March 13, 2003 
Front Page

Mediator hired; job descriptions sought

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Stern discussion, finger-pointing, resignations and tears defined the first hour of discussion at the Upper San Juan Health Service District meeting March 5.

The reactions were a response to statements read by board members Patty Tillerson and Ken Morrison at the beginning of the meeting. Morrison, Tillerson and Wayne Wilson were the only board members in attendance. The three created a quorum because recent resignations of two board members cut their number from seven to five.

Tillerson said it is important to remember that the board is relatively new, with the majority of members serving less than three years, and that they inherited a crisis debt situation when former manager Bill Bright left. Current manager, Dee Jackson, was hired after a long search and extensive interviews.

"Despite her hard work and efforts to bring the finances back into balance and correct former abuses of payroll and hourly wages, there is a small group of employees who are unable to appreciate the progress that has been made on their behalf over the past year," Tillerson said. "We know that most of our employees are trying to do a good job and work with management; however, we are well aware that the environment for them has been made unpleasant due to the activities and attitudes of a few. This board is very appreciative of those employees who have been supportive during this period of adjustment."

Jackson was next, first outlining her qualifications - "for the community members who didn't have the opportunity to interview me." Jackson holds a master's of business administration specializing in healthcare administration. Of her 20 years of management experience, 12 have been in the health care field. She has also served for six years as an accreditation surveyor and taught classes in team building and conflict resolution to both college students and adults.

"My first year here has not exactly been a bed of roses either," she said. "I knew some of the district's ills before I came, however, there are so many more than meets the eye Folks, we had problems and were in violation with a lot of different laws. Some so serious that we could have had big fines or closed down."

Morale, she said, was low even then.

"All I heard was complaints about why the board kept putting all the bad stuff in the newspaper," she said. "They were unhappy because of the Bill Bright situation, the Dick (Babillis) situation, the financial situation and the employee's complained about one another."

After dealing with the financial crisis, she said, the time had come to find a way to build trust in employees.

"So we had an employees association luncheon in November, and in December we gave the first-ever year-end bonuses," she said. "We even gave an employee a salary adjustment because of the significant contribution to the financial turnaround. February of this year, we paid every EMT for every hour of in-house training they have attended. This was never done in the past. So, my fellow employees, some of you are looking at the glass half empty instead of half full."

Morrison wrapped up the remarks with a few questions and answers following the board's adoption of a "change agreement" modified from one prepared by Peg Christian, a conflict resolution specialist hired by the board in January to interview employees and report on district problems. The agreement outlined conduct for moving forward toward a solution, such as a focus on the future, trusting one another and listening.

Christian's work with the district was done, he said, although parts of her report might be implemented as they worked toward a solution.

Another mediator could be found, Morrison added, pointing out that two mediators in the community were willing to help the district for free.

No, he said, the board was not prepared to fire Jackson. He was also not in favor of restricting Jackson simply to handling the financials, a suggestion in the Christian report.

For those employees willing to do their job and help the district, he said, the board was behind them. "If you are bad for business and inhibiting the district from doing its job this board does not want you."

These were strictly Morrison's opinions however, several in the audience took them as foregone board conclusions.

"This has been the biggest slap in the face that I've received in my professional career," Susan Kuhns, an employee of the medical center, said. Employees trusted Christian and supported her report, she added. To simply dismiss her after months of complaints about mistrust between management and employees was poor judgment.

Board member Wayne Wilson said it is apparent some kind of mediation is needed to begin healing the rifts. He made a motion that the board immediately approach the two local mediators who volunteered to donate their time and begin mediation for the employees. He offered to attend any sessions he was invited to - just to listen.

Christian or nothing was the response from several members of the audience.

"Why are you against the mediator you had?" community member Jim Sawicki asked, pointing out people usually get what they pay for.

Money was the issue, Wilson said. If similarly qualified volunteers were available locally, it made more sense economically to use them rather than to continue to bring someone in from outside the community who would have to be paid.

After more discussion, Dick Blide, a retired pulmonologist who has attended several recent meetings, offered to pay Christian's fee for one year.

Shortly thereafter, the board revised the motion and voted to solicit a proposal from Christian to serve as the facilitator for "healing circles," a mediation technique suggested in her report.

Two or three people in the audience commented that it would be shameful if the board accepted the man's money for mediation purposes.

"The gesture alone means everything," Morrison said.

In an interview March 10, District Manager Dee Jackson said the money to hire Peg Christian would come from the district's training budget for the year, not donations. The district has received a proposal for mediation from Christian. The board will not have a chance to review the proposal until the regular March 18 meeting.

The board passed a motion refusing to accept resignations tendered by employees in the audience earlier in the meeting because of the strong emotions running through the crowd and a motion to have a lawyer present at the next board meeting to review board actions.

Wilson also directed Jackson to make the creation of job descriptions for every employee a priority and asked employees to begin making suggestions for a one-year plan for the district at staff meetings. From there, he said, the suggestions could be brought to the board through the interim managers at the clinic and EMS or Jackson.

Kathy Conway, a paramedic for the district, was hired to fill the 6-month interim position at Emergency Medical Services at the end of February.

Kuhns, at the clinic, had agreed to fill the position of interim director there, until the March 5 meeting. As of March 10, although Kuhns remains with the clinic, the interim manager's position remains open. Jackson said she would be talking with employees at the clinic March 12 regarding the best way to fill the position.


District manager begins work on morale problem

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Firing the current Upper San Juan Health Service District manager is not an option at this time, members of the district board told an audience of about 40 March 5.

Rule by a consensus of three managers as suggested in a recent conflict resolution report, was also not an option.

Instead, the board opted for hiring a mediator and directing the district manager and employees to focus on the future, rather than the past, and learn to work together. The board also encouraged employees to use a complaint policy passed in December 2002 to resolve problems. To this point, the complaint policy has been used just once, according to District Manager Dee Jackson. When it was used, the complaint was apparently resolved successfully.

As a result of the board meeting, Jackson said she spent the weekend working on a plan to direct the current morale issues in the district.

Morale issues, including a lack of trust between management and employees, first came up in a public meeting last summer. Employees returned to the board with additional concerns late in 2002. Peg Christian, a conflict resolution specialist from Durango was hired in January to interview employees and write a report for the board.

The report was presented in February and the board adopted some of the recommendations in March, including hiring a mediator to conduct "healing circles."

According to Jackson's draft plan, which has not gone before the board yet, she will:

- request a proposal for Christian to facilitate healing circles

- prepare a list of qualified mediators to assist with the employee complaint policy

- distribute to all employees the board-adopted change agreement outlining standards for conduct as the district works through its problems, and make the change agreement part of employee performance evaluations

- circulate the employee complaint policy, solicit input on individual complaints and handle complaints quickly and without retaliation

- prepare an employee suggestion form and ask for input to improve the district

- distribute excerpts from the personnel manual on standards of conduct, harassment and the discipline policy

- ask employees to design good job descriptions with evaluations to take place in the next three months with work to be evaluated starting now

- distribute the mission statement, and

- begin immediate training on communication skills, team building and customer service.

"The board makes policy and plans," Jackson said. "Manage-ment's role is to implement policy and administer the mission of the district. Management must accomplish goals through the district's employees. As Ms. Christian's report has indicated, the problems at the district are long standing, prior to my employment. The board passed an employee complaint policy that is to be used to present formal complaints within a chain of command. We have not fully utilized this policy. We have allowed a group of employees to verbally complain at board meeting without having specific details about the problems. This has been unfair to management. We also have a personnel policy manual that is under revision, but is still in effect. Our policy is specific about standards of conduct, discipline and harassment."

The group of employees attending board meetings over the last several months have said repeatedly that they find it difficult to trust Jackson or to work with her.


Schools face budget crisis sting

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

"What can be said of state legislative issues other than it is a train wreck that has already happened?"

That was the opening comment Tuesday as Superintendent Duane Noggle made his monthly report to the board of education of Archuleta County School District 50 Joint.

"The projected state budget deficit", he told the board, "does not loom on the horizon, but is here."

He told the board there is no sense in discussing what might happen as far as educational funding "because nobody knows for sure."

What is known, he said, "is that there will be cuts - how much is anybody's guess."

He noted there are moves afoot in the legislature for constitutional changes in Amendment 23, TABOR and the Gallagher amendment.

He said there is an assumption there will be reinterpretation of Amendment 23 to exclude some categorical funding but "the impact school districts will feel is still an unknown."

If there is no action and no new funding found, he said, "there's likely to be a 36 percent across-the-board hit for all funds.

"There's no question we'll take a hit. The only question is, how much?"

Nancy Schutz, district business manager, said the best guess scenario would be a 4-percent cut in funding for financial accounts and 8-percent cuts for categoricals.

With Amendment 23 locked in, she said, the state is asking the school districts to help bail them out.

"There have been reams of so-called 'St. Vrain legislation' introduced," she said, including one which would order school districts to turn all bond fund monies over to the county treasurer.

"I have no idea what purpose that would serve," she said.

Before TABOR and Gallagher, Noggle said, the balance of funding was 60 percent local 40 percent state.

Now it is reversed, he said, and the state continuously seeks more control.

Noggle and former superintendent Terry alley attended a No Child Left Behind accountability session in Denver last week. Alley is the board's grant writer.

The upshot, Noggle said, was that school districts should expect no increases in funding and that they should write grant requests based on what was received this year.

The problem is that the federal promise of $10 billion in the No Child Left Behind program actually resulted in a grant of only $1.8 billion and no one knows how that will be allotted.

He told the board it will still have to comply with the new federal law, even without the promised money.

Initially, he said, the focus will have to be on staff development to meet the "highly qualified" teacher designation the program requires.

To reach that level, a teacher must have 24 hours college credit in the subject being taught, or be endorsed for the subject.

He said there should be no serious problem in meeting the status demand, with possible exception of the junior high school where previously only a secondary endorsement was required for a specific course. Now, to meet the NCLB mandates, all teachers must be "highly qualified."

Looking at all the financial problems looming, Noggle said, he, Schutz and Alley had met that day to examine budgets, possible cuts areas and study to see "where we can go and how we get there."

He said there had been discussion of adding a curriculum assessment manager but without funding "we much prefer to use that money for teachers and provide services they are trained to offer."

On the same line, he said, "all principals have been asked to budget for the next school year on the basis of the amount received this year, and to look for ways to make cuts."

Noggle cited letters received from U.S. Sens. Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, in response to Colorado concerns about education funding.

Allard said his "top education priority is to see more dollars reach the individual classrooms. I have met with many students, teachers, administrators and school board members who express an endless number and variety of needs they see in Colorado. I am concerned that Washington's one-size-fits-all approach to education reform will be harmful to taxpayers because of its enormous cost, and ultimately, will do little to improve public education."

Campbell said "the appropriations process this year was enormously difficult. Federal education spending - which accounts for eight percent of the nation's overall education spending - has increased 49 percent over the past two years, and many believe that money alone is not the answer, that the issue is to spend that money more wisely in brining reforms to the system."

He said a HELP committee is forming a rural education caucus in the Senate and it "would highlight problems and challenges rural districts are experiencing in trying to implement the No Child Left Behind Act and look for viable solutions."


Lots of help for infant's early arrival

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Peggy Walter was feeling great Wednesday morning. Thirty-two weeks pregnant with her first child, she'd had no contractions, no indication of complications of any kind.

Just a few hours later, she would deliver a 4-pound, 8.6-ounce baby boy at Mercy Medical Center in Durango after a mad dash to the hospital in an ambulance.

"Peggy is absolutely one of the toughest women I've ever met, beautifully tough," said Dr. John Piccaro, guessing that in most other cases the baby would have been born by the time they reached Chimney Rock.

Walter had to hold off pushing for nearly an hour to ensure her premature baby could be born close to the medical supplies he might need.

"The only reason we made it was because of Dr. John Piccaro and Dan Keuning," Walter said. "I really appreciate how well those guys worked together to get me there and how well the ambulance crew worked together. I couldn't have done it without them."

Walter dropped her husband off at work about 1:15 p.m. that afternoon. Shortly thereafter, her water broke. She went directly to Pagosa Family Medicine Center to be examined. She was almost completely dilated. An ambulance was called immediately.

"I heard dispatch say there was a woman in pre-term labor at Dr. Piccaro's office," Keuning said. "I just ran across the field to see if I could help." Keuning, a family nurse practitioner, works for the Upper San Juan Health Service District.

Soon, he and Piccaro, of Pagosa Family Medicine Center, were aboard the ambulance with three members of Emergency Medical Services - Molly Dorr, Mike Ferrell and Trevor Wallace.

The big decision, Piccaro said, was whether or not to stop and deliver the baby. With a premie, oxygenation and lung development were the biggest concerns and the team focused on getting Walter to Mercy Medical Center in Durango before she delivered. Her husband, Tim, followed in another vehicle.

"I really thought we were going to deliver in the ambulance," Peggy Walter said. "We made it to Durango with 10 minutes to spare and one push and there was Isaac."

Isaac Drayton Walter and his mother are doing well. However, Isaac will have to spend two or three weeks at the hospital before he makes the trip back to Pagosa.

"I think this is what we're here for," Keuning said. "It was a true collaboration between two entities who worked together to make something good happen."



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Weekend snow expected to halt warming trend

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Area streams and rivers were swollen with runoff as above-average temperatures and plentiful sunshine took their toll on the patchy blanket of snow that has cloaked Pagosa Country in bright white for the past week.

However, a slow-moving, low-pressure weather system approaching from the California coast may pack enough punch to fill in the gaps. According to Chris Cuoco, lead forecaster in the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction, snow or rain could be falling across the Four Corners by Sunday.

"This system looks like a fairly good one," said Cuoco, "It looks like it will hit southern Colorado Sunday afternoon and provide an increasing chance for rain and snow during the night and into Monday.

"Across higher elevations, decent amounts of snow can be expected, while lower elevations will experience either rain or light snow."

In the meantime, the next few days are expected to remain sunny and the mercury should stay well within the top half of the thermometer through the first half of the weekend.

According to Cuoco, sunshine should prevail throughout the remainder of today and high temperatures should climb into the upper 50s to low 60s. Nighttime skies will remain clear; lows are predicted to be in the 20s.

Blue skies are in the forecast for Friday, and highs should hover in the low 60s while lows should settle into the mid-20s.

Saturday calls for partly cloudy skies, highs in the 60s and lows in the mid-20s to mid-30s.

Sunday's forecast includes a chance for rain or snow in the afternoon. Highs should register in the mid-40s to mid-50s; lows will dip into the 20s.

The forecast for Monday indicates a high chance for snow in the morning and the chance for rain in the afternoon. Highs are expected to be in 40s while lows should range in the 20s.

A slight chance for rain or snow exists in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday. Highs should approach 40; lows are predicted to drop into the teens.

Despite the recent trend toward warmer weather, snowpack levels in area river basins suffered only slightly last week. Snowpack in the Upper San Juan Basin fell from 94 percent of average to 92 percent, while snowpack at the summit of Wolf Creek Pass remained constant at 80 percent of average.

Wolf Creek Ski Area received no new snowfall last week, but heads into its busiest two weeks of the year boasting a summit depth of 106 inches and midway depth of 99 inches.

Area temperature readings provided by the Fred Harman Art Museum indicate the average high temperature last week was 53 degrees; the average low was 13.

Last week's high of 61 was recorded Wednesday (yesterday) afternoon; the lowest temperature, 3, was recorded Thursday morning.

River flow in the San Juan River measured south of town last week ranged from approximately 25 cubic feet per second to over 80 cubic feet per second. The historic median stream flow for mid-March is 121 cubic feet per second.

Sports Page
Parks & Rec

Youth baseball signups loom in several leagues

By Joe Lister Jr.

SUN Columnist

The parks and recreation department is gearing up for youth baseball sign-up.

This year the department will sponsor, T-ball ( 5-6 year olds with players 5 years old by May 1), Coach pitch (7-8 ), Rookies (9-10) with players pitching the game with some rule modifications for this age group, and Bambinos (11-12).

Senior's (13-15)  and girls' fast pitch league (13-15) will be run in a club-like fashion with the only affiliation the town has with these groups being the organization of field use and  the training of umpires and scorekeepers.

Historically we have not had enough players sign up to form our own league, so travel and insurance problems have forced us to just help out with some of the organization of these leagues for older players.

Look for sign-up sheets to be handed out at the schools before spring break, and sign-up deadline some time afterward.

Park news

Mel Montoya, hired in January for the park maintenance job, was a member of the National Guard and has been called to active duty, presently stationed at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs.

In Mel's absence we have asked John Perea to help pick up some winter and spring slack.

John will be doing something different for the summer months and we appreciate him stepping in and helping the parks department out. We miss Mel and hope he gets to come home soon.  

In other happenings, in the parks division, the skate ponds have been closed due to the warm weather. Historically, we have not opened them again, even with extreme cold weather. This is because of the ice thickness and safety.

The crew has been diligently shoveling off the skate park after snowstorms so spring skate boarding is great. Come to South Pagosa Park and enjoy the spring weather.

Adult basketball

The adult basketball season is well underway with a total of 19 teams in competition including four teams in the Ladies League: Hanks Rim Rockers, Smithco and Concrete Connection, Tequila's and Pagosa Car Quest.

The men's recreation league is bigger than ever, with nine teams: American Legion/Pagosa Bar, Lord's Electric/Ponderosa Do It Best, La Familia sponsored by Lucero Tire, Timberline Framers, Viking Construction, The Shot Callers, Citizen's Bank, Pagosa Ski Rental/Sportsman Supply and Campground and Cabins and Fairfield.

Six teams make up the men's competition league with Young's Construction, Slack Attack sponsored by Wolf Creek Ski Area and Jann C. Pitcher Real Estate, Buckskin Towing and Repair, Concrete Connection, Hart Construction and Bear Creek Saloon and Grill. Thanks to all the sponsors.

Games are played at both junior high gymnasiums Mondays and Thursdays and in the Pagosa Springs Community Center gym Mondays and Tuesdays.

Game times are 6:15 and 7:15 p.m. Tournament play will begin for all teams after spring break.


Pirates edge Lake County, earn trip to Great Eight

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

And then there were eight ... including the Pirates.

Saturday was a nice day to be outside in Pagosa Springs. For Pirate basketball fans, it was even nicer to be inside the high school gym to watch Coach Jim Shaffer's squad edge Lake County in a Sweet-16 playoff thriller and earn the right to advance to the Great Eight in Colorado Springs.

In what was easily the most entertaining battle of the year, the Pirates added yet another chapter to a storybook campaign by winning their final home game of the season and securing their place among the finest and most successful teams in school history.

And it was only fitting that a Pirate senior drive the baseline to score the last points of the contest.

It was appropriate for a coach who has instilled the importance of good defense all year long to see one of his Pirates - properly attired with a patch over one eye - step up and make perhaps the biggest defensive play of the season late in the game.

And it was endearing for an emotional Pagosa crowd, which took delight in witnessing each of its team's previous 18 victories, to watch as the Pirates celebrated an achievement that most fans wanted them to win for themselves.

Initially, it looked as if it would come easy, but didn't. Pirate junior Ryan Goodenberger was on target with an early trey to open up a 3-0 lead for the home team. The Panthers' Dano Aldaz answered with a lone free throw, but consecutive scores from Pagosa's Clayton Spencer and senior Brandon Charles upped the lead to 7-1.

After a Panther timeout midway through the quarter, Lake County standout Kevin Jewell and teammate Isaac Martinez converted a pair of Pirate giveaways into four straight points to trail 7-5 with just over two minutes left in the first.

Pirate sophomore Caleb Forrest nailed a pair from the line, but Jewell responded with a late three-point play to draw his team within one. At the end of the first, Pagosa led 9-8.

Turnovers would plague the Pirates throughout the second quarter, and Lake County took advantage to score five straight early points and gain a 9-13 edge. Pagosa senior Jason Schutz countered with a deuce, but with two minutes gone the Panthers had extended the lead to 11-17.

The Pirates failed to get a shot off on three consecutive trips before Forrest got four straight with a deuce in the paint and a layup off a steal to get the Pirates within two at 15-17.

The Panthers emerged from a sideline huddle following a timeout with two minutes and 40 seconds remaining until the half, and to the dismay of the home crowd, appeared ready to milk the clock.

But a steal by Charles thwarted the effort and neither team would score until Forrest sank one of two from the stripe for the Pirates with two seconds left in the half. The Panthers failed to convert at the buzzer, but held a 16-17 lead at halftime.

After the third quarter got off to a late start because the overhead lights winked out during halftime, Forrest scored a pair of consecutive baskets to put the Pirates on top 20-17.

Then Jewell evened the score with a trey, and the pace quickened as the teams exchanged baskets and turnovers, trading the lead throughout the quarter.

Spencer and Forrest provided firepower for Pagosa, and when Charles stroked a three to regain the advantage for his team at 29-27, only two minutes remained in the stanza.

Jewell tied the game with two, Caler hit Goodenberger for a deuce, and Jewell answered right back with two more at the line to knot the score at 31 all.

With 20 seconds left, Caler found an opening in the Panther press and struck for the final points of the period, giving Pagosa a 33-31 lead heading into the deciding eight minutes of the game.

The two Pirate seniors combined for the first basket of the fourth quarter when Charles fed Schutz for two on the block. Lake County's Kevin Ruzicka scored on a put-back, but the home crowd erupted when Charles drilled a trey a minute later to widen the gap to five at 38-33.

Then Pirate fans feared the worst when Goodenberger left the court bleeding from a cut under his right eye. To add to the concern, Aldaz sank a three for the Panthers and teammate Richie Ince followed suit with another trey to put Lake County up 38-39 with five minutes left.

But the Pirates bounced back with two from Spencer to lead 40-39 before Schutz scored what would prove to be the last points of the game, hitting a soft baseline layup, and more importantly, stretching the lead to three.

With three minutes left, an anxious crowd watched as the Pirates flirted with disaster, turning the ball over on key possessions while somehow managing to hold the Panthers scoreless.

When Jewell fouled out with the clock reading 2:18, the Pirates breathed a little easier - but only temporarily. Two consecutive giveaways by the Pirates resulted in a one-and-one trip for the Panthers' Johnny Harrington with one minute left.

But Harrington missed the front end, and although the Pirates gave the ball back to Lake County seconds later, Forrest stepped in front of Aldaz to draw a charge with 20 ticks left.

Five seconds later, Charles stepped to the line for a one-and-one, but his attempt rimmed out and Ince raced across the halfcourt line, planted, squared and let go with a shot from behind the arc.

Then it happened.

Goodenberger, back on the court and sporting an adhesive bandage under his right eye, sprang from nowhere at the last possible second to deflect the attempt to Charles, who was fouled with only six seconds left in the contest.

Pirate fans rejoiced, and although Charles' attempt from the line didn't fall, a traveling call at the buzzer wiped out any chance for the Panthers to send the game to overtime.

The ecstatic home fans spilled onto the court to congratulate the Pirates, who took turns hoisting the regional championship trophy before ascending a ladder for the traditional net-cutting ceremony.

After emerging from the locker room, in a postgame interview an ice-water drenched Shaffer reflected on Goodenberger's pivotal play in the fourth.

"I don't think Ryan gets enough credit for the success of the team, said Shaffer, "All year long he's fit into the mold and has done whatever we've asked him to do, and he's made big plays at critical times, when it counted the most. Today was no exception."

Drying off with a jet black towel bearing the Pirate logo, which he indicated had been donated by a fan, Shaffer commented on the local support the team has received throughout the season, summing things up with one phrase.

"People sure have been good to us this year."

Then again, he and the Pirates have returned the favor all year long, and will have the chance to extend their season even further with a win today over undefeated No. 1 seed Colorado Springs Christian.

Game time is set for 11:45 a.m., but due to heightened national security concerns, the game, and all remaining contests of the Class 3A playoffs, will not be held at the Air Force Academy.

Instead, the games will be held at Widefield High School, 615 Widefield Drive, Colorado Springs.


Scoring: Forrest 6-8, 3-4, 15; Goodenberger 2-3, 0-1, 5; Jason Schutz 3-4, 0-0, 6; Charles 3-6, 0-2, 8; Spencer 3-7, 0-0, 6; Kern 0-0, 0-0, 0; Faber 0-0, 0-0, 0; Caler 1-2, 0-0, 2. Three-point goals: Goodenberger 1, Charles 2. Fouled out: none. Team assists: Pagosa Springs 15. Team rebounds: Pagosa Springs 18. Total fouls: Pagosa Springs 12.


Pirates corral Mustangs, sail into Sweet 16

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Ah, home sweet home.

That was likely the sentiment of Coach Jim Shaffer and his varsity boys' team Friday night when the No. 8 seed Pirates took the floor for warmups within the friendly confines of the Pagosa Springs High School gym to begin their state title bid against No. 25 seed Manitou Springs.

A capacity crowd of all ages was on hand for Pagosa's playoff opener, including the Pirate cheerleaders, the pep band and a full black and gold complement of adrenaline-charged students who stood throughout the contest. All were eager to cheer Shaffer's squad to victory and a birth in the Sweet 16, and the Pirates did not disappoint.

Junior Clayton Spencer controlled the tip for Pagosa, and seconds later teammate Caleb Forrest put the Pirates on the board first, hitting one of two free throws after being fouled along the baseline.

After Manitou's David Copelan responded with an inside deuce for the Mustangs, Pagosa senior Brandon Charles' lob to Spencer on an out-of-bounds play put the Pirates back on top. Spencer followed with two more less than a minute later and Pagosa led 5-2.

After a Manitou timeout, Forrest converted a steal into two and teammate Ryan Goodenberger drained a three to put the Pirates up 10-2 and whip the home crowd into a controlled frenzy.

Manitou's Ben Spiers countered with a trey, but after a pair of blocked shots by Pirate senior Jason Schutz, Forrest struck for two more to make it 12-5 with less than four minutes to play in the opening period.

But the feisty Mustangs weren't about to fold. After four straight low-post points from Forrest, they packed the lane on defense, forced several turnovers and put together a run in the final minutes to narrow the gap to one. At the end of the first, Pagosa led 16-15.

Manitou kept the lane congested early in the second, daring the Pirates to shoot from beyond the arc. The Pirates took the dare and got three straight treys from Jeremy Caler, Ty Faber and Goodenberger to push the lead to 10. Spencer added two, and the Pirates led 27-15 with five minutes to play.

Once again the Mustangs fought back with Spiers leading the charge, and although Spencer netted a deuce for Pagosa before the half, Pirate turnovers allowed Manitou to shave the lead. Inside attempts in the final seconds by Schutz and David Kern wouldn't fall and the Mustangs left the court within striking distance, trailing 29-22.

The Pirates responded, coming out strong in the third and getting quick baskets from Spencer and Forrest to counter a deuce from Spiers. Then Goodenberger hit Caler for an open three and the Pirates led by double digits at 36-24 with four minutes to play in the quarter.

Spiers cut the lead back to nine with a trey before Schutz sank one of two from the stripe for the Pirates to give Pagosa a 10-point lead at 37-27. Manitou got a free throw from Joey Weizenecker and an inside two from Josh Anderson in the waning minutes, but Spencer added two late charity tosses and Pagosa led 39-30 at the end of three.

No one in the stands was aware of it as the Pirates got set to inbound the ball along the home sideline to start the final period, but it was soon apparent Shaffer had decided to boost the decibel level in the gymnasium on his team's first possession of the quarter.

Just seconds in, Charles lofted a perfect lead pass to Forrest flying along the left baseline and the sophomore's two-handed flush was met with a prolonged thundering roar from the home crowd.

The play put the energized Pirates up 41-30 and seemed to deflate the Mustangs, who would fall far further behind as the quarter unfolded. Spiers hit both ends of a one-and-one for Manitou, but Forrest struck for four straight and Spencer added two as the Pirates jumped up by 15 to lead 47-32 with under six minutes left in the game.

Forrest and Faber dropped in four from the line; Charles was fouled on a drive and added a free throw as Pagosa padded the lead to 20. Manitou would get no closer, adding only three before game's end while the Pirates held the lead.

A standing ovation from the Pagosa fans during the final minute was capped off with a deuce from Brandon Samples at the buzzer and the Pirates sailed into the Sweet 16 of the state playoffs with a 56-35 first-round victory.

Forrest led all scorers with 21, Spencer had 14 and Goodenberger and Caler each put up six. Charles led in assists with 9.

In attendance and scouting the Pirates throughout the contest were the No. 9 seed Lake County Panthers, who were victorious over No. 24 seed Roosevelt in the preceding game. Boasting an overall record of 19-3, the Panthers loomed as the next threat to the Pirates' chance for a trip north to the Great Eight.

After the game, Shaffer acknowledged that the road to Colorado Springs would not get any smoother when the Pirates took the court for Saturday's 1 p.m. battle with Lake County.

"We've got a huge obstacle in front of us," said Shaffer. "But we're definitely looking forward to playing them. We just need to come and compete as always."

When asked what he thought would be key during the game pitting two of the state's top 3A teams against one another, Shaffer said, "The game is going to be all about defense; we'll need to come out and contest shots, but offensively I think we'll be fine."

And as for the infectious excitement resulting from the Pirates playing host for the first two rounds of the state playoffs?

"You can never anticipate what's going to happen once you get to this level, but so far, it's been great fun."


Scoring: Forrest 8-15, 5-7, 21; Goodenberger 2-8, 0-0, 6; Jason Schutz 0-5, 1-2, 1; Charles 0-6, 1-2, 1; Spencer 6-8, 2-3, 14; Kern 0-4, 0-0, 0; Faber 1-3, 2-2, 5; Caler 2-4, 0-0, 6; Ross 0-1, 0-0, 0; Samples 1-1, 0-0 2; Belarde 0-0, 0-0, 0; Rand 0-0, 0-0, 0. Three-point goals: Goodenberger 2, Caler 2, Faber 1. Fouled out: none. Team assists: Pagosa Springs 15. Team rebounds: Pagosa Springs 33. Total fouls: Pagosa Springs 15.


Bighouse proves jinx to Ladies again

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Maybe it is some hidden characteristic of the venue.

Or maybe there is just a jinx associated with the Basalt High School gymnasium known as "The Bighouse."

Whatever the reason, the Pagosa Springs Lady Pirates' basketball team is getting tired of the frustration found in the Aspen access community.

Last year, the Ladies took on the host school and scored a quick seven points to go up and enhance their dreams.

This year, a vastly different team, one which had exceeded expectations all season, scored the first five points of the game.

In each instance, however, the opposition had taken the lead by the end of the first period.

This time the protagonist was Kent Denver, entering the Basalt regional with a 19-3 record while Pagosa brought in a 12-9 mark.

Adding to the frustration was the Lady Pirates' penchant for digging themselves big holes and then trying to fight their way back from their largesse.

Pagosa took the early lead with a trey from the left wing by senior point guard and co-captain Shannon Walkup.

They added two more on a spinning move to the bucket by sophomore center Caitlyn Jewell and had a 5-0 lead with less than two minutes gone in the game.

Kent, after a quick time out, responded with a pair of three-pointers, one by Hailey Marsh and another by Jennifer Moore to take the lead. Jewell answered with a pair of free throws and Pagosa took the lead back.

But only temporarily.

Jana Berglund, who would lead all scorers with 18, hit the first four of her points on a pair of offensive rebound putbacks and Kent led 10-7 after one.

Not too bad, Pagosa fans were thinking. Their girls had battled back from much worse deficits all season.

But they were outscored 13-8 in the second period with Kate Kourlis joining the Kent attack with a pair of field goals in route to a 14-point game and Marsh adding five more, including her second trey, and Berglund hitting two more field goals inside.

Pagosa got lone field goals from Bri Scott, Lori Walkup and Emily Buikema and a pair of free throws from Walkup.

Pagosa found themselves down 23-15 at the halftime break and looking for a spark, any spark, in the final half.

Jewell opened the half for Pagosa with an offensive rebound putback for a pair to cut the lead to six.

But Marsh drilled her third trey to hike it back to nine. Kourlis hit two more deuces and Pagosa was down 13. Then it was Bergland hitting again to stretch the lead to 15.

Coach Bob Lynch called time out and delivered a "get your heads in the game" message, exhorting his players to see the whole floor and take advantage of Kent's sagging defense, designed to stop Jewell.

That helped to some extent, particularly in the shooting eye of Bri Scott.

On the next possession she drained a three from deep on the right wing and moments later, hit another from almost the same spot. The lead had been cut to nine.

Berglund and Moore each answered with deuces for Kent to stretch the lead back to 13. Pagosa's Walkup sisters chipped in with a field goal apiece and the lead was down, again, to nine. Moore scored for Kent just before the buzzer and the Denver squad took and 38-27 lead into the final period.

And then the drive to catch up began in earnest.

Scott faked a three, beat her defender and drilled a 12-foot jumper to cut the lead to nine again. Shannon Walkup fired in her second three and the lead was down to six.

Bergland stretched it back to ten with back to back field goals.

Jewell answered with a field goal, Katie Bliss chipped in two free throws and suddenly the lead was down to four.

Scott hit a charity toss to cut it to three and after a basket by Kourlis, Jewell cut it back to three at 40-37.

Kent called another time out and when play resumed went to full court pressure. Shannon Walkup beat the press and hit Scott in the corner. Her feed to Lori Walkup was good for two points and the lead was down to 40-39 with 3:21 left.

Unfortunately, that, with the exception of one more field goal from Jewell, was the end of the Pagosa offense.

Shannon fouled out with 2:37 to go as Pagosa tried to stop the clock and maintain a chance while the clock ran down.

Kent was eight of 18 from the free throw line in the game, all of them coming in the last three minutes of the game and providing the final 54-45 margin and the right to move on to face the host school which defeated Denver Christian.

Basalt beat Kent by 30 points in the regional final to advance to today's opening round of state championship finals in Colorado Springs.

For the Lady Pirates, it was the end of the season but the beginning of a new dream. Only two seniors will be lost from this year's squad, Shannon Walkup and Katie Bliss.

The balance of the squad was all sophomores and freshmen and Lynch will have an undefeated junior high team moving up to contend for action next year, too.

For the game, Pagosa shot 16 of 39 from the floor for 41 percent. Kent was 21 of 31 for a sparkling 67 percent.

Pagosa had a 30-18 rebounding edge.


Scoring: Scott 4-7 (two 3s), 1-1, 11; S. Walkup, 3-8 (two 3s), 0-2, 8; L. Walkup, 3-7, 4-4, 10; Kelly, 0-3, 0-1, 0; Bliss, 0-2, 2-2, 2; Jewell, 5-8, 2-4, 12; Buikema, 1-1, 2. Rebound leaders: L. Walkup 10, Jewell 9, Bliss 5. Steals leader: L. Walkup 2. Assist leaders: S. Walkup 3 and L. Walkup 2. Blocks: Buikema 1.


Pirate diamond crew opens with a gem

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

They had to go 112 miles to find it, but the Pagosa Springs Pirates got some action on a real baseball field March 6.

It was at Kirtland Central High School, west of Farmington in northern New Mexico. No more swinging in a batting cage inside a tiny, poorly lighted room.

No more wondering what a bounce off real turf would be like. No more pitching off parking lot pavement instead of a mound.

And so, coach Tony Scarpa and his diamond demons got to sample the real thing.

And sample, and sample and then sample some more.

The hosts were just overflowing with baseball largesse.

In the first inning , for example, Pagosa sent 11 men to the plate and scored five runs, all with only one base hit.

Seven Pagosa baserunners reached on walks, one on a fielder's choice and one on an error by the Broncos' second baseman.

The lone Pagosa hit, a line shot single by Marcus Rivas, produced the team's first run batted in of the year. But, it was an unearned run, scored by Josh Stone after he walked, was balked to second, and wild-pitched to third.

Before the first frame was over Rivas scored, pushed home by the last of three consecutive walks wrapped around a fielder's choice by Michael Dach. Levi Gill reached on the second baseman's error and three more walks led to the balance of runs in the inning before Rivas, batting for the second time, bounced to first for the third out.

Stone, after running the bases and watching the parade of runners behind him, may have been a little tight to start the bottom of the first.

He walked the leadoff batter before striking out the next two hitters and then giving up a single. A misplayed fly ball produced two runs for Kirtland and it seemed like Pagosa might be in for a tough game.

But Stone responded with the third of his seven strikeouts for the game and the inning was over, Pagosa leading 5-2.

Then the roof caved in on Kirtland.

The Pirates combined six hits, three more walks, a wild pitch, a fielder's choice and a center field error to produce nine more runs in the second inning and hike the lead to 14-2.

Stone picked up his fourth whiff to open the second, got a ground ball to short for the second out, plunked a batter and then got a popup to short to escape unphased in the bottom of the inning.

Pagosa had two walks and a hit batsman in the third, but scored only one run and hiked the lead to 15-2.

For Kirtland, the third inning was another quick affair. A walk, a strikeout, a fly to left and a ground out to second brought the Pirates back to the plate - and eight more runs were about to be delivered.

It all started with catcher Ben Marshall grounding to first. Then the onslaught began anew.

First baseman Lawren Lopez followed with a single, moved up on a double by Dach, stayed at third as Jarrett Frank walked to load the bases and then scored along with Dach when Levi Gill's drive to third was misplayed.

Zeb Gill, batting for Clayton Mastin, drew a walk and after Tom Hutchins struck out, Stone singled and Rivas tripled, Marshall and Lopez each singled and Mesker struck out to end the frame, Pagosa up 23-2.

Scarpa brought Frank to the mound for the Kirtland fourth and, after getting the first batter on a bouncer to Lopez, he allowed four consecutive runners on a walk, a hit batter, and two singles before striking out the number two and three hitters in the Bronco lineup to escape with just one run allowed and the score at 23-3 after four innings.

The fifth was a repeat performance for Pagosa.

Frank singled and Levi Gill singled him to third. Zeb Gill had a sacrifice fly. Hutchins singled, Stone singled, Rivas walked and Marshall was hit by a pitch before Lopez grounded to first. Mesker reached on an error by the third baseman, Frank walked and each of the Gills singled before Hutchins popped out to end the frame, Pagosa ahead 31-3.

Kirtland's first batter in the fifth grounded to second but when the next hitter walked, Scarpa went to the mound and pulled Frank in favor of Travis Marshall who had been slated to pitch in the junior varsity game which - it became rapidly obvious - would not be played because darkness was rapidly approaching as the varsity contest edged toward the three-hour mark.

Travis' first varsity outing opened with a walk. He got the next batter on a popup to Levi Gill, but then gave up a single and two walks before striking out the final man he faced.

Kirtland got a pair of consolation runs in the inning and Pagosa was a 31-5 winner in a game stopped, finally by the mercy rule.

The 1-0 Pirates are scheduled for a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday in Antonito.


Pagosa 31-18-1, Kirtland, 5-4- 3. RBI leaders for Pagosa: Stone 5, Rivas 4, Z. Gill 2. Hits leaders for Pagosa: Rivas 3, B. Marshall 3, Lopez 3. Winning pitcher: Stone, 1-0.


Offensive execution, stout goalkeeping net Ladies win

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Your goalkeeper makes 14 saves, two in spectacular fashion on the same play.

A senior veteran defender turns scorer and another senior turns in a brilliant reverse kick goal.

A sophomore attacker less than 72 hours from competing in girls basketball playoffs turns in an outstanding game from a wing position.

Defenders are in the right places at the right time and Pagosa records 12 blocks-takeaways.

Sounds like the recipe for a victory.

And, it was.

The Pagosa Springs Lady Pirates soccer team evened their season record at 1-1 Monday with a 2-0 whitewash of a Durango junior varsity/varsity split squad at Riverview Field in Durango.

The Pagosans appeared to be in charge all the way, getting four of the first five shots on goal in the game and opening the scoring at 12:29 with perfect execution.

That goal, by Sara Aupperle, came on a breakaway with a lead crossing pass from senior striker Meagan Hilsabeck.

Aupperle, outrunning defenders, deked to her right drawing the Durango keeper that way, then drilled the shot over her right shoulder into the upper left corner of the goal.

Less than two minutes later, Durango had its best opportunity to score but Sierra Fleenor was up to the challenge.

An errant outlet kick was intercepted by a Durango attacker 30 yards out. As she stormed in on goal, Fleenor hugged the middle.

The shot was to her right and she dived almost to the post to knock it back out but could not capture it.

Both she and the attacker saw it dribbling right in front of the net.

As the attacker took aim for her second shot on the play Fleenor dived flat out to her right as foot hit ball.

Stopped again! And this time Fleenor held on. Two stops on one play.

Hilsabeck had a scoring opportunity at 66 seconds later, drilling a riser from left middle that was stopped.

Four minutes and 17 seconds later, Fleenor was tested again, this time facing a three-on-one attack.

The shot came from 18 yards on her left and she cradled it in as if it were a baby.

At the 21-minute mark Aupperle had a chance for her second goal but it clipped the right goal post and was diverted back along the outside of the net. And at 25:12, on almost an identical play, her shot was turned away again.

In the balance of the half, Pagosa pressure resulted in seven more shots on goal but no scores, leading to a paper thin 1-0 Pagosa margin at the break.

The Durango squad came out determined to tie the score in the early minutes of the second half.

A shot from the left wing sailed high over the net, Fleenor made a save on a drive up the middle and another Durango effort hit the left post, all in the first two minutes and 30 seconds of the period.

Then Pagosa turned offensive again.

Sophomore Bri Scott, who had played late Friday in basketball finals, got the Pirates started with a takeaway 25 yards out. Her crossing pass to Aupperle produced a shot that was wide right. Then, Hilsabeck intercepted the outlet pass and drilled a point-blank riser that was snared by the Durango keeper.

At 51:25, the Pirates executed perfection and Pagosa's lead grew to 2-0.

It started deep on the right wing where Kyrie Beye lofted a floating crossing pass into the middle.

It seemed a harmless effort until senior captain left wing Tricia Lucero seemed to come from nowhere. Lucero and the ball arrived simultaneously in midfield 20 yards out.

A sidekick surprised the front defenders and the keeper could only watch as it looped over her head.

For all practical purposes, that shot salted away the game.

The Lady Pirates either barred Durango from shots the rest of the way or had the attackers in such tenuous positions that their shots were ineffective.

Fleenor did make four more saves but all were on poorly struck balls that were simple saves.

Aupperle and Lucero each had possible second goals in the closing minutes, but Aupperle's kick was stopped without harm and Lucero's blast from 25 yards was caught in the crosswind and sailed just outside the right post.

After the game coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason was effusive in his praise of his squad's teamwork.

"To a player," he told the team, "You showed how to come back from a loss (to Montrose Saturday), how to meld as a team, how to work together."

He said the team still has some problems to overcome but far fewer than he had seen in the opener.

Because of a field not ready for play, the scheduled home game between Pagosa Springs and Denver West Thursday will be played at the Bayfield high school facility at 4 p.m.

The scheduled home game Friday against Telluride, the league opener for the Pirates, will be played on the same Riverview field in Durango where the Ladies were victorious Monday.

Game time for this game, too, will be 4 p.m.


Shots on goal: Pagosa 16, Durango 13. Saves: Fleenor, Pagosa 14, Durango keeper 12. Scoring: Aupperle 12:29, assist Hilsabeck; Lucero 51:25, assist Beye. No penalies.


Ladies drop soccer opener 7-0 in Montrose

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

What can a coach expect when his team has been limited to practicing in up to eight inches of snow?

What can he hope for when that team opens its season on the road against a powerhouse in Class 4A?

Respectability might be the answer.

Coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason had those questions in mind Saturday when the Lady Pirates soccer team opened on the road in Montrose.

Not only had the hosts had dry fields to practice on, they also had already played in a multi-team scrimmage in Grand Junction.

The result, as one might expect, was a defeat for Pagosa, a 7-0 whitewash.

But it wasn't all bad news as far as Kurt-Mason was concerned.

"We got worked over pretty well," he said, "but much of it was just lack of practice. We learned some things in the contest that will help down the road."

Seven goals against must indicate a defensive problem, right.

Kurt-Mason doesn't think so. Sierra Fleenor "played well in net," he said. "But her support just wasn't there."

"We were too tentative, choosing to kick the ball back instead of attacking," he said. And that is one of the lessons we expect to pay dividends.

Some of the youngsters may have panicked in their first action, he said, and others may have been worried about working in new positions.

He said three-time all-conference striker Meagan Hilsabeck "looked good" on the attack and he was "very pleased" with the play of veteran sweeper Sara Aupperle who has been converted into an attacker.

"Everyone made some mistakes," he said, "and they all just added up."

But it was a learning experience for the squad and Kurt-Mason said he expects continued improvement as time wears on.


Track team begins warm-up to season

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Snow is no obstacle for the Pagosa Springs tracksters. In fact, they've been using the precipitation to their advantage, practicing sprints in the deep stuff.

"The snow actually helped us," Head Coach Connie O'Donnell said. "We have sprinted in the deep snow for some of our conditioning."

Early in the season, the team boasts a roster 46 deep with five returning state qualifiers and three alternates on the boys' side.

Jason Schutz, who qualified for four events at state as a junior, returns for his senior season. He is joined by three of the four members of the 3200-meter state relay team, juniors Aaron Hamilton, Brandon Samples, a qualifier in three events, and senior Todd Mees.

Junior Jeremy Buikema, who competed in the 1600-meter relay and the 400-meter dash last year, also returns. Senior Brian Hart, who qualified for the 110-hurdles at state his first year out, is back looking to medal. Junior Daniel Earley and sophomores Manuel Madrid and Otis Rand got their first taste of state as alternates and will be searching for a return route.

The girls missed sending a 1600-meter relay team to state by just four seconds at regionals in 2002. Returning as seniors, racers Katie Bliss, Ashley Wagle and Amanda McCain will be, perhaps, in search of a second chance.

These experienced runners will be joined by a class of 18 incoming freshmen. A total of nine sophomores, six juniors and 13 seniors are also out for the team early in the season.

"Practice is going great," O'Donnell said. "Our goals this year are to really help kids to see a difference not only in their times, but also their work ethic, pain tolerance and their desire to compete. We are going to write down pre-season verticals, times, etc. and then compare them at the end of the season so that kids can really see their improvement."

The tracksters kick off their season at the San Juan Basin Relays in Cortez March 21 starting at 1 p.m. Freshmen and sophomores travel to Monte Vista April 1 for an underclassmen meet.

From there, the Pirates head to Bloomfield for the Bobcat Relays April 5. Races start at 9 a.m. In a new twist to the schedule for 2003, the team is slated to run in the Pueblo Challenge Cup April 11-12. The cup is run in Pueblo's Dutch Clark Stadium, site of state races, and will give the Pirates a taste of different competition. The meet starts at 2 p.m. on April 11 and 9 a.m. April 12.

April 18 the team will compete in Bayfield at the Pine River Invitational starting at 9 a.m. To end regular season competition, the Pirates will travel to the San Luis Valley Invitational in Alamosa on April 26. Again, races start at 9 a.m.

Intermountain League district competition is set for May 3 in Bayfield. Regionals are scheduled May 10, but a site has yet to be announced. The state track meet will by May 17-18 in Pueblo.

Assistant track coaches include: Sean O'Donnell, Scott White and J.D. Kurz.


44 Pagosa Pee Wee wrestlers place in first tourney

The Pagosa Springs Pee Wee Wrestling Club hosted its first tournament of the year Saturday, with 44 of 73 club participants placing.

Teams from six other schools were on hand in a new format this year for the Four Corners wrestling federation.

Under that format, two tournaments are held each Saturday with seven teams participating in each.

Pagosa, for example, will be in Farmington this Saturday.

Placing for Pagosa Springs in the opener were, in Divison I, Tyler Cowan first, Trevor Stewart second, Noah Sisneros third, and Carson McKee and Tavin Hauger both fourth.

In Division II, Chris Rivas and Nikolas Monteferrante were first; Keith Archuleta, Bailey Brooker, Luke DeVooght and Cody Kimsey each were second; Morgan Shelton, Austin Courtney, Robert Courtney, Walker Powe, Parker Hill, Chris Archuleta and Kyler McKee were third, and Aaron Clark fourth.

In Division III, E.J. Romero and Jeremy Smith were first; Amario Guthrie was second; Cody Snow, Robert Koontz, K.C. Lord, Jesse Reed, Isaiah Rivas, Levi Wilkins and Preston Sandoval were third, and Travis Maley fourth.

In Division IV, Pagosa winners were Chris Pacheco, first, Boone Stahlnecker and Waylon Lucero, second, Justine Smith, Dillon Sandoval and Derek Hujus third, and Shasta McMurry fourth.

In Division V, Pagosa medalists were Steven Smith and Andy Abresch, first; Caleb Pringle second, and Mike Smith and Bradley Rivas third.


Inside The Sun

High school track construction project moving ahead under new architects

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

The new track facility at Pagosa Springs High School's Golden Peaks Stadium is on course for completion by deadline with a new architectural firm guiding the work.

Reynolds Eccher Anderson (REA) of Durango, now with offices in Pagosa Springs, has taken over the project from Julia Donoho.

Company representatives told members of the school board of

Archuleta County District 50 Joint Tuesday that some snow removal has been done, framework for a cement base for supports of a new press box has been started, excavation for some track event sites has begun, and cement work for all event sites should be completed by the May deadline, weather allowing.

Anyone passing by will be able to see the long excavation at the north end of the field where the long jump facility will be installed.

An additional asphalting of the new track will take place as soon as consistent temperatures allow.

After that asphalt has cured (three to four weeks) the firm supplying the actual track surface will be ready for installation.

The project engineer said the firm expects to have all of the cement work done by month's end.

Donoho had notified the board she was closing her practice and returning to college but had subcontracted and referred existing contracts to REA.

Courtney King, an intern in her offices, has been retained by REA to coordinate the local school project and others in the community.

In other action Tuesday, the board:

- formally accepted the resignation of director Russel Lee, who has moved from the district and set in motion the process for naming a replacement to serve out the remainder of his term which ends in November

- after a brief executive session, approved the expulsion of one student

- in a combined motion approved the resignations of deaf interpreter Debbie Love, teacher aide Donna Rader, assistant baseball coach Rick Schur and assistant wrestling coach Myron Stretton.


Vote set on Lower Blanco fire inclusion

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Fifteen voters will have a chance to decide if about 194 acres along County Road 335 will become part of the Pagosa Fire Protection District in August.

Members of the district's board of directors approved a resolution calling for the election Aug. 5 at a public hearing Tuesday.

A handful of residents from the Lower Blanco area being considered for inclusion attended, raising their hands when asked for a show of approval for the project.

One resident, Nile Jacob, whose estimated 30 acres was part of the original inclusion, requested in writing to remain outside the protection district. His request was granted by the district's board.

If approved by the voters, the inclusion will be official in 2004 or 2005 with a few conditions. Residents of the area must provide three additional volunteer firefighters, one dry hydrant and a drafting point. The inclusion of the Rio Blanco Cabin Sites Unit One must not adversely impact the ISO rating of the rest of the district, and property owners will be responsible for coming up with the funds for the hydrant and the cost of a mail-ballot election.

In other business, the board discussed a standard operating procedure policy for extrication, approved a policy for using the weight room in the newly-remodeled Station 1 and set dates for an open house to show off the facility on North Pagosa Boulevard. The open house will be 1-4 p.m. May 4.

Although firefighters have been performing extrication in automobile accidents for quite some time, the job was technically the duty of Emergency Medical Services until March 1 when extrication tools were transferred to the fire district. Back in January, Fire Chief Warren Grams appeared before the Upper San Juan Health Service District board to request that extrication become the official duty of the fire district to better allow medical personnel to attend to patient care.

Grams reported that the district also held a basic extrication training course on March 1. About 26 firefighters attended the eight-hour training. A draft of the standard operating procedures for extrication was presented to the board Tuesday.

Board member Terry Windnagel suggested that the procedures include a requirement that personnel attempting extrication be first responder certified. A section on blood-borne diseases should also be included, he said. Firefighters interested in training for extrication duties will be given the opportunity to be vaccinated for Hepatitis B. Those who choose not to receive the vaccine will have to sign a waiver.

All together, training, vaccines and new equipment will cost the district an estimated $50,000. Equipment received from the health service district was purchased in the early 1990s and requires replacement, Grams said. Money will be reallocated from a contingency fund in this year's budget to cover the costs.


School board will ask letters from candidates

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Candidates to replace Russel Lee as a member of the board of education for Archuleta County School District 50 Joint will be screened by incumbent board members.

The board decided Tuesday to ask all persons interested in the post to write letters to the board explaining their qualifications, reasons for seeking the post and whether they would be willing to run for reelection when the term expires in November.

Lee was transferred by his employer and no longer lives in the district.

Since the appointment to fill the vacancy will be an interim assignment, it appears the candidate selected need not reside in the district though it would be preferable.

Each member of the board will examine the letters and make their own recommendations.

Each candidate will be asked to appear at the April 8 board meeting for personal questioning.

The board anticipates naming a replacement that night.

When asked for volunteers to fill Lee's board responsibilities, director Jon Forrest said he'd take the post as representative to the Board of Cooperative Services, a joint purchasing and class development program involving five school districts.

At the same time, director Carol Feazel agreed to accept Lee's former designation as board vice president.

It was Feazel who made the motion to "regretfully" accept Lee's resignation. Director Randall Davis, board president, said he was "sorry to see Russ leave early," and director Clifford Lucero said, "He was a great board member, we've been lucky to have him. I learned a great deal from serving with him."

In other action Tuesday the board adopted a revised school calendar for the 2003-04 school year, adopting the plan approved by teachers in a 107-40 vote.

Because state law requires 1,080 hours of class time for high schools but only 990 hours for elementary schools, there will be differences in the days of attendance.

Basically, the school year will open staff work days Aug. 21 and 22 and the first day of classes will be Monday Aug. 25.

There will be no school Sept. 1, Labor Day; first parent/teacher conferences will be Thursday, Oct. 2; Oct. 3 will be a staff in-service day with no classes.

Thanksgiving break will begin Wednesday, Nov. 26; the first semester ends Dec. 19, and winter break will be Dec. 22 through Jan. 5 which will be a staff work day with no classes.

There will be no school Jan. 19, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Feb. 6 (in-service day) or Feb. 16, President's Day; and spring break will run March 11 through 19.

There will be no school Good Friday, April 9, or on April 12. May 21 will be the last day of school and graduation is scheduled May 22.


PAWS directors uncertain about future of cloud seeding

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Snowfall during the month of February was plentiful in Pagosa Country, but the board of directors of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District isn't entirely prepared to attribute the bounty to area cloud-seeding efforts.

To add to the debate, while discussing whether or not to honor a request for a funding decision from the San Juan Water Conservancy District for this year's continued effort, the board learned that the firm responsible for the seeding, Western Weather Consultants, has exceeded the number of cloud-seeding hours prescribed in the original contract.

Board member Karen Wessels cited a copy of a recent letter addressed to Fred Schmidt, president of the San Juan Water Conservancy District, indicating the project is now over budget.

The letter, dated March 10, was apparently sent to Schmidt by Larry Hjermstad, owner of Western Weather Consultants, and conveys Hjermstad has performed cloud seeding for approximately 130 hours above and beyond what the contract stipulates.

Included in the letter is the notion that Hjermstad be reimbursed for the 130 extra hours of cloud seeding already performed and the suggestion that he perform another 720 hours of seeding at a total cost of $11,135.

However, Wessels and her fellow board members were uncomfortable with the possibility of contributing funds before being presented with proof positive the seeding is having an impact on area weather patterns.

"I think we need some clarification," said Wessels, adding, "Otherwise I can't see going forward with any type of firm commitment."

The board made a preliminary decision to pledge $20,000 last year to help fund the project, but did not formally offer a proposal as to when it would release the funding.

Reviewing the request from the San Juan board, Wessels said, "The way I'm reading this, it sounds like they would like a decision on funding right now, this year."

But citing the lack of further details on the purported success of the project, after further discussion the board decided to table the issue, postponing a decision until more information can be obtained from Hjermstad.

The listed cost for the five-month project is roughly $80,000, the bulk of which ($40,000) is currently being provided by the San Juan Water Conservancy District. Also participating in the effort is the Southwest Water Conservation District.

Apparently, both districts would appreciate a steadfast opinion on the issue from PAWS so that a determination as to whether or not to continue the project in future years can be made.

According to Jay Harrington, member of the board directors of the San Juan Water Conservancy District, a decision by PAWS to participate in the seeding effort will be most welcome, but any decision would facilitate the next course of action.

"Without knowing if PAWS is participating, we can't commit any further," said Harrington.

With respect to the "proof" sought by PAWS, Harrington indicated Schmidt is currently in the process of drafting a letter to Hjermstad requesting detailed statistical information obtained during the months the project took place, including an outline of the dates and number of hours seeding was performed.

As for the extra cost to continue the project, Harrington said Hjermstad's letter is ambiguous with respect to who should cover the expense, or if the letter was indeed an actual demand for funds. In either case, Harrington indicated the San Juan board isn't going to foot the bill.

"We're not going to be the ones to do that," said Harrington.


County board addresses 'satisfactory progress' issue

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

The Archuleta County Board of Commissioners and members of county planning staff took part in a lengthy, occasionally heated financial debate with a local business owner Tuesday.

At the heart of the discussion was the question of whether or not work relating to the pedestrian trails project, performed by U-Can-Afford Landscaping Inc., is being completed in a timely and satisfactory manner.

Don Ford, owner of the company, appeared before the board to request that the county release retainage funds to him in the amount of $3,500 for work that had already been completed on the trails project.

But before the board could reach a decision, Greg Comstock, county development director, addressed the board and said he felt the anticipated timeframe for the project had been unjustly exceeded and that the release of more money would be questionable.

Comstock said he believed the project could have been completed last year. In addition, Comstock conveyed that if the project is not completed by the final extension deadline of June 30, the county is at risk of forfeiting a $65,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado. "We will eat that if this thing is not done," said Comstock.

Ford disagreed, saying the bid for the project was put out last March and work could have started in April or May. But, said Ford, after being awarded the contract he did not receive the notice to proceed until late July. By that time, he said, his company was busy with other projects. Nevertheless, Ford indicated the project is 95 percent done and everyone involved had been paid in full.

Ford also felt that time was not an issue, since he estimated the completion of the project would involve approximately 10 working days and the deadline wasn't until the end of June. "We have another month extension ... we shouldn't even be here this morning," exclaimed Ford.

Commissioner Bill Downey wondered who was at fault for the apparent delay, and Comstock answered that bid proposals had come in late and there were a few minor problems securing the bond for the project.

But Comstock also said Ford's allusion to the possibility that work could have begun last April or May was irrelevant because the contract (requiring work be completed in 90 days) hadn't been signed at the time.

Mary Weiss, county attorney, asked Ford why he hadn't requested an amendment to the contract if he was concerned about starting work in late July.

Ford responded by saying several change orders with respect to the project had been made, but even without an amendment, with allowance for weather delays the plan was still on schedule. Ford said there should be "no argument about the timeframe situation, we're all within that.

"I'm just curious about what is not satisfactory," said Ford.

"We're not talking about the work, we're talking about the progress," answered Weiss.

"I don't see anything in the information we received that indicates (everyone) is satisfied," said Downey, indicating he was hesitant to release funds.

Ford countered by saying conversely, nothing - except for Comstock's opinion - had been provided that indicated anyone was unhappy with the quality or timeframe of the work.

But Downey reiterated that he would feel more comfortable with a formal letter in hand stating everything had been approved and completed satisfactorily and on time.

Again Ford disagreed, and wondered if he was being labeled a scapegoat because the county, in his opinion, seemed mainly concerned about the GOCO funds. "I'm supposed to be the one worried about the grant?" asked Ford.

"It is my belief that this project would not have been completed anyway; I believe Mr. Ford was saved by weather delays," said Comstock.

"Hold it, hold it everybody, we're talking about two different things here," said Alden Ecker, board chairman. Ecker suggested everyone return the focus to the initial request for $3,500 in money for completed work and worry about the side issues at a later date.

Weiss interjected, citing wording in the contract which indicated that satisfactory progress was an integral factor in determining if, and how much, retainage money would continue to be released.

"Why are you worried about retainage if you have a bond?" asked Ford.

"Because this is cash," answered Weiss, explaining that any attempts to collect on the bond if the project were not completed by deadline would have to be settled in court.

"Meanwhile you have my money," said Ford, "It's only fair that I get my money back."

Ford said Davis Engineering, the firm charged with overseeing the project, had indeed approved all aspects of the work thus far, including items such as grading, soil compaction, etc. As a result, he felt the retainage should be released.

Weiss repeated her stance, affirming that, to date, she felt satisfactory progress had not been made. Comstock agreed.

Ford asked for clarification, adding , "You can't just say it." Ford continued, "How much experience does Mr. Comstock have in this area?"

Downey lightheartedly responded by saying he didn't feel Ford would care to know how much experience the county had with regard to "unsatisfactory work progress" and that Comstock's assessment was enough to sway the board.

After further discussion, the board decided that a letter will be sent to Davis Engineering requesting an opinion on the work Ford has completed thus far before the county will release further retainage funds to him.


Salute to EMS

Dear Editor,

I had the opportunity to use the services of our EMS system a few weeks ago. I didn't plan it that way, believe me.

From start to finish, the expertise and care exhibited was outstanding and deserves recognition.

I took a nasty and kinda freaky spill at Wolf Creek and ended up breaking my back. I would later find out I partially crushed (compressed) one of my lumbar vertebra.

I want to publicly thank Sam and the crew on the Ski Patrol for successfully getting rather a large guy off a precarious part of the mountain with such a sensitive injury. Having skied on a patrol myself in college, I remember a little about the duty. And, they did everything right to protect my back and get me off safely.

They took care of my ski equipment and gathered up my stuff from the lodge. Sam even drove my car down to Mary Fisher Clinic at the end of the day and stopped in to check on me!

I want to thank Cathy and the ambulance crew for taking good care of me and doing what they could to make me comfortable in a very uncomfortable situation strapped to a backboard and riding head-first down the pass. And, they stuck around the clinic after their delivery to stay with me.

Drs. Susan and Mark and the staff at the clinic, especially the X-ray technician, deserve a big thank you for getting me right in and taking care of things. I guess when you come in the side door instead of the front door, that means it's serious.

I know a few people put in a little overtime that evening. I overheard one call home to say she'd be late; she didn't know how late. I was more important than her family.

I've had a little time to contemplate things, the big things like health and family. When I sat there in the snow checking to see if my arms and legs still worked, I realized that the rest is just little stuff.

So, I go through each day a little lighter now, thankful I can walk and not sweating as much over all the small stuff.

And, thankful we have a dedicated EMS and health care network here that so selflessly puts the care of their patients first.

I hope their board can find a way to follow suit.


Bruce Andersen

Liberal rhetoric

Dear Editor,

I find myself once again, as I did as a young man in the 1960s, increasingly disturbed at the way liberals use so much rhetoric to bring division to a country with an unparalleled historical record of helping to free oppressed peoples of the world.

But then, as a historian, I also know the disdain these same folks have for history, especially American history.

I have tried to, in this Letters to the Editor spot years ago, educate the liberal mind to various misconceptions based on historical facts. The problem is, liberals tend to hate absolutes, especially historical facts as it relates to their desire to behave badly.

The greatest disgrace of our nation's history in the 20th Century was not that we, under obligation to the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, chose to defend the people of South Vietnam, but that first, we didn't allow our military commanders to prosecute the war in such a manner as to secure victory, and second that we shamed our veterans upon their return.

As a simple result of our failure in Southeast Asia, the peoples in that part of the world do not enjoy the freedoms that our anti-American liberals do in this country, and we find ourselves once again surrounded by people with the same kind of short sightedness which left an isolationist America, unwilling to help defend the innocent in Europe and Asia, finally finding ourselves thrust into two world wars, where by, the time we finally did enter, our enemies' resolve and boldness resulted in catastrophic casualties to Americans and others as well.

Liberals in America are without doubt the most arrogant and smug of any socialist or communist to be found any where else in the world, as they have the freedom to say whatever fantastic fable or farce they want, but hide here as the terrorists do behind our Constitution, and use that same Constitution to either by their words or their actions, carry out their hate of America.

Well, we know now after 9/11 that we can't any longer feel safe that the oceans that separate us from the wicked dictatorial monsters of the east, will continue to keep invaders from killing the innocent here on our own shores. "Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it."

I would say the most arrogant and smug of all liberals are the ones who live here in small towns in the Rocky Mountains and think that what happened to those who died in the "Towers" or among the Kurds in Northern Iraq, has nothing to do with us.

William Bennett

Free course

Dear Editor:

I was gratified with the overwhelming response to my letter of last week. (One letter from you know who).

I regret picking on our lovable local hate mongers as, clearly, they are the unfortunate products of a fifth rate education while I was the fortunate beneficiary of a world class education - six years in the third grade.

To help our less fortunate brethren, I plan to offer an advanced course in letter writing, free of charge.

The bad news is these bozos must furnish their own coloring books and crayons.

Bob Dungan


They agree

Dear Editor:

This is in response to Madeleine Heath's letter reprimanding the Women's Resource Center, the Rape Intervention Team, and Victim's Assistance and Law Enforcement for charging for a self-defense workshop.

Ms. Heath comments that these organizations should offer these programs at no cost, rather than charge for information that may save someone's life. We, at Rape Intervention Team, Archuleta County Victim's Assistance Program and Victim's Assistance and Law Enforcement could not agree more.

Both RIT and ACVAP provide many services, including all of our crisis services to victims of crimes, at no cost. We are able to do so, in part, with financial assistance from the VALE program. VALE does not provide direct services to victims; it is a funding source created by the state of Colorado. Surcharges on fines imposed for felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile offenses, and class 1 and 2 traffic offenses are used to support victims and witness assistance programs and law enforcement agencies.

Rape Intervention Team and Archuleta County Victim's Assistance Program work hard to ensure that valuable services are accessible in our communities. No-cost programs include 24-hour counseling, support and advocacy, on-going therapy, assistance with medical needs and many varied trainings and prevention workshops. Thanks to many contributors, including VALE, the self-defense course that Ms. Heath refers to in her letter was offered at $4 for a three-hour course and $17 for a nine-hour course to any scholarship applicant with prior victimization, regardless of financial need. Up to three-fourths of each workshop was reserved for scholarship participants, and, of course, other arrangements were made for individuals who could not afford these nominal fees.

Like many other nonprofits we strive to make important contributions to our communities on extremely limited budgets. Though we wish it were not the case, the simple reality is that there is not enough funding to offer every program to every participant at no cost all of the time.

Liane Jollon, executive director, Rape Intervention Team

Carmen Hubbs, executive director, Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program

Shari Dyer, VALE administrator, Sixth Judicial District


Dear Editor:

One of your front page lead stories in the March 6 SUN prompted some personal perplexity.

How is it that two of the presently seated county commissioners could easily and instantly come up with over a quarter million dollars to pave taxiways at Stevens Field but cannot produce a dime to assist the county assessor do her job? It was known by these same commissioners that the assessor had been "playing catch up and cleanup" for over two years with limited resources.

Since all three commissioners just recently coughed up a check for $29,000 to the airport so it could acquire some more private land for the lengthy airport expansion, and since even the county commissioners' chairman "doesn't know what to say" in support of the assessor's needs so she might avoid a costly disaster for the county taxpayer.

Suggestion for the county assessor: Simply relate to our "Dream Team" commissioners that you'll pay them back just as soon as the state increases local property taxes. After all, it is inevitable.

Why not?

That's all the airport manager had to do to receive his $29,000 check. He promised that the FAA would reimburse the county down the road - check's in the mail, taxpayer!

Been flimflammed again.

Jim Sawicki

Saving water

Dear Editor:

I realize there is only so much water available for the current and incoming residents of Archuleta County. I also understand that, while PAWS is under considerable pressure to supply more water, the main method of conservation is to reduce the amount of water available to each residence.

I let our lawns die last year as a result. When we moved here we had sufficient water for our ranching needs. Now we do not.

I feel that it is time for both the county and PAWS to take a real stance on the issue of water conservation.

Do we have an incentive plan to replace all 5-gallon flush toilets in the county with new low flow types? Other cities and counties have such programs in place and they pay for the toilet, the change-out as well as installing low flow devices in the rest of the structure.

Why do we need to use over a gallon of water to flush away 8 ounces of urine in the men's room? Waterless urinals have been around for a long time. Installed in government buildings, state parks and military installations, they save millions of gallons of water each year. I have used them and they work as advertised.

Based on just a little homework, I estimated the junior high and high schools use 500,000-plus gallons a year in the men's restrooms. Enough water for 5.2 new homes using 8,000 gallons per month. Even if I am off by 25 percent, countywide the figures for urinal water consumption are staggering. PAWS could and should offer a credit to help defray the minimal cost of replacement.

Septic systems are old-fashioned. They waste water while doing a poor job of sewage treatment. Furthermore, the large amount of solid material they accumulate needs pumping and then treatment by our wastewater facility. New technology has evolved to the point that an inexpensive retrofit reduces solids and discharged effluent is 90-95 percent clean water. This reclaimable water is suitable for gardens and landscaping..

Better still are the completely self-contained, remotely monitored waste treatment systems used in place of a septic tank. These units cost approximately $3,000-4,000 more than a conventional septic system for the average home. They typically require half of the trans-evaporative area of septic systems (or they discharge under lawns and/or gardens). The effluent is EPA approved for stream discharge and is virtually clean water, suitable for almost anything. They are currently in use in other parts of Colorado and may allow building on smaller lots, increasing tax revenue.

I believe our county should take a proactive stance on water conservation by implementing building requirements to include modern technology for water reclamation and the use of waterless products.

I believe that PAWS should take a leadership position and pursue every avenue for conservation (as other water districts have) not just reduced and increased costs.

Doug Sharp

Community News
Senior News

Free movie day and a menu change noted

By Laura Bedard

SUN Columnist

We have been enjoying the snow at the Senior Center, as it is much needed.

Friday we will have our free movie day. "The Four Feathers" is featured.

This is a story of a British soldier who has been branded a coward by his friends and fellow soldiers, until he has the chance to regain his honor and get his girl back.

We have a menu change for March 17: Instead of meatloaf and boiled cabbage for St. Patrick's Day, we will serve braised beef and cabbage.

We had to postpone our talk about "Ancient Humans in Pagosa" until March 17 at 12:30 p.m. Ron Alexander is our local amateur archaeologist who is passionate about finding and preserving artifacts. Come hear his talk and perhaps you may want to volunteer to help out.

The storm also prevented Mike Green from coming March 5 to speak on "Don't be a Victim of Crime, Fraud or Scams of all Kinds." Mike is an attorney from Cortez and has a lot of information to share. He is rescheduled at 12:30 p.m. April 16.

We are set to go to the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio March 18. Transportation is free from the Senior Center, leaving at 1 p.m. Please sign up by March 14 at the Senior Center.

Friday, March 21, is spring solstice. We will celebrate this in a couple of ways; we are asking people to bring a friend to lunch, and create a spring hat. We will have prizes for the best hat, so come to lunch and show off your spring creation. Beginning on St. Patrick's Day we'll have materials for hat creation so, seniors, you have no excuses.

We will also be honoring Muriel Cronkhite for her dedicated service as our nutritionist. Please come and say hi to her and her husband, Paul.

Guests and visitors

Carole Ash, Barb and Ann Conkey, Josephine Fletcher, Biz and Mike Greene, Trudy Knoblauch and Phyllis Haning were lunch guests at the center this week. We were also pleased to see Don and Ilse Hurt at lunch Monday. Paulette and Bill Sohle came in for lunch after a long absence and we got to see Lois and Joe Zeida as well.

Many researchers are finding that the most serious disease for older persons is not cancer or heart disease - it's loneliness. People can actually die of a broken heart. Love is the most important health tonic we have and pets are one of nature's best sources of love.

Many studies have shown that pets are psychologically important to the elderly, as they help stimulate socialization by providing a topic of conversation, and help provide touch and unconditional love to their masters.

A pet can help us cope not only with the loss of a loved one but help us adapt to changing circumstances such as an illness or a change in living arrangements. If you are feeling lonely or depressed, you might consider contacting the Humane Society and find a friend.

Upcoming events:

Friday, March 14: 10 a.m. Qi Gong; 11 a.m. Medicare counseling; 1 p.m. free movie day: "The Four Feathers."

Monday, March 17: 12:30 p.m. Ancient Humans in Pagosa with Ron Alexander; 1 p.m. Bridge for Fun

Tuesday, March 18: 9:30 a.m. yoga; 10:30 a.m. advanced computer class; 1 p.m. trip to Ignacio casino.

Wednesday, March 19: 12:45 p.m. art class; no beginning computer class today.

Veterans Corner

Future cloudy for VA health care

By Andy Fautheree

I have had some very positive reports on the Durango VA health care clinic lately from local veterans.

Several have stopped by or called saying communications with the clinic have vastly improved, both by phone and in person.

This is very reassuring to hear and indeed good news.

As some regular readers of this column have noted recently, veterans were reporting the exact opposite. They weren't able to contact anyone at the clinic by phone, or left messages on the clinic answering machine and never received a return call.

The staff at the clinic assured me recently they are able to return all calls in a timely manner now.

Eligibility changed

As you are also probably aware, eligibility has changed with VA health care. Many veterans who did not get signed up for VA health care before Jan. 17, 2003 may not be eligible under the new guidelines. Until that date, all honorably discharged veterans regardless of their financial means were eligible for VA health care.

After that date, financial means is now a determining factor for eligibility, along with any VA service-connected disability ratings of the veteran.

I have already had to advise some of our local veterans of the bad news they may not be able to get into VA health care now because of these new guidelines. I submitted their applications in hopes we could kind of slip them in the system for one reason or another, perhaps because they were already in the VA health care system somewhere, sometime.

Last week I gave some rule-of -thumb income guidelines to qualify for the new VA health care priority levels. However, offsetting medical expense costs or some other deductions that can reduce the income level below the new Priority 8 thresholds can mitigate those income levels.

But, usually the adherence to the new guidelines is pretty much "unbending" right now. Veterans who were enrolled before Jan. 17 are grandfathered and will not be dropped from the system, regardless off current eligibility requirements.

But I believe this could change, perhaps not too far in the future. Just my intuition perhaps, but my intuition has been pretty much right on for the past couple of years. I predicted this latest change over a year ago, and I was right on the mark, unfortunately.

Now I think the pendulum could swing the other way. A lot of pressure is being brought on VA health care officials to once again allow all veterans to apply for VA health care.

The secretary of veterans' affairs decides the guideline rules on an annual basis. There will be a lot of new veterans soon, back from Gulf War and other active military duty. Many of them will not be eligible for VA health care, much to their surprise, under the current guidelines.

They are going to be very vocal to Congressmen and such when they find this out. I think government officials will ultimately yield to this pressure.

Enroll now

I am going to stick my neck out here and urge all of our veterans who are not already enrolled in VA health care to contact me as soon as possible. We can prepare the VA health care application forms and have them all signed, documented with a copy of a DD214 discharge paper, and ready to submit to VA health care when the change comes about.

I'll set up a special file system to alert me on these applications as soon as I hear about any change in the VA health care eligibility requirements.

Even if you think you make too much money to qualify for VA health care I urge you to contact me so we can make sure we are able to get you into the program as soon as any changes take place.

We've enrolled literally hundreds of Archuleta County veterans in VA health care, and if I have anything to say about it, we will continue to get our veterans enrolled.

For information on these and other veterans' benefits call or stop by the Veterans Service Office located on the lower floor of the Archuleta County Courthouse. The office number is 264-2304, the fax number is 264-5949, and e-mail is The office is open 8 to 4, Monday through Thursday, Friday by appointment. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for registration with the county, application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.

Chamber News

World's silliest parade will

roll out for St. Patrick's Day

By Sally Hameister

If you haven't already done so, you need to register to participate in the world's silliest parade, the Pagosa Springs St. Patrick's Day Parade.

While going through our records, we realized that we had 26 entries in last year's event and, consequently, can no longer refer to it as "the world's smallest parade."

Silly, however, is another thing, and that's our story and we're stickin' to it forever. This extremely green event will take place March 17 beginning at 4 p.m. We will begin lining up behind Sears on 5th Street at 3:17 and, as always, the entry fee is $3.17.

The only requirement for anyone wishing to participate in this parade is the wearin' of the green and a spirit of fun and adventure.

You can also make loads of money: the best float will take home $25, the most green entry, $15 and the most bizarre, $10. We are nothing if not extremely generous with our prize money for this parade. KWUF radio will once again provide the music for us (we ask each entry to bring a boom box so they can tune in) and I'm guessing that St. Patrick's Episcopal Church will lead us onto the highway as they always have in the past.

Please give Doug O'Trowbridge a call at the Chamber, 264-2360, with any questions. This parade is always so much fun, and we contend that you can never have too much of that — please join us.

Fish Fry

Last Friday marked the first of six consecutive fish fries presented by the Knights of Columbus from 5-7 p.m. at the Parish Hall on Lewis Street.

Although I couldn't make it, I'm guessing there was a packed house enjoying this annual tasty event. Please join the Knights of Columbus tomorrow night for what has become a delicious time-honored Pagosa tradition.

Ross tournament

Another Pagosa tradition is on the horizon - the Dirk and Colt Ross Memorial Basketball Tournament coming up April 10-13. This will be the eighth year for this event. It just gets bigger and better every year with proceeds donated to a scholarship fund for young people in Pagosa and Ignacio.

College competition is expected with three divisions: Open, 6 foot and Under and 35 and Over. The fee is $175 per team with a 10-player maximum and double elimination. A $100 non-refundable deposit must by made by April 1 for the first 24 teams to qualify, and all teams will receive discount coupons for food and lodging.

Prizes will be awarded to first, second, third and fourth place teams, an All-Tournament Team, Tournament MVP, Mr. Defense, Mr. Hustle, Slam-Dunk Contest and a Three-Point Shootout. Door prizes will be awarded as well.

For more information, please contact Troy Ross at 264-5265, Cody Ross at 264-4315, Larry Ash at 264-4594 or Jon Forrest at 264-4544.

Food for Friends

Let's help our friends at Curves achieve their goal of collecting 1,200 pounds of food to donate to our local food banks. This last year has been a challenging year economically for a lot of folks, and food banks could use replenishing. It's up to us as a community to see that it happens, so please deliver your non-perishable food items to the Chamber Visitor Center or to Curves located just behind the Hog's Breath on Navajo Trail Drive.

Please call April with questions at 731-0333.

Bird watch

Navajo State Park is offering two free (with a Colorado State Park pass) programs this Saturday for adults and children. From 10 a.m.-1 p.m., a bird watch will be conducted with the hope of seeing wintering eagles and/or summer birds returning from their southern homes. Bring your binoculars and field guides to the Navajo State Park Visitor Center Saturday to join others who love our plumed friends.

The Kids' Corner will commence at 1:30 p.m. to teach the little ones to become better trackers and learn more about the animals by the signs they leave. Please bring your children to the Watchable Wildlife Pavilion on Colo. 151 just two miles north of the park entrance Saturday. You can call 883-2208 to learn more about both of these programs.

Trade workshop

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, 7:30-10 p.m., April 2.

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


The annual 9HealthFair will held April 5 at the Pagosa Springs High School, 8 a.m.-noon. As always, there will be free and optional health screenings, 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

FoPA presentation

"An Evening of Shorts — Revelations" will be presented by the Footlighters March 28-29 to benefit FoPA (Friends of the Performing Arts) and the future performing arts center.

This debut performance will be presented at the Fellowship Hall of the Community United Methodist Church on Lewis Street beginning at 7:30 p.m. both nights.

Advance tickets will be available for $12 at the Chamber of Commerce, WolfTracks and Moonlight Books. Tickets purchased at the door will be $15. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m. and you can enjoy coffee, tea and desserts until the performance begins at 7:30. Don't miss what promises to be a very special evening.

Fire prevention

Rep. Mark Larson and Sen. Jim Isgar will host a special Town Hall meeting April 5 to talk about what we can do to reduce wildfire hazards. This presentation will be held at the Pagosa Springs 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.

Free tours will be conducted April 19 and 26. Chief Warren Grams will conduct a tour April 19 from 10 a.m.-noon called "Defensible Space Projects" showing us how to make our homes safer from fires. The tour will feature examples of successful defensible space treatments done by homeowners. Register to attend by April 17, and meet April 19 at the fire station on North Pagosa Boulevard at 10 a.m.

Bob Frye of the USFS Pagosa Ranger District will lead an April 26 tour from 9 a.m.-noon 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 chainsaw thinning. Some gentle terrain walking will be required. Please register by April 23.

You must RSVP to go on either of these tours at 385-1210 by the designated deadlines. Space is limited so if you cannot make it, please call and cancel.

Tree and shrub seedlings

Deadline for ordering seedling trees and shrubs from the San Juan Conservation District for conservation planting, shelterbelts, reforestation and wildlife habit enhancement is March 31.

To participate, landowners need to own at least two acres of land and need to agree to use the seedlings for conservation purposes only and not landscaping. Seedlings come from Colorado State Forest Service Nursery in Fort Collins, and orders must be placed by March 31.

Landowners with property in Archuleta, southern Hinsdale and southwestern Mineral counties can obtain order forms from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service or CSU Cooperative Extension Service at the Archuleta County Fair Building. Seedlings will be available for pick up one day only, April 16. For more information call 264-5516.


We're definitely in the "not-too-shabby" mode for membership this week with five new members and nine renewals. Makes those Irish eyes smile even brighter.

Don and Moira Howard join us with two new businesses both under the umbrella name of Continental Divide Services, Inc., located three miles west of Creede at 242 West Colo. 149. Half of this business offers vacation home accommodations at motel prices. These are modern two-story A-frames that sleep ten and offer satellite TV or, for the more adventurous souls, primitive cabins on creeks at Rio Grande headwaters.

The second half of Continental Divide Services, Inc. offers Jeep rentals with hundreds of miles of trails available to explore, including guided snowmobile tours. This business offers their services 24 hours a day, and maps are available for those requesting them. The helmets, bibs and boots are provided at no extra charge. To learn more about both sides of Continental Divide Services, Inc., call Don or Moira at (719) 658-2687.

Our third new member this week is Norm Whisman who brings us A-1 Pagosa Communications located at 3576 C.R. 335. A-1 Pagosa Communications offers sales, installation, service and repair of telephone equipment and systems as well as voice/data cabling and wiring for both businesses and residential. Telecommunications consulting is also available to you at A-1 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please give Norm a call at 264-5724 to learn more about A-1 Pagosa Communications.

Dave Proudfit joins us next with Cruises, Inc. located at 8217 South Evanston Avenue in Tulsa, Okla. Since 1982 Cruises, Inc. has been providing expert service to deliver "The Right Cruise at the Right Price" to happy travelers. Cruises, Inc. is also a part of "My Travel," the world's largest cruise retailer. If you are contemplating a cruise, please give Dave a call at (918) 524-1134.

Isabel Webster is our fifth and final new member this week bringing us an existing business with a new name.

Isabel is the proud new owner of The Flying Burrito (formerly Flaco Taco) located at 610 South 8th St. right across the street from La Plata Electric. Now, don't just run down there this minute because Isabel isn't open for business at the moment but promises to let us know when she is.

The Flying Burrito will serve breakfast and lunch with Mexican food available for eat-in, takeout or delivery. She will offer homemade chilies and salsa and daily specials as well as discounts for seniors, students and contractor specials. Watch the column for her opening date so you can go by and wish her well in her new endeavor.

Our renewals this week include both City Markets; Southwest Colorado Mental Health Center, Inc. with offices in Durango and Pagosa; Drew Horn with Rocky Mountain Publishing (Archuleta County Telephone Directory); Rita Simon with the Durango Area Chamber of Commerce; Dee Jackson with the Upper San Juan Health Service District; Doug Schultz with Zoetera Production Company; Mary Jo Coulehan with TLC's: A Bed and Breakfast; and, last but not least, associate member and Diplomat, Ray Pack, and his lovely wife, Sharon. Whew and thanks.

Library News

Return the book, there's fund-raising to do

By Lenore Bright

A fine how do you do I loaned a book to someone and forgot who has it. Definitely a senior moment.

What kind of librarian would do a thing like that? Kind person, if you have my new Colorado Resource Guide, would you please call me?

We are all scrambling to raise money from various Colorado Foundations, and this book is vital to our cause. Speaking of the "cause," we are pleased to announce that we have raised over $45,000 toward our building addition. I am going to Denver this week to defend a grant application that may help us with the project. Keep good thoughts for us. I hope to have good news next week.

Space planning

We think of a library as a depository for books but that is rapidly changing.

The latest information says that by 2007 new cars will be equipped with Mp3 CD players. How many of us know what an Mp3 CD is?

What will happen to tapes, regular CDs, videos, etc.? Will reference material all be "online?" Will all books be paperback? These questions need to be addressed as we start thinking about what we want in our new wing. I know that we want an increase in large print material.

Books on tape are very popular - but what is going to happen to that format? We're trying to stay ahead of the curve. If you have thoughts on this, please share them with us as we do this planning. What areas do you want to see us pursue?


The bookmark fund-raiser is going well. Volunteers are working to get the third one done and ready to sell. It is Virginia Bartlett's.

Such beautiful work by these artists. The bookmarks are for sale at the chamber, the library and Moonlight Books. The bookmarks are limited additions. Carol Fulenwider and Jan Brookshier are the first two artists featured.

Colorado statutes

Just got word that you can access Colorado laws on the Internet. Go to to find them. We will get the printed version when it comes out.

New books

We finally got some money and will be buying new books this week. The ladies are ready to start ordering. Many of you have given them titles to consider. Once the books come, they will have to be processed. Until then, thank you for your patience.


Cathne Holt was recently featured in the school district's newsletter as teacher of the month. Cathne just retired from our library board of trustees after serving for 13 years. Cathne is the elementary school librarian and a devoted teacher as well. The students and teachers are fortunate to have this dedicated person as their friend and librarian. We miss Cathne but know that her good work goes on as she brings the love of reading to all of her small charges.


Thanks for materials from Carolyn Herring, Joan Young, Marilyn Copley, Diane Bower, Gaela Morrison, Methodist Thrift Shop, Marilyn Moorhead, Glenn Bergman, Crystal Mathias and Carol Hakala.

Financial donations: Lee Sterling memorials came from Patsy and Sherman Levin, Harry and Joan Young, Joseph and Loretta Siminski, Diana and Eugene Quadri, Donald and Stevana Erickson. A memorial to Robert Kamrath came from Walter and Carol Hakala.


Business News

Clay Rathjen owns and operates DAK Drilling, water well specialists, now serving Archuleta County.

DAK provides water well drilling, and pump installation and service.

Call now to schedule your water well with DAK. Rathjen can be reached seven days a week at 759-8533, days, and 731-0742 during the evening.



Steve and Connie Prunty wish to announce the marriage of their son, Shane, to Isla Holly.

Shane and Isla were married in Tacoma, Wash. Feb. 21, 2003. Shane is currently serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Dean's List

Gretchen Bergon, daughter of Mark and Peggy Bergon of Pagosa Springs, has been named to the dean's list for the semester at Colorado State University College of Business in Fort Collins.

Gretchen, a 2001 graduate of Pagosa Springs High School, had a 4.0 average for the period.

Three Pagosa Springs students have been named to the fall dean's list at Western State College in Gunnison.

Cited for grade point averages of 3.7 or better were Logan Marlatt, a mathematics major, Weston Marlatt, no major declared, and Gary Warren, an English major.

Katherine M. Martinez, daughter of Sandra Schultz of Pagosa Springs and a junior majoring in sociology at the University of Colorado in Boulder has been named to the College of Arts and Sciences dean's list for the second consecutive fall semester. She also has been accepted to Alpha Kappa Delta Honor Society.



Full Moon Rising

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

About 15 years ago, a scientist from Boulder tested a theory. On a dark summer night on an arrow-shaped ridge high above the valley floor in Pagosa Country Dr. J. McKim Melville and several graduate students waited for a moonrise.

If his theory was correct, twin spires, Chimney Rock and Companion Rock would form a frame for the white glow of the moon. A frame that could only be seen from this one location. A frame that might explain why over 1,000 years ago people built a large structure on this promontory so far above their homes and crops.

At 2:30 a.m., it happened. A crescent moon rose between the rocks. It was captured in just one time-lapse photo and then, when the sun came up, disappeared.

That was in 1988. In another year and a half, the cycle will begin again and the moon will rise between the spires of Chimney Rock, an archaeological area located 15 miles west and three miles south of Pagosa Springs. When it does, it will provide a possible link to the past and a possible answer to the questions surrounding the Great House on top of the ridge.

According to information from the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area Tour Guide's Handbook, construction of the Great House, divided into north and south sides with eight sets of five rooms each on the north and two kivas with several storage rooms on the south, could have started in AD 1076. This date is based on limited tree-ring data collected at the site. It's possible a second phase of construction happened between AD 1093-94.

It was constructed in a Chacoan style with straight walls, square corners, chinking between the wall rocks, pecked rock faces and doorways. However, Chacoan pottery, household goods and funerary materials are notably lacking.

But why go to all the trouble? Every stone, timber, chinking rock, and materials for mortar and plaster had to be hauled up 1,000 feet along a narrow ridge trail.

Were the Ancestral Puebloans of Chimney Rock overseen by Chacoan masons? Did people at Chimney Rock see the Chacoan work on their travels and copy it? Or did the Chacoan people join others at the high mesa to organize an outlier, increase the flow of resources, protect the frontier or set a calendar?

It's this last guess that's tied into the lunar cycle. If the dates of AD 1076 and AD 1093-94 are correct, construction of the Great House would fall within the regular cycle of the major northern standstill of the moon, the time once every 18.61 years when the moon rises between the rocks.

According to an article covering the northern standstill at Chimney Rock by Glen Raby, a Pagosa Ranger District geologist, the moon not only waxes and wanes, making the basis for the current monthly calendar, but it also moves north and south along the horizon at a predictable, if complicated, track. This cycle lasts 18.61 years. Each end of the cycle is called a standstill.

It is during the northern standstill, on the night of the winter solstice, when a full moon will rise, perfectly framed between Chimney Rock's stone pillars. It's been calculated and surveyed. Global Positioning Satellite measurements confirm it will occur, but in only one spot. Seeing the moon rise, "captured" in a way between the rocks, can only be viewed from the Great House. Move 20 feet one way or the other and the picture's ruined, Raby said.

Starting with the winter solstice in December 2004, the moon will rise between the rocks in different phases, from full moon to new moon and back, a couple times each month for three or four years.

"The cycle itself is very complicated," Raby said. Sometimes, the moonrise will happen between the pillars shortly after sunset. Sometimes it will appear in the early morning hours. Other days it might actually be visible in the daylight.

"We'll have options and opportunities for just about everybody," he said. They're even considering installing remote cameras on top of the ridge so that people can watch the moonrise at the visitor's center down below.

Preparations for the event are already beginning even though the first moonrise between the rocks won't happen for a year and a half. Raby will give a presentation on the 2004 lunar standstill at the San Juan Mountain Association meeting March 20 at 7 p.m. in Parish Hall on Lewis Street.

"We just want to give people a heads-up and begin some community planning," Raby said. "We want people to start thinking about volunteering."

People will be needed to handle special programming for the lunar events in addition to regular tours.

Chimney Rock Archeological Area is open, seven days a week, from May to September. Four seasonal employees and 60 rotating volunteers guide visitors through the site. Tour guides serve almost 11,000 visitors annually, on four two-hour walking tours each day. Another 4,000 visitors are greeted at the visitor's center. Since opening in 1988, almost 100,000 people have been served through San Juan Mountain Association programs.

The Pagosa Chapter of the San Juan Mountain Association, a nonprofit partner with the U.S. Forest Service, operates the Chimney Rock interpretive program and will plan additional programming around the lunar events. That programming, Raby said, will depend heavily on the numbers of volunteers that can be recruited.

Unlike the interpretive guides who offer two-hour tours seven days a week during the site's open months from May-September, guides for the lunar events would only be on-call two or three days or nights a month.

A similar presentation in January in Durango garnered a crowd of 100-120 people.

Pagosa's Past

Government seeks ultimate Ute solution

By John Motter

Pagosa Country and much of the West was in turmoil as the 1860s, the decade including the Civil War, ended.

Large numbers of Indians had called the area home for longer than the oldest grandfathers could remember. Americans were already settled in the lush valleys of the Pacific Coast states. To reach California and Oregon Territory, they crossed the lands of the Indians, including the Southern Utes who lived in Pagosa Country. Conflict between the contrasting cultures was inevitable.

Compounding the problem, rich gold and other ore strikes were found throughout the West, including the San Juan Mountains. Anglos poured into Indian country. The Indians fought back. Treaties were made and broken. As always, the U.S. government looked for the ultimate solution.

A new Ute treaty was signed Nov. 6, 1868, after officials representing the U.S. met with the main headmen of the Moache, Weeminuche and Capote bands of Southern Utes as well as representatives of the Northern Ute bands. The Utes lost another third of their land base.

Two Ute reservations were established, one on the White River in northern Colorado for the Northern Utes, one on Los Pinos Creek near Cochetopa Pass. The government plan was to turn the Utes into English-speaking, self-sufficient farmers.

Again, the attempt to "civilize" the Utes failed. The Southern Utes refused to leave New Mexico and the government lacked the manpower to force them. Citizens brought increasing pressure on the government to do something. Even though the treaties of 1864 and 1868 prohibited nonauthorized people from trespassing on Ute lands, miners poured into the mountains, including the San Juans.

In their turn, the Indians demanded that the government keep the miners out. What was the government to do? The government did not have the will to stop the miners. Taking more Ute land seemed to be the only answer.

Government Indian policy changed from the use of treaties to the use of agreements. The Bruno Agreement, signed in 1874, forced the Utes to cede an area of land located in the heart of the 1868 boundaries. The new, U-shaped boundaries, cut Ute lands in half.

Miners and supporting industries poured into the San Juans, upsetting the Utes still more. They thought they had ceded only the locations high in the mountains where the mines were. The government also neglected to pay annuities promised with the Brunot Agreement. Some of the Brunot negotiating was conducted in Pagosa Springs.

By 1876 , it was apparent to the government that the treaty of 1868 and the agreement of 1874 were not working. The Southern Utes refused to leave New Mexico and live at the Los Pinos Agency. New Mexico residents complained about the Ute presence and demanded that they be moved.

During the period between 1876 and 1879, the government succeeded in removing the Utes from New Mexico, uniting the three southern bands in a common area, and defining land in southern Colorado as the Southern Ute area. The process was not smooth, nor did it completely solve the Ute problem.

One of the proposed solutions led to the establishment of Fort Lewis in Pagosa Springs, an act which hastened the settlement of Pagosa Country.

The problems associated with the Utes in northern new Mexico were reported by the agents in 1875. Cimarron agent Alexander G. Irvine said about 350 Moache Utes belonging on the Los Pinos Reservation moved back and forth between Cimarron and Los Pinos. The movement of these Utes between the two locations caused a great deal of fear among the Anglo and Mexican settlers.

Irvine wrote:

"The Utes are much more trouble (than the Jicarilla Apaches who were also located at this agency), being very independent, and considering themselves masters of the whole county and all that are in it; act as though everyone they come in contact with must of surety be their servant

"The country is fast settling up, and the Indians and settlers are crowding each other; the Indians claiming the whole country and regarding the settlers as infringing on their rights in having herds of cattle eat up their pastures and driving all the game from this country, although the Indians are in nowise particular where they allow their horses to run or graze. A field of grain suits them very well, and there not being any fences in this country, the damage is often considerable; and aside from this, they are in the habit of levying contributions upon the settler by the way of appropriating to their own use corn, sheep and cattle, and much to the loss and annoyance of the poor settlers; and if I correct them, they tell me it is their right to do so."

More next week on the making of the Ute Reservation, including the reservation proposed for location on the headwaters of the San Juan, Piedra, Blanco and Navajo rivers in what is now Archuleta County.



First things first

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is the First Amendment to our U.S. Constitution. With the remaining amendments, it forms the foundation of what is a great, and unusual system of government and way of life. It is meaningful, today, to tout these fundamental rights prescribed by the nation's founders.

With the prospect of war looming, with an economy that refuses to recuperate fully, with budget dilemmas plaguing our state government, the value of the First Amendment is profound.

These are times in which as many voices as possible must join a dialogue, times when these most precious of rights must be exercised, tolerated, understood.

The amendment expresses several of the ideas key to a great society, to a nation set apart from many others not by wealth, not by military power, not by resources and industry, but by its rights.

Close attention to the First Amendment makes several things clear: First, our freedom to worship as we choose, absent governmental dictate or control is ensured; if there is any time we've needed the solace of our spiritual and religious beliefs and the guarantee we can practice them openly, this is it.

Second, our right to a free press is established. Despite the travesty of scripted press conferences and biased news sources, our free press continues to be our conduit to a clearer, more complete understanding of ourselves, our situation and our options.

Third, our right to peacefully assemble and petition the government indicates our founders understood the need to secure the coexistence of conflicting points of view.

Our freedom of speech is critical; silence and secrecy are the seeds of our undoing. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan summed it up in 1964 when he wrote that "debate on public issues (must be) uninhibited, robust, and wide-open."

Despite many attempts over many years to subdue this right, the First Amendment remains in place, oft injured but still profound.

There are those among us who, often for troubling personal reasons, seek to silence those who express ideas - religious, political, cultural - other than their own. They cannot bear the pressure of opposition and, rather than become more thoughtful, more able to accept, analyze and counter contrary opinions, they work to stifle the expression.

We hear chest-beaters on both sides of the political spectrum urge the gagging of their opponents. We find the falsely pious attempting to obliterate the record of other beliefs, we hear voices calling for the obliteration of all religious dialogue in public places.

We cannot succumb to these extremists. We cannot surrender the right to expression that invigorates our culture, that propels change, that allows each who will listen to contemplate the ideas of others and examine their own.

There is no conceivable situation in which we should allow our First Amendment rights to be taken from us. We must, instead, demand more dialogue, more argument, more discussion. In doing so, we will stimulate more change, more improvement, more freedom.

This is what we are about. It is what we are about at this newspaper. It is what we are about in this community, this state and this nation.

These are values we must protect and strengthen, especially now, and values we must seek to export as far and wide as we can.

Karl Isberg


Pacing Pagosa

Teen driving parents' big worry

By Richard Walter


Parents are worried about their kids driving safely.

More worried about that, in fact, than about drug and alcohol abuse or pregnancy or criminal activity.

That's the upshot of a national survey conducted by Chrysler Group division of Daimler Chrysler and reported in the national media last week.

The nationwide survey indicated parents are aware their children are driving in high risk situations - such as at night or with groups of other teens in the car - and would be willing to support guidelines to limit those situations.

Well, OK. We've all seen indications of teens gambling with their lives and those of others with nighttime driving habits that smack of lack of concern for other motorists - or pedestrians, for that matter. Just the night before this study was released, I witnessed teens in pickups drag racing from the east bridge toward downtown.

We need to control these actions.

But the balance of the survey's conclusions are perhaps more frightening to those of us who must cover the lives and actions of those teenagers as a matter of routine.

For example, while 39 percent of parents surveyed said teen driving safety is the top worry about their children, only 31 percent were concerned about drug abuse and only 17 percent cited alcohol abuse as a possible problem.

Twenty-five percent of the parents worried most about auto crashes while only 13 percent named pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases as a concern and just 11 percent expressed fear their children would become involved in violent crime.

Fifty-nine percent of the parents said driving-related issues are their number one concern while 68 percent correctly identified car crashes as the leading cause of death among American teen-agers.

Of these same parents, 79 percent allow their children to drive unsupervised between 9 p.m. and midnight despite National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics showing more than half of teen crashes happen in those hours. Nineteen percent of the parents admitted their teens drive unsupervised between midnight and 6 a.m.

While 67 percent of the parents said they allow their teens to drive with more than one other teen as a passenger, national statistics indicate 63 percent of teen deaths in accidents occur when there are multiple teens in the vehicle.

Seventy percent of the parents said their teens listen to "loud music" while driving and 36 percent said their children talk on cell phones while driving.

Both of those habits can be readily recognized as common traits of Pagosa area teen drivers. Unfortunately, they most likely picked up those habits from the parents. Try watching a line of traffic through downtown any time of day.

More likely than not, the adult driver will be on a cell phone and/or holding a cup of coffee or other libation while driving.

We've seen adults holding a cell phone with a pet dog in their lap while attempting to drive, so teens having other teens in the car shouldn't be of such great concern.

But having parents who know what is happening, admit it, and ignore it, is troubling.


90 years ago

Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era files of March 14, 1913

Fred Harman and Charlie Dunagan, two of Pagosa's hustling businessmen, have formed a partnership to conduct a real estate business. They are not only experienced businessmen, but they are practical farmers as well and their offerings will be honest values.

After a fight extending over a period of five years, the saloons of Pagosa have been closed, although the wets believe this condition will be only temporary. The closing order came from the court of appeals through a remittitur issued by District Court Clerk Smith and became effective at once. The saloons promptly closed when notified that the order was to be issued and will remain closed until the verdict is reversed at the polls.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of March 16, 1928

L.J. Goodman, wife and son returned home Sunday from an extended motor trip on business and pleasure. They first went to California and then to St. Louis and New York, where they visited with relatives and completed their annual spring buying for the Goodman store in Pagosa Springs. Altogether, they traveled a total of 6,000 by auto.

Owing to the establishment of C.O.D., special delivery, special handling and insured Parcel Post, considerable confusion has arisen in the post offices in the proper disposition of said mail matter. The department now requests that the mailers place the name and address of the addressee on but one side of the parcel in order that it will receive its proper handling.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of March 13, 1953

Springlike is the word for the weather the past week with warm days and nights. The snow of the week before has practically disappeared and there is no scarcity of mud.

The March 1st reading of the snow pack on Wolf Creek and the Upper San Juan drainage showed that the Upper San Juan had a reading of 58.9 inches of snow as compared with 53.2 the first of February. The March first reading in 1952 was 127.8 inches of snow. Since the readings were taken on March first an additional thirty inches of snow has fallen on the pass. The moisture content is still slightly below the fourteen year average and considerably below that of the record 1952 contents.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of March 9, 1978

There is no shortage of candidates for the town election next month. There are two candidates for the job of mayor and 10 candidates for three positions as town trustee. The election will be held April 4 and those elected will serve for a term of four years.

The town board allowed a building code variance, decided to have unloading zones and to bar double parking, discussed pornography, streets, water, and general problems and matters at its regular board meeting.

There is a legal notice in this issue of The SUN advising local residents that a proposal has been made to drill a deep test geothermal well and asking for any objections to the well.