Rental Agreement at established rates. The agreement does not obligate a contractor to provide the equipment when called nor does it guarantee the government will ever call for the equipment.

Each piece of equipment used must meet minimum standards; for example, a non-tactical water truck must have an eight-foot spray capability and dozers must have roll-over protection, a back-up warning device and lights.

While at the Public Lands Center, all contractors and anticipated equipment operators will be asked to watch the Standards for Survival videos. All equipment operators must watch these videos prior to working on the fire line.

General information regarding the agreements including the established rates, minimum equipment standards, and the wage rates that must be paid to employees while working on the fire are available by calling Joe Milburn at 385-1245 or via e-mail to jmilburn@fs.fed.us.

 

Board approves waiver for excavation

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Excavation for a 12-unit housing development at Zuni and 7th street can begin, as long as blasting isn't required.

The Pagosa Springs Board of Trustees approved a waiver to allow excavation so that Colorado Housing Inc. can determine if the site is viable for the planned development.

Under current town ordinances, sketch and preliminary plans for the site must be approved prior to excavation for a planned unit development.

Applicant Casey Caves said soil studies of the site have indicated a high level of rock and other issues that must be addressed. Engineers on the project recommended that "rough grading" be completed first to determine what kind of pad will be available for construction. Plans currently call for an average excavation depth of approximately 8 feet.

The Pagosa Springs Planning Commission recommended approval of the waiver provided the applicant notify neighbors, submit an engineered erosion plan, submit the soil study and secure a bond to cover rehabilitation of the site should it be unsuitable for development. All conditions had been met prior to Tuesday's meeting.

The board approved the waiver as long as blasting was not required. Should blasting be needed, Colorado Housing is required to submit a blast plan to the town in advance.

In other business:

- The board heard an update on the sign code revision. Town Planner Tamra Allen said the committee had a few more edits to make and would be bringing the ordinance in final form before the planning commission March 18. Major modifications to the original ordinance include: a reduction in the allowable aggregate sign area, new height standards and regulations for bringing nonconforming signs into conformity.

- The board approved a resolution appointing Maggie Dix-Caruso to the Historic Preservation Board. Dix-Caruso will serve a three-year term. Her appointment will fill a seat left vacant by architect Julia Donoho.

- The board gave the informal go-ahead to refurbish the sign in the cemetery. Town Administrator Jay Harrington said the sign, created by a group of school students, is too low and in continuous need of repair because trucks back into it. Town staff will rebuild the sign and strengthen the base. The original letters will be reused.

- The board directed Harrington to arrange a workshop with the Archuleta County Commissioners to discuss a use tax on construction materials.

 

 Letters

Debate necessary

Dear Editor:

The debate over the questionable preemptive invasion of Iraq by the U.S. has created animosity between the pros and cons that may well be misplaced.

First, debate is an absolute necessity to maintaining a democratic government. It is how the issues get before the public, and how the public gets enough information to make rational decisions about what is in the best interest of the country.

Second, we may have lost sight of where our allegiance should lie. If you review the oath of office for any elected official, any military officer or any judicial officer, the oath is to uphold the Constitution of the U.S.

The loyalty is not to a man or men individually or collectively. Office holders are recalled, military commanders have been removed in the field and judges are removed for cause. This acknowledges that humans can make errors and sometimes do.

I am aware of the old saying "my country right or wrong" and also that if you are in the armed services if you talk back you may get an extra dose of KP. (Been there and done that). But when the stakes are the lives of our younger generation, it is time to speak up.

Glenn Bergmann

Divided again

Dear Editor:

Much like the '60s, we find ourselves divided again over a pending conflict. The right to protest and voice one's opinion is a God- given, American right. However, at some point, history proves that protest becomes counterproductive to everyone, including the protester.

Evil people see protests as irreconcilable differences and weakness of resolve. Hitler took Austria and Czechoslovakia without firing a shot because no one said, "No!" When Japan invaded Manchuria and later China, no one except President Roosevelt said "No!" When he issued a call to "Isolate the Aggressors," he was met with overwhelming American protest. It wasn't our problem! That sent a message to Japan, a message of weakness and lack of national resolve.

Four weeks ago, I stood on the USS Arizona Memorial and saw the results of that "message"- the gravesite of 1,177 Americans who died Dec. 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. Are we sending that same message to Saddam Hussein and worldwide terrorists today?

Saddam Hussein is an evil person. Regardless of how or where he got his biological and chemical weapons, he's the one who elected to use them, even on his own people. I seriously doubt we expected to get the steel we sold to Japan back as bullets, but we did. Hussein uses murder, torture, and rape to intimidate political dissidents. He blames U.N. sanctions for lack of food and medicine for starving children, yet has 40-plus presidential palaces, the least of which would make the Waldorf Astoria look like a Motel 6. Why aren't people protesting despicable situations like this?

Is a preemptive strike against Iraq justified? Had we known a day in advance that 19 terrorists were going to hijack four airliners and kill thousands of innocent people, would a preemptive strike against them have been justified? I think so.

Saddam hates America and everything we stand for. He would destroy us in a heartbeat if he could. The threat of him supplying chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons to terrorists is a real threat. Do you realize what a four ounce Afrin Nasal Spray bottle full of smallpox virus could do if it were sprayed around O'Hare International Airport, to be carried to every corner of America? Our porous borders allow tons of drugs to be smuggled in every month. How hard would it be to bring in one plastic medicine bottle in checked baggage? Scenerios like this are why Saddam Hussein is a very real threat.

The choice on how this conflict will be resolved is, and always has been Saddam Hussein's to make - period. Protest war with Iraq, if you will. Speak for preemptive action against Iraq, if you will. I just hope that all of us pray for peace. I also pray that if Saddam Hussein elects to make the wrong choice and war does come, all of us will stand united behind our country, our president, and the men and women who will be in harm's way. United we stand, and divided we fall. God Bless America.

Dr. Roy K. Boutwell

More resignations

Dear Editor:

The health service district board held a public meeting Feb. 26 to receive input regarding the preliminary report from consultant Peg Christian. Dozens of people, both in and out of the medical community, attended this meeting.

The unanimous message from the floor screamed at the board to adopt Ms. Christian's plan to solve the serious problems which have existed within the district for more than a year. The board was urged to continue her employment to help get the district back on it's feet. Did the board members get this message? Not hardly, as they had made up their minds before the meeting started.

E-mails exchanged between the district manager and the members of the board prior to this meeting indicate that the course of action should be to ignore the consultant's report and go get the "trouble making employees." These employees are the people who care for you at the clinic and care for you in the ambulance.

Ms. Christian's report was written as an analysis of the problems based on interviews with the staffs of EMS and Mary Fisher Clinic. She put forth problem solving recommendations. It is my perception that this report turned out to be a scathing critique on the poor performance of both the board of directors and the district manager. This is the board you elected at recent special elections. The report suggested that the board accept the resignation of the chairman, this has happened. The report also suggested restricting the authority of the district manager.

Recently elected director Kay Grams delivered a strong message on the behavior of the members of the board and then, unfortunately, submitted her resignation.

The members of the board have shown almost a total lack of knowledge of Colorado's Sunshine Law which governs their actions and have apparently held several illegal meetings. District business has apparently been discussed by a group of members constituting a quorum but not in a called meeting. Court injunctions could be issued against those board members. After the public meeting was over last week, the board went into executive session without benefit of a proper motion to do so. What is the matter here?

The board now has two vacancies to fill by appointment. I believe there was a consensus of those attending the meeting that there should be five more vacancies. It would be beneficial to the district for the remaining board members to submit their resignations.

The taxpayers deserve to have representatives on this board who can recognize problems and who have the ability to solve those problems. If you have had previous board experience, time to devote to problem solving, and are interested in a high level of health care in the district, please consider running for these vacancies.

Sincerely,

Pat Curtis

Hawks and doves

Dear Editor:

No matter how you feel about the war in Iraq, the fact is that whatever the outcome, we do and will have troops overseas.

We need to put politics aside for a moment and send some positive energy to our men and women in uniform. They are there and it looks like they will be for awhile, war or not. We can't turn our backs on these people. We have to let them know that we care about them regardless of our views as to the wisdom of our leaders.

Anything you can think of to show your support would be welcomed and appreciated by our military personnel.

A small group of people gathered in Aspen Springs last Sunday and we came up with an idea that will be a small step in this direction.

We're planning a fund raising event which will include live music, food, and an auction of donated items with all proceeds to be used to purchase prepaid phone cards to be randomly distributed to our troops overseas.

This is admittedly a small step, but it is something. So far we have one band signed up, and a venue set, Paul's Place, in Aspen Springs. No date has been set yet, but watch for flyers and an announcement in your paper.

Last weekend another group of people set up a stand in a mall in Albuquerque where people could purchase Girl Scout cookies to be sent to the Gulf. This all good and we need to do more ... what's your idea?

We would like to challenge everyone in the Four Corners area to come up with more ideas to show our troops that they're not forgotten.

We feel it's our duty to send something positive into this negative situation.

The Finn Family

Concerned

Dear Editor:

As a 61-year-old college educated, U.S. Navy vet, I am extremely concerned about U. S. foreign policy especially the imminent invasion of Iraq. An invasion of Iraq will be a waste of lives, money and material on both sides.

The root problem in the Middle East is the lack of a just and workable resolution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

The United States is the major patron and financial supporter of Israel. We are the only country with the political and economic power to push for a resolution. There must be a way to create viable Israeli and Palestinian states. A first step would be an Israeli pull back to the 1967 boundaries of Israel. Israel must abandon the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza There must also be a separation of the warring parties. All of this can be worked out if there is the will on the part of the U.S. to push for it. It would also be an activity fully supported by Europe and the Arab world.

The fuel for the current conflict in the Middle East is the huge gap between the heavily armed "haves" (the U.S. and Israel) and the poorly armed but extremely angry "have-nots" (most of the Arabic people, a tiny but significant part of which are willing to die for the cause).

Many years ago the U.S. Catholic Conference said, "If you want peace work for justice." This is still true today. President Eisenhower in his farewell address to Congress in 1960 spoke of the role that war and militarism play in taking from the people needed education, health care, and economic progress. If we work to meet human needs much of the anger and violence of this world will subside. Without economic and social justice we will not have peace in this world. The president and his cabinet are on a collision course with war, hopefully the citizens and the U.S. Congress can bring cooler heads to the table.

The congress is charged with approving and funding foreign policy. As citizens it is our responsibility to voice our opinions. Hopefully those who read this will contact Sen. Campbell, Sen. Allard and Rep. McInnis and voice theirs.

Raymond P. Finney

Shame on you

Dear Editor:

I'm writing this letter about an issue that every woman should be concerned about.

I saw in the Preview a notice about a workshop given by the Women's Resource Center, Rape Intervention Team,  and  Victim's Assistance and Law Enforcement Program. This is supposed to help women avoid violent situations.

What I find insulting from these groups is they are charging us for this very important information that may save someone's life. Yes there are scholarships available, but this should be free!

As women we need to find everything to help us protect ourselves, our daughters and their daughters. We need to stand together and help the woman next to us and not tell her I'm charging you for this information.

Shame on you, Women's Resource Center, Rape Intervention Team and Law Enforcement Program.

I want you to know I was a victim!

Madeleine Heath

Thank God

Dear Editor:

Thank God there are people like Bob Dungan, Dennis Finn, Barbara Jacobs, Mary and Lindsey Kurt-Mason, Bill Wasinger and Mrs. Esterbrook, who aren't totally asleep and who have a memory about what has happened, and didn't fall for the usual smoke and mirrors hype.

My husband is a Viet Nam vet and we were beginning to wonder if anyone had a memory at all. It is comforting to know that there are people in the community and its environs, whose choice of color for the shirt of the day isn't brown, or the other contingency who don't care how others are treated because they feel it doesn't affect them personally, who might do well to remember that humans are very fickle and tomorrow they could be at the top of the hate list.

Thank you all for your input, the air was starting to smell like a stockyard.

Sincerely,

Two more peace bums

V. and E. Leach

Brought mail

Dear Editor:

Thanks for reporting the death of my wife, Vera Metzler in your paper. It brought me a lot of nice mail from your part of the country.

I've owned my home in Pagosa Country for 32 years and can't wait to get back there when the snow melts.

I've been taking the Pagosa paper longer than I can remember and will continue to take it until you print my name in the obituaries ... which I hope is a long time.

C.J. (Dutch) Metzler

Racist views

Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter in response to Mr. John Feazel's "Peace Bums" comments in the "Letters" section appearing on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2003.

I would like to thank you for publishing this letter, as it will show other residents of Pagosa the open racist, ignorant, and intolerant views some in this community hold. I found many of John Feazel's comments absurd, offensive and baseless.

To attest that, quote "yes, affirmative action caused the 9/11/01 incident because it forced the airports to hire third world scum that didn't know English and that passed their buddies through security to do their damage," is laughable. I was also unaware that the proclaimed "leader" of the Muslim faith, whomever that may be, quote "declared war on us no later than 9/11/01."

According to Mr. Feazel, myself being a Peace Bum, I am now a Marxist/Stalinist, criminal perpetrating a tremendous hate crime against all of us, that should be "actionable."

Hey, how about a hanging at the town fountain, or better yet, a good old-fashioned lynching. Of course this will never happen because according to Mr. Feazel "there's no punishment for criminals."

Kelly Ralston

Shaded crayons

Dear Editor:

Some members of the local Pagosa Coffee Shop Patriots were gathered the other morning attempting to rationalize how Bob Dungan finds the time to systematically exercise in his newly procured coloring handbook.

After parking black helicopters and fueling all those alien space craft in his back yard aerodrome on a daily basis, then dealing with all that four-letter "bile" from us right-wing hate mongers.

The stress must be monumental after being inundated by the intelligent and delicate musings of Pagosa's infamous cadre of right-wing dysfunctional dimwits.

However, we are confident that Mr. Dungan will prevail whenever he has garnered sufficient manual dexterity with his shaded crayons and will adroitly convince The SUN to once again print his colorful left-wing excrement. The straight tainted "poop" from the Dungan tinctured crayon cannot be duplicated in any other Four Corners area format.

The Polish Crayola

Jim Sawicki

Stupidity

Dear Editor:

You don't have to be a stupid white man to act like one, or: "Just ask Condoleeza." The Thief-in-Chief is causing world grief.

Fear is the fad, Ms. Liberty is sad, Iraq is the cad. The rich are thriving, the poor are crying, "Stop it ... stupid white man!"

G.W. and Con Chaney run the big gas station. They stole it lawfully on a Florida voter fraud's vacation. Our Supreme Court then showed its true color, as special interest money is also their bread and butter.

And nature cries: "Stop it ... stupid white man!"

These "Men of God" (?), turning the greatest creation into a petrol corporate cog, greed and egos so intent, while their feigned concern for our earth and her creatures is so badly bent, and our oceans cry: "Stop it ... stupid white man!"

Shame and fear are their nasty tools, like: You're not being a patriot if you break King George's rules. A similar situation happened some 50 years ago, when true patriots rallied round the flag and said: "Joe ***.. has got to go!" And history cries: "Stop it ... stupid white man!"

Strange how these self-chosen few don't send their own to war, only the children of the less privileged, the minorities, and the poor. Consumed by purchase of vacation home number five, not by other's struggles to live and die, and mothers cry: "Stop it ... stupid white man!'

Agendas so cleverly woven with lies and disinformation they manipulate our laws, our press, and our minorities with their airs of self-righteous indignation. And now that a "majority of us" knows their scent, truth, liberty and justice will prevail, as this immoral minority is called upon to relent humanity cries: Stop it ... stupid white man!"

***Sen. Joseph McCarthy, a sick and demented little man who managed to terrorize our country in the earthly '50s with his "communist witch hunt," basically targeting anyone who dared to disagree with him.

David Lee Snyder

Arboles

Feeling freedom

Dear Editor:

I need to say this just once publicly so I can feel a little more freedom in myself.

Why are we putting up with this constant strife that is allowed to take place every day?

We are floundering in our preoccupation of making a living or for most on this beautiful planet, just trying to survive with, hopefully, a few flashes of peace and happiness when you feel loved and when you give concern and love for others.

The grace that is ours as a nation is the freedom to question what is not feeling right in our souls and minds, find the truth, and do what naturally feels right with that knowledge, which is to make this world a better place to live. We have the technology and common sense to make it happen.

The only way I see God blessing America is when people start questioning the outrageous lies that are said to be "official statements" from our news media. If its not making sense, give yourself a push and don't underestimate your power of finding the truth. You are more than a robot just believing what they want you to believe. You will be amazed.

I challenge all patriots to take the lead, for we defend our freedom to live in the pursuit of happiness. Let's fight now by not taking for granted this story they are feeding us is true. Where is America's sense of adventure in this? That great feeling of discovery to move on to a better world because of our participation in creating it. To not take another's word for it, but to find out on your own. That's the American spirit I know. Not this blame game which is all a lie, anyway.

For some of us that want to find the real truth, this will not be easy. We forgot what common sense is, what it feels like as well. All common sense revolves around what children already know, to respect yourself as well as others and all life. When we connect with this, we connect to the power of the universe and life. Can't go wrong there.

Take this potential adventure for the health of your spirit, the journey could be nothing more than checking out a few Web sites or bookstores. Question your sanity and integrity if you just sit back and do nothing.

You like the way this world is headed?

When innocent people are being killed across this beautiful planet, it hurts too much for words.

Bruce Wayne

Stunned

Dear Editor:

I was stunned to read Mr. Witkowski's letter (SUN 2/27) about the justification of war with Iraq. I can see that intelligence is alive and well here in Pagosa Springs. His delivery was so acute and so well-founded that I was reminded of William Blake's "tyger": "poised to leap" and "burning bright."

My thanks to Mr. Witkowski for his thoughtful and thorough analysis of this complex issue. It helps to be reminded of our roots in history and scripture.

Ken Zeiler

Community News
Senior News

Friendly Visitor Program volunteers needed

By Laura Bedard

SUN Columnist

Greetings Pagosa.

I am pleased to be following in Janet Copeland's footsteps as the new Senior News columnist. As assistant director of the center, I hope to keep you up to date on all news pertinent to seniors.

If you have any ideas or information to share, call me at the Senior Center at 264-2167.

We still need volunteers for our Friendly Visitor Program. If you have time to share with a homebound person, get an application from Musetta. We especially need men to visit folks, and all you need to do is chat and listen.

This week we had two great speakers: Ron Alexander, a local amateur archaeologist talked to us March 4 about "Ancient Humans in Pagosa." He has a huge collection of stone artifacts and would appreciate volunteers to help him clean, sort and organize. If you would like to help, call him at 731-4152.

On March 5, Mike Green, an attorney from Durango, presented "Don't Be a Victim of Crime, Fraud or Scams of all Kinds."

If you missed the lecture, you can call us at the Center.

Monday we'll have a walkers' meeting for all people participating in our program. We are approximately half way through our 14 weeks and we want to encourage, cajole, praise and celebrate our progress. Come join us.

Next Wednesday, Sheree Grazda will be here talking about the always popular 9Health Fair which will be held April 5. There are tons of information disseminated at the event and I'll bet Sheree could use some volunteers. Come hear what's going on at the fair.

Welcome to guests, returning members and new members who visited us last week: Carol Frakes, Pat Boyce, David Bryan, Cathy Cole, Helen Lynn, Carol Ash, Smitty and Norma Walker (they are new members). We are also pleased to see Wilma Weber, Ruth Schutz and Dewey Lattin as we hadn't seen them for a while.

Upcoming events

Tomorrow -10 a.m. Qi Gong; 11 a.m. Medicare counseling with Jim Hanson; 1 p.m. dominos.

Monday - 10 a.m. walkers' meeting; 1 p.m. bridge for fun; tax preparation by appointment.

Tuesday - 9:30 a.m. yoga; 10:30 a.m. advanced computer class.

Wednesday, - 10:30 a.m. beginning computer class; 12:30 p.m. information about the 9Health Fair; 12:45 p.m. art class, now held in the dining room of the Senior Center.

Veterans Corner

Enroll now for veteran's health care program

By Andy Fautheree

I would like to clarify something from last week's column. I said that all deceased veterans were entitled to a Presidential Memorial Certificate, honoring the veteran's service to his country, and signed by the current president of the United States.

As with nearly all matters concerning veterans, I should have said, "honorably discharged" veterans qualify for the memorial certificate.

VA health care

I am receiving a lot of calls and drop-in visits by Archuleta County veterans wanting more information on VA health care.

The new VA health care regulations that went into effect Jan. 17 got the attention of a number of veterans who had been sitting on the sidelines about VA health care. Some wish now they had applied before the income based cutoff date Jan. 17. After that date, veterans with a certain income level are not eligible for VA health care.

Rule of thumb for those income levels are about $24,000 for a single veteran with no dependents, and about $29,000 income for a veteran with one dependent, typically a spouse.

Any veteran who is already enrolled prior to Jan. 17 is "grand-fathered" into the VA health care system, regardless of income. In other words if you enrolled at any time, anywhere, in VA health care prior to that date, you will continue to be eligible for VA health care.

Enrollment encouraged

I do encourage any veteran who has not previously enrolled in VA health care to stop by my office and fill out the VA health care application forms.

The winds of Washington politics can often change and eligibility decisions are reviewed constantly by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to maximize the most benefits for veterans. What was decided for 2003 may not apply later this year, or next year. It would be to a veteran's benefit to have that application already filled out in case they reopen VA health care to all veterans again.

There is a lot of flack from veterans' groups over the changes made this year. Veterans' groups feel that all veterans should be able to receive VA health care, regardless of their income. It is certainly possible these latest VA health care changes could be overturned if enough pressure from veterans' groups is brought to bear in Washington.

Pressure from veterans

As our country apparently prepares for war in the Middle East, we will be creating a whole new segment of veterans from those who have answered the latest call to military duty. Under the current guidelines, many of these new veterans will not be eligible for VA health care upon their honorable discharge because of their income levels.

For information on these and other veteran's benefits please call or stop by the Veterans Service Office located on the lower floor of the county courthouse. The office number is 264-2304, the fax number is 264-5949, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org.

The office is open 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

Lenten fish fry begins Friday

By Sally Hameister

Between Daffodils and Friday Fish Fries, spring just can't be too far off and both are just around the corner.

This Friday night begins the first of six consecutive weeks of the famous Knights of Columbus Friday night fish fries at Parish Hall from 5-7 p.m.

For four Fridays in March and the first two in April, you can treat yourself to this wildly popular event, enjoy the delicious food and take leave from your kitchen for a night. Who could ask for anything more? Plan to arrive early because you can always count on lots of folks showing up for the fish fry.

Fred Harman

Our congratulations to the folks at FoPA for conceiving and organizing the Fred Harman Gala held at the museum last Friday and Saturday nights.

Despite the snow and cold, Fred, Bob Huff and Phil Janowsky played to full and enthusiastic crowds both nights, and a good time was had by all. The guys all did a great job and, by popular demand, agreed to repeat the performance at some time in the future.

If you missed this one, don't miss the next. All three are very talented, and, in addition, offer a particularly entertaining on-stage, spontaneous chemistry that incites belly laughs aplenty.

Look for FoPA's next production, An Evening of Short Plays, March 22, 28 and 29. For more information, call 731-9325.

Daffodil Days

Don't forget to order your daffodils from the American Cancer Society during their current Daffodil Days for only $9 a bunch. They are always so beautiful and brighten any environment they inhabit. You can enjoy them and at the same time support the Society's cancer research, education and local patient service. Volunteers would be welcomed by Suzan Gray, and you can give her a call at 264-6255 to offer your services.

Remember too that these gorgeous yellow daffodils are a perfect way to express your appreciation and affection to friends and family or to brighten the day of someone who might be going through a particularly rough time.

You may have received an order form in your recent Chamber Communiqué or you can pick up an order form at the Visitor Center or call 264-6255. Beginning March 12, the bouquets will be available at Mountain Greenery.

Food for Friends

March seems to bring with it many opportunities to support great causes, and Curves, 30 Minute Fitness and Weight Loss Center is no exception.

For the fifth year, Curves is conducting a national food drive to benefit local food banks, and our local Curves hopes to raise at least 1,200 pounds of food which would exceed last year's number by 200. Anyone can bring a bag of food in during the week of March 17 and the normal service fee will be waived.

This is a total community effort, and you don't have to be a member of Curves to donate. Please drop off your food donations at Curves, located behind the Hog's Breath Saloon and Restaurant at 117 Navajo Trail Drive or at the Chamber of Commerce.

Curves' hours are Monday-Wednesday 7-noon/4-7, Tuesday-Thursday 8-noon/4-7 and Friday, 7-noon/3:30-6:30.

Let's all help April and the gang at Curves exceed their goal for this year. For more information, call 731-0333.

Mt. McKinley

Local climber, Rick Strohecker, will give a slide presentation on his successful climb of Mt. McKinley tomorrow, at 7 p.m. at the Humane Society Thrift Store meeting room.

Strohecker has over 20 years experience and has climbed throughout the U.S. as well as major high altitude climbs in Alaska, South America and Tibet.

All proceeds from this evening will be donated to The Humane Society of Pagosa Springs, and admission will be $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.

For more information, please call 264-9253.

International trade

The Small Business Development Center in Durango will offer a workshop on International Trade presented by Claus Weidner, trade consultant for the International SBDC in Colorado Springs.

This free workshop will be held April 2 from 7:30-10: a.m. in Durango.

Weidner will discuss why Colorado firms should become involved in exporting and take advantage of opportunities in global trade, how to ship from Colorado to world markets, how to get paid for goods sold internationally and provide sources for affordable assistance available to Colorado exporters. He will also illustrate how a Colorado manufacturer added to his company's growth by starting and maintaining an export program.

If you are interested, give us a call at 264-2360, and we'll hook you up with the Durango SBDC.

KM for Kids

Grant applications and funding reports are available at the Visitor Center for the second year of Kinder Morgan's KM for Kids program.

This program supports youth initiatives in Pagosa Springs and throughout the company's retail service territory.

Last year Kinder Morgan donated $4,500 to youth programs here, and this year they will donate $5,300. If your organization would like to be considered for funding, please stop by and pick up an application and return by the March 7 deadline. If you have questions about the application process or funding parameters, please contact Natalie Shelbourn at (970) 874-4432, Ext. 225.

9HealthFair

Just a heads up on the upcoming 9HealthFair to be held April 5 at the Pagosa Springs High School from 8 a.m.-noon.

As always, there will be free and optional health screenings, and a blood chemistry analysis for $30 and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) for $25.

Keep in mind that you must be 18 years old to participate. For information, you can call (303)698-3799 or (800)332-3078, or visit their Web site at www.9HealthFair.org.

Fire Prevention

Also on April 5, Rep. Mark Larson and Sen. Jim Isgar will be here to host a special Town Hall meeting to talk about what we can do to reduce wildfire hazards.

This presentation will be held at the Community Center at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. 2-4 p.m.

Representatives from the Colorado State Forest Service and the San Juan Public Lands Center will also be on hand to answer questions. This event kicks off with a screening of the video, "After the Fire" and is free of charge.

In conjunction with this same fire prevention program, free tours will be conducted in our area April 19 and 26. On April 19 from 10 a.m.-noon, Chief Warren Grams will conduct a tour called "Defensible Space Projects" showing us how to make our homes safer from fires. The tour will feature real examples of successful defensible space treatments done by homeowners. Please register to attend by April 17, and meet at the fire station on North Pagosa Boulevard at 10 a.m.

April 26, 9 a.m.-noon, Bob Frye of the Pagosa Ranger District will lead a tour showing you how the Forest Service has reduced risk in the urban interface (where public lands are adjacent to subdivisions) using methods such as hydromowing and chain saw thinning.

Stops will be in Pagosa Lakes and Wildflower subdivisions and some gentle terrain walking will be required. Please register by April 23. You must RSVP to go on either of these tours at (970) 385-1210 by the designated deadlines. Space is limited so if you cannot make it, please call and cancel.

Membership

I honestly can't shed any tears this week about no new members because 14 of our existing loyal members have seen fit to renew. Thank you all for making our lives so much easier here at the Chamber.

Renewing this week are Kenneth D. Smith with Smithco Enterprises, LLC; Carla Shaw with The Kraftin' Post; Brian J. Shaw with Shaw Electric; Bill Queen with Action Fire and Safety; Jack Nightingale with Pagosa Lodge; Barbara and Doug Drane with Impact Printing and Graphics; Susan Winter Ward with Yoga for the Young at Heart; Allen Bunch with The Malt Shoppe; Livia Lynch with the Archuleta County Education Center; Bill Hudgins with Sunetha Property Management; David Brackhahn, manager, Foxfire Construction; A.J. and Lana Schlegel with Schlegel Bilt Homes; Clint Scruggs with Certified Folder Display in Castle Rock; Sherri M. Anderson with Vectra Bank Colorado Mortgage Group; and George Johnson with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Many thanks to all.

Library News

470,000 state homes are at risk

By Lenore Bright

Come in, visit the kiosk, and find out what you need to know to protect yourself for the coming fire season. There are 470,000 Colorado homes at risk, and yours is one of them.

Check your knowledge about being prepared for a fire on your property. We thank Colorado State University Cooperative Extensions services and some other agencies for sharing this Wildfire Mitigation Kiosk. It is easy to use and very informative.

Preparedness guide

Russell Crowley, county emergency management officer, brought us a survival notebook asking, "Are you ready?" A guide to citizen preparedness, it reminds us that survival planning starts at home. Some of the questions for you to ponder: What should people do to prepare?

What are the most important items in a disaster kit? Won't firefighters and police officers help me in an emergency? Where can I get more information?

George Bush has a section on terrorism and national security emergencies. While this notebook was compiled because of terrorism threats, it is full of good information on general preparedness for all types of disasters including fire and floods. This is the duct tape edict.

New books

"Live Now - Age Later," by Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld is the New York Times best selling author of Symptoms. Rosenfeld gives us proven ways to slow down the clock. He lays it on the line and explains how aging is not a single process, but the result of many changes. Discover how to preserve your eyesight, keep skin young, and preempt Alzheimer's.

"Painting Greeting Cards," by Elizabeth Joan Black will give you lots of ideas to paint your own cards. There are many techniques with step-by-step demonstrations. At the price of greeting cards today, this is an enjoyable way to be personal and save lots of money.

"Landlording," by Leigh Robinson is a handy manual for anyone interested in rental property. However, be advised that Colorado laws may be different.

Always contact a lawyer when doing anything contractwise.

Buying books

The library's income is derived from property tax. At the beginning of each new year, we must wait for the county treasurer to send us money. Since folks don't pay their property taxes until February or later, we have to wait. Very soon, we can begin ordering new books when the tax money starts to come in.

We thank you for your tax support. We look forward to providing you with new books soon.

Donations

The nice people who donate new books and other materials for your use are to be thanked for keeping our shelves filled: Sam Goulds, Cynthia Sharp, Sue Kehret, Liz Allen, and Kate Terry. Special thanks to the Methodist Thrift Store and the U.P.H. Methodist Church who will be giving us a hardback each week.

Financial help came from Gary and Judy Waples in memory of Virginia Gust; Martha Jane Moore in memory of Virginia Gust. Judy Wood, William and Marjorie Hallett, Sarah and Dan Potts, Bob Morris and Betsy Ferrell, and Wells Fargo Bank in memory of Lee Sterling.

 Business News

Dr. Christopher Offutt has reopened a Pagosa office, Pagosa Springs Foot and Ankle Clinic, and the office is open Mondays to patients.

Offutt, a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, provides patients with complete foot health care for the entire family. He offers routine podiatric examinations and care; general foot surgery; minor emergency foot care; diabetic foot care; treatment of sport-related foot injury; custom prescription orthotics; and X-ray and laboratory analysis.

The office is located at 475 Lewis St., Unit 221. Call 264-1221.

 

 Features

Linus Project

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

On a shelf in Mary Kurt-Mason's fifth-grade classroom, a small sign reads: "Those who sleep under a quilt, sleep under a blanket of love."

It's a motto the class seems to have taken to heart this year. Starting right after Christmas, the students began designing quilts to be used to comfort seriously-ill or traumatized children.

"I wanted them to learn to give something away," their teacher said. "I knew this was a generous kindhearted class."

Kurt-Mason, a quilter herself, got things started by bringing in a bundle of extra fabrics for the students to use. She also secured three grants, one for scissors from the Colorado Council on the Arts, another for a sewing machine from the Colorado Quilting Council and a third for the batting to fill the quilts from the Pagosa Springs Rotary Club, to put the rest of the supplies in student's hands. The staff at Edelweiss Needlework Chalet was another big help, Kurt-Mason said, making sure they had all the right tools when they needed them.

From there, the students cut out 6-inch squares of fabric. In teams of two or three, they began to create designs, sticking various squares on the design wall until they achieved the perfect pattern.

"The design wall is a piece of picnic table fabric with the fleece on the back side," Kurt-Mason said. "The fabric squares just stick to it."

Some teams ended up with a center cross design. Others went for diagonal, checkerboard patterns or even horizontal stripes. A few started with themes, only to find the fabrics too few and had to change direction. Others focused on finding similar color values, or tried to work a whole quilt around a favorite fabric.

"We thought about making a sun with yellow in the middle," Jacob Lucero said, displaying the quilt he created with Denise Bauer. "Then we made a cross with blues and used bright colors around it to make the blues stand out more."

It all took quite a bit of trial and error, Kurt-Mason said. It also meant quite a lot of cutting to keep a variety of fabric coming. Each pattern had to have about six or seven blocks across and six or seven down to be big enough to finish.

Julia Adams and Eli Fairman focused on a checkerboard pattern of hot and cold colors - reds and blues in this case. They were one of the first teams done and actually tried their hands at sewing the quilt top. It was a bigger challenge than they expected.

"Eli had never sat behind a sewing machine," Wendy Adams, a volunteer parent in the room, said. In the end, the students completed the sewing, but the squares didn't quite come together evenly. However, with a bit of heavy quilting from Adams to hide the unevenness, the result is simply beautiful.

Many teams welcomed suggestions from their teacher and classmates.

"We just kept smacking blocks on and taking them down and putting them back up," Rapheal Sisneros said. He and Trent Ryan, who has since moved, worked together to combine a space and nature theme. The result was a bright quilt full of pattern and light.

The "bug, truck and plane" quilt created by Trent Maddux, Victoria Espinosa and Casey Crow combined bright solid orange, yellow and greens with three patterned fabrics featuring trucks, planes, and in the very center of the quilt, big bugs on a white background.

"We started with the planes and then found the cars," Crow said. The bugs came last and finished things off.

Once the pattern was complete, Kurt-Mason said, Adams sewed the quilt tops together. Parent Marilyn Krings lent a volunteer hand as well. Then, the quilts came back to the students who pinned together the top, batting and backing. Adams took over again and quilted the three layers together. Binding was added to finish the edges. "We just finished the last one fifteen minutes ago," Adams said. At that point, the quilts were ready to be shipped to the Project Linus chapter in Durango.

So far, the class has seven quilts to donate. One more - to be created by Mary Ramirez and Cody Whittington - is still on the design wall.

"My favorite squares are the baby blues because they look like spray paint," Whittington said. So far, blues and reds are the dominate colors in this quilt.

Through Project Linus, a nationwide organization with over 300 chapters, the quilts will be distributed to children in need of comfort. The goal of each chapter is to collect all kinds of blankets to give to seriously ill or traumatized children ages 0-18. Blankets may be knitted, crocheted, quilted, tied, and made of fleece, flannel or other washable fabrics. The only guidelines are that the blankets must be new, handmade and in child-friendly colors.

The organization started in 1995 when Karen Loucks, of Parker, read an article in Parade Magazine about a little girl undergoing chemotherapy. The little girl said a "security" blanket she carried helped get her through the treatments. The article inspired Loucks to organize groups to provide homemade blankets to Denver's Rocky Mountain Children's Cancer Center and Project Linus was born. Through 2001, the organization as a whole had managed to deliver over 400,000 security blankets to children around the world.

Since the Durango chapter of Project Linus opened in February, 2001, the group has delivered over 500 blankets to Mercy Medical Center, Southwest Colorado Mental Health Center, San Juan Basin Health Children with Special Needs Program, Southern Ute Social Services, La Plata County Department of Social Services, Southwest Safehouse, Durango Community Shelter and the Juvenile Diabetes Clinic.

Kurt-Mason said donating blankets to Project Linus had been a dream of hers for several years. This spring, all the pieces finally fell together. She had students willing to give up extra time and even a few days of recess to work on the project, a "fabulous," volunteer in Adams who could "sew a quilt top in a day," and lots of leftover fabric.

The result is seven, almost eight works of love, sure to soothe any child lucky enough to wrap up in those warm folds.

Other members of the class include: Rafael Barajas, Bridgett Brule, Jordan Caler, Jordin Frey, Art Murrieta, Felicia Salas, Nicola Shaw, Josie Snow, Boone Stahlnecker and Eric Tatum.

 

Pagosa's Past

Southern Utes - looking for a home

By John Motter

The white men who settled Pagosa Country didn't move into a vacuum.

Occupying the mountain valleys that separated stand after stand of towering mountain ranges were the Southern Utes, a proud people made up of the Capote, Weeminuche and Moache bands.

There wasn't room for the Utes to live as hunting-gathering people alongside the farming, ranching, mining whites who made intensive use of the land, or at least of the land's resources. As has always been true, might made right. The vastly outnumbered Utes had to go. The only question was, where?

A series of negotiations between Ute and Anglo provided a series of answers. Each new answer was precipitated by white demand for more of the Ute homeland. Consequently, the Southern Ute home shrank from all of mountain Colorado and Utah plus much of northern New Mexico into smaller and smaller bits. The first treaty made in 1849, called the Calhoun Treaty, didn't set reservation boundaries, but gave the whites permission to enter Ute lands and build forts and agencies.

Soon, the U.S. was handing out rations at agencies located at Cimarron, Taos, Abiquiu, Maxwell's Ranch and Tierra Amarilla in New Mexico and Conejos in Colorado. The first U.S. fort in Colorado, Fort Garland, was built in the San Luis Valley. Famed mountain man Kit Carson, well-known as a Ute agent, was one-time commander of Fort Garland.

During the early 1850s, a number of battles were fought against combined forces of Southern Utes and Jicarilla Apaches. The battles were fought in the San Luis Valley and valleys in the mountains separating the San Luis Valley from the plains to the east. Ultimately, the Indians lost.

Finally, the government adopted a policy of forcing all the Utes onto a specific reservation in the San Juan Mountains. Remember, in addition to the three bands of Southern Utes, other bands lived in central and northern Colorado and in Utah. From the government's viewpoint, simplicity suggested that all should be placed in one location and served by one administrative headquarters.

Plans for such a move were formalized in 1863. By that time, gold had been discovered in the San Juans but few if any people lived there permanently. No whites lived in Pagosa Country. It is doubtful at that time if the nation realized the richness of metal deposits in the San Juan Mountains. Besides, the Civil War raged in 1863. No one could be certain the nation would survive.

Through the 1863 proposal, the government envisioned all of the Utes becoming farmers while living on land held by the Capotes. The Southern Utes disagreed with the proposed policy and with the proposed reservation location. The Capotes were present, but refused to sign the agreement. The Moaches sent but one representative, who refused to sign. The Weeminuche Utes refused to even send a representative. None of the Southern Utes on whose lands the reservation would be located wanted anything to do with the proposal.

From the government's standpoint, all was not lost. Representatives of the Tabeguache band agreed to sign. The Tabeguache normally lived in the Montrose-Uncompaghre area. They were probably more aware of the coming waves of white settlers, because they were nearer the mining activity begun in 1859 west of Denver. By 1863, the same mining activity had moved west and south, not as far as the San Juans in significant numbers, but close enough to rub shoulders with the Tabeguache.

It is interesting to note that most of the Ute bands were not represented at the meeting. Of those bands represented, only one agreed to the terms of the proposal.

The best known of the Ute leaders, Ouray, was half Tabeguache and half Jicarilla. He had been born near Cimarron, where the Tabeguache sometimes wintered. In Spanish, his name was Ure, meaning arrow. Ouray spoke Spanish, English, Jicarilla and Ute; not bad for an uneducated Indian.

In any case, the Tabeguache signed the 1863 treaty, surrendering about a quarter of all the lands claimed by the Utes. After Senate approval, President Lincoln signed the treaty on Dec. 14, 1864. The government had adopted a treaty approved by only one of the eight or 10 bands of Ute Indians it purported to represent.

The provisions of this treaty were never carried out. Scarcely had the ink dried when miners and ranchers pushing onto Ute lands from the east forced the government to think again. Ranchers pushing in from the south were seeking land in New Mexico where the Southern Utes wintered. Following the Civil War, miners pushed into the San Juans in their never ending search for gold. Most of the Utes were not living on the reservation. Those who lived there were allowed to leave whenever they chose. Tension between white and Indian mounted.

In its wisdom, the government decided to set up two large reservations west of the Mississippi River, not just for Utes but for all Indians. With the reservations in place, all treaty making with Indians would end. The tribes would no longer be considered separate, sovereign nations, but domestic, dependent people subject to the laws of the United States.

The Indian's right to own land was to be denied and the lands placed under government control. Several of these provisions approved by a Senate Committee for Indian Affairs were included in a new, 1868 Ute Treaty.

More on the 1868 treaty next week.

 

Editorial

Do your job, now

It's embarrassing, and you need to put an end to it. It is time for the board of directors of the Upper San Juan Health Service District to close the sideshow, and tell the audience to go home. Step up and do what we expect of our elected leaders.

You've heard complaints from employees, you've read letters to the editor, you've been exposed to the opinions of self-proclaimed experts. You've gone so far as to hire a "peacemaker," to consider sweet-sounding recipes for a balm.

You've heard more opinions than necessary, but here's one more.

You have inherited a set of problems long in the making - economic, organizational, emotional - some forged by your predecessors, some created by you. You've experienced the departure of colleagues. Now, its time to make decisions and bring the farce to an end.

Perhaps the basic question is whether the district should be in the business of operating both a clinic and an emergency medical services division. At some time, the question must come to the table for consideration.

For now, there are immediate problems at hand, and they are not going to be solved by creating, as some suggest, a quasi-socialistic scheme in which management occurs by consent of employees. This has never worked; it will not work for you. There must be a point of ultimate accountability. It is you, and your top managers.

You have disgruntled employees, their attitudes further soured by individuals in the community, some with undisclosed and unanalyzed interests. It is time for staff members to go back to work, do their jobs well and cash their paychecks. If an employee no longer has the desire to do the job well they should leave, or be asked to leave. On the other hand, staffers who work hard and with pride in their work, who make constructive and positive contributions to the organization, must be treated with respect. Their contributions and commitments must be honored, their presence valued.

You have disgruntled employees for a reason. Management should be taken to task when morale sags. If management can't find a way to deal with personnel and keep the majority of workers functioning in an effective and moderately happy manner, get new management. No workplace is absent a measure of discontent, but effective managers are able to solve most problems with most employees. Good management does not foster havoc.

Remember, you run a tax-supported entity. You are constrained by Colorado law in terms of how you do business. You violate the law when you conduct district business among a majority of members - via phone conversations, letters, e-mail - outside scheduled public meetings. You violate the law if a quorum meets outside a properly announced meeting. You must do your work at meetings, with very few exceptions, in the clear light of day. Questions? Talk to the district's legal counsel and obtain a clear understanding of the rules.

We constituents care that we receive the best service possible - when we walk through the clinic door, when an ambulance arrives. Do not let this situation degrade further, to a point where service is suspect.

Instead of hiring peacemakers, hire a consultant to do a qualification and performance evaluation of every single one of your employees. Spend extra money, if you must, to illuminate your strengths and rid yourself of weaknesses.

If these ideas do not ring true, find some that do.

But bring the curtain down, now.

Karl Isberg

 

Pacing Pagosa

Contrasts in a blanket of white

By Richard Walter

A foot-deep mantle of the white offers promise of more water in melt down than the lawn received in all of last summer.

Iris outside the kitchen window had struggled to rise to about 5-inch height before the snows fell, apparently failing to believe it wasn't yet spring, that the rain in early February was a seasonal signal to arise.

Similarly, the stunted remains of last year's sweet peas, twisted in the wire fencing at least a foot lower than normal, lend another example of the effects of lack of moisture on the land.

Hopefully, the dried up lawn which remains will stage a comeback; though some areas were completely denuded when moisture absented itself from our world.

Rhubarb and roses, too, feel; the loss of sustenance from nature's bounty and they, too, lie fallow, awaiting a chance to once again rise in flavor and beauty.

Such, as always, is the plight of the high desert area we call Archuleta County - or more currently, Pagosa Country.

It is a land which has, in the past, fed all its own from farms throughout its bounds. It is a land which has sustained huge herds of both sheep and cattle, but which has seen use restricted in three years of substandard precipitation, dwindling reservoir and river levels, restrictions on use of the water which does exist, and an ever-growing population which increases demands on the limited supply.

I, like many older residents, have told the stories of "real winters" in Pagosa's past. Real winters with upwards of 400 inches of snow in the high mountains; real winters with up to 20 feet or more falling during the season right here in town; real winters when folks put chains on their cars in late September or early October and then took them off again in late March or early April.

Those, we'd say, were the good old days, when God and his servant, Mother Nature, took care of the land. Funny how we never seem to recall with such detail the days of lean moisture, of continuous hot, dry summer winds sapping sustenance from the soil and, in fact, turning that soil into dust storms equal in may ways to those which often hide the views in the nearby San Luis Valley.

Sometimes we are too quick to recall the times we had to suffer through to get to those which we knew would be better.

We need to remember it takes four seasons to make a climate and the fact they don't all behave as we'd like is not under our control.

What we can do is control our use of what is given us. If it requires dried, straggly vines instead of bountiful flowers, so be it.

If it requires not watering the lawn, but replacing at least portions with stone and other forms of xeriscaping, so be it.

Don't blame the Provider. He made us and our environment, and entrusted us to take care of it. We must recognize its limitations.

 

Legacies
90 years ago

Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era files of March 7, 1913

Dave Hersch is to build a home residence on his ranch just out of town and thus remove himself from town politics. Dave is getting wisdom along with age, as the sensible man who takes a whirl or two at Pagosa politics and then stays in the game is regarded with apprehension.

Everything points to ideal farm conditions for the San Juan Basin during the season of 1913.

M.O. Brown recently purchased 400 head of cattle from one grower on the Florida a few miles east of Durango.

Dr. Milton and family have moved into the Dutton cottage on Fifth Street, lately vacated by Sheriff Holiday and family.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of March 9, 1928

H.D. Ford of the Pagosa Springs Motor Company returned last Friday from southern Archuleta County and Pine River Valley points, where he was demonstrating the new Ford car - and selling many of the new models.

On Monday Mrs. Jas. Whitead purchased the former Ed Burton ranch in O'Neal Park from W.W. and T.B. Nossaman. The ranch adjoins the Whitead place and will be occupied by the new owner the first of next month.

About a dozen local Masons escaped serious injury or death Sunday afternoon when returning from the J.T. Morgan funeral. A fractious horse was the cause of a hack overturning with the Masonic members, but fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of March 6, 1953

Winter may have been a little late getting here but it arrived with a good snow last week. Snow fell here Tuesday and Wednesday. Then on Saturday night snow started falling in earnest and by the time it quit Tuesday, fourteen inches was on the ground in town. The higher elevations reported more and there was just about three feet on Wolf Creek Pass.

The regular meeting of the County Commissioners was held on Monday of this week with Commissioners Terry Robinson and John Stevens in attendance. Harmon Clark was excused because of illness. The business transacted was mainly routine. They approved the issuance of a 3.2 beer license to Edna Lynch to be used at the Mt. View Trading Post west of town.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of March 2, 1978

Starting next Monday, the SUN will be operating out of a new location, just north of the present location. The building is new and it will take a few days to get squared away. However, all business transactions will be accommodated in the new location as of Monday.

Snow started falling in town Monday and has continued fairly steadily. The snow is heavy, almost rain, and is much heavier at higher elevations. Through Sunday 96 inches of snow has fallen on Wolf Creek Pass in February and snowfall there is almost normal at the time.

The Pirate basketball players wound up play for the year at the sub-district tournament. Dawn Goodyear and Karen Ash were named to the all tournament team as were Randy Sorenson, Troy Ross and Wayne Blasingim.