July 17, 2003 
Front Page

Privatization bid rejected;

Fisher clinic reform vowed

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

The Upper San Juan Health Service District Board has rejected a proposal for privatization of the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center.

Five members of the board, including one member appointed earlier the same night, voted Tuesday to move ahead with reorganizing the clinic and maintaining the management oversight currently in place.

Two board members, Ken Morrison and Dr. Dick Blide, did not vote in favor of the motion. No nay vote was called for once the ayes were counted, so it was unclear how they would have voted.

Statements regarding the question of the future of the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center were made both before and after the board's action.

Early in the meeting, board member Wayne Wilson said after several discussions will all sides, the budget committee recommended the board reject the privatization proposal.

"In our opinion, the privatization proposal is just too expensive for the district," he said.

A plan for privatizing the clinic was presented to the district board in June by Dr. Mark Wienpahl, Nurse Practitioner Susan Kuhns, Dr. Bob Brown and community member J.R. Ford.

That plan involved the district contracting with Wienpahl - the prospective owner of the private practice - and doctors at the other local private practice - Pagosa Family Medicine - for services to include a 24/7 on-call component, open access and oversight of urgent care.

In return, Wienpahl's group, under the name Pagosa Health and Wellness, would pay rent to continue to use the clinic building for at least the next five years and manage both the private practice and urgent care.

According to financial documents provided to the board by district accountant John Farnsworth at a workshop July 14, the district could be in the hole as early as January 2004 under the privatization plan.

The other option, to go ahead and reorganize the clinic under the district umbrella with one physician and two physician assistants as presented by consultant Bob Bohlmann, was also costly. However, because revenues from clinic fees would still flow into the district's coffers, there remained the possibility it could eventually turn a profit - projected by Farnsworth to be possible in February 2004.

Historically, the clinic has not turned a profit. In 2002, according to the audit, it did, just barely if the cost of the bond on the building was not included.

The privatization plan, Wilson said, would cost the district taxpayers an estimated $25,000 a month as the leases exist in the plan presented to the board - or $300,000 at year - with no way to recoup the majority of the money except to go back to the taxpayers.

Besides that, he said, responding to a query from board member Morrison, in the past, the district board had attempted contractual relationships with these same doctors. Those failed. The money and history, Wilson said, combined to lead to his own decision to reject the privatization proposal.

Both he and Patty Tillerson said they had a financial obligation to the taxpayers to consider the costs involved.

Blide and several others said much more needed to be considered.

"I think you're going to end up with inadequate night coverage and inadequate weekend coverage and sometime in the future the board will have to answer to that," he said. Blide called the plan to reorganize the clinic "risky, unknown and piecemeal."

That plan, he said, includes using locum doctors for weekend on-call duty and a barebones staff otherwise.

"What will the district do if the locums don't work out?" he asked. On the other hand, the privatization plan provided a vehicle to bring all the local doctors together to work with patients they know as well as provide 24/7 on-call emergency services.

Dr. Jim Knoll, chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee, made two statements during the meeting. The first was on behalf of the committee - which includes all the local doctors.

"Your second consultant may be correct in that one could set up a clinic that takes care of a few patients cheaper than setting up a comprehensive healthcare system that integrates all patient care. However, the board needs to decide which they think the citizens of the district really want - a repeat of the past or a new integrated system."

Also, he said, the board must consider that by rejecting the privatization plan, they also lose the support of the remaining local doctors, take a great risk in a plan that has one physician backed up by locums, take a track that could have the clinic flooded with indigent and Medicaid patients and start on a path completely opposed to the six point plan approved in concept a few months earlier.

Following the board's vote, Knoll resigned as chairman of the medical advisory committee, which he said would cease to exist anyway.

"When I first became involved, this board was immobilized, there was a siege mentality present, two members had recently resigned and others on the board were talking about resigning, the Mary Fisher Clinic staff had submitted their resignations, the private practice clinic would not talk to your district manager, EMS was split with some wanting to be placed under the fire department, there was a mob mentality at our meetings, etc."

After meetings with 200 people, he said he came up with a plan that would correct the problems and involve all of the local doctors. That plan was adopted in concept and included privatization of the clinic services. The plan for privatization was organized by Ford and presented by Wienpahl.

"However, as soon as the crisis quieted, some members of the board immediately set about undoing the six point plan and trying to reconstruct the past which had proven to be outdated and nonfunctional. Basically the board has chosen to: reconstruct a failed public clinic, not consider alternatives for the direction of EMS, destroy the fragile communication and cooperation with the local family doctors, in a subtle manner suppress open public and medical discussion before votes were taken - your own committee chairs have to chase you down."

His comments were followed by several others from audience members also concerned with the board's vote.

Bobra Schaeper said she reluctantly became involved during this health care crisis on behalf of others who, for medical reasons, could not take on the stress.

"I feel my life has been threatened, I feel my health has been threatened, I feel the general welfare of the community has been threatened," she said. "I will personally hold the five board members who voted for this responsible for any negative impact to me or my family as a result of this decision."

Board chairman Charles Hawkins did extend an invitation to Wienpahl to continue to work at a reorganized Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center. Wienpahl thanked Hawkins. He is also considering opening his own private practice elsewhere in town.

As of Wednesday morning, District Manager Dee Jackson said with the exception of Wienpahl, who will continue to see patients in the transition, the remainder of the resignations submitted by clinic staff in April have been accepted effective immediately.

Wienpahl said in a phone conversation Wednesday he intends to continue seeing "established clinic patients" with urgent problems, "for an unspecified period of time."

Those employees with resignations in place did not show up Wednesday anyway, said Jackson.

Still, using staff hired since the resignations, Wienpahl and locums if necessary, plans are to keep the clinic open during transition.


EMS operations temporarily

halted by district

By Tess Noel Baker

and Karl Isberg

Staff Writers

Archuleta County was without ambulance service Wednesday from some time in the morning to approximately 4 p.m.

Dr. Bob Brown, physician advisor for Emergency Medical Services terminated his employment with the district Tuesday night, following a board decision to rebuild the current clinic instead of contracting with a private family practice to include local doctors, and an incident at the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center afterward.

As a result, officials of the Upper San Juan Health Service District contacted the Colorado Department of Health and Environment and, said district board chairman Charles Hawkins, on confirmation of state licensure standards, voluntarily suspended ambulance service until the situation could be resolved with appointment of a new physician advisor.

At 2:40 p.m. a communication from the Archuleta County Commissioners' office indicated the commissioners had suspended the district's license to provide ambulance service in the county.

Under Colorado state law, the county commissioners license the ambulances. Having a physician advisor is one of the standards for licensure required under state statute.

"They (the hospital district) provide us with a roster of EMTs and the physician advisor," County Commissioner Mamie Lynch said. "All of that has to be current for us to license them every year." The district renewed the license June 17.

Without a physician advisor, the service becomes a potential liability for the county. Based on that reality, Lynch said, the county administrator sent the letter to the district.

According to the letter, "upon written notification from the district to the county of the appointment of a replacement physician advisor, the commissioners will consider the withdrawal of this suspension."

The consideration now seems a moot point.

Hawkins said late Wednesday afternoon the district found a new physician advisor, Dr. Dianne Fury, of Cortez, and, "are in compliance. We have an EMS advisor in Dianne Fury. We just hung up on a call to the state. All we have to do is fax the state the paperwork, and we are in compliance."

Contacted Wednesday, Fury confirmed her appointment and said she would meet with the district's head paramedic today.

A special commissioners meeting to discuss ambulance licenses was set for today at 3:30 p.m. in the Board of County Commissioners meeting room in the county courthouse.

Commissioner Bill Downey said the meeting may not be necessary if the ambulance service secured a physician advisor Wednesday.

Hawkins agreed the meeting was no longer necessary after securing Fury's services. "I'm calling the commissioners, giving them proof of our compliance and telling them there is no need for the meeting. We will run ambulance calls tonight."


Aspen Springs water talks draw

huge crowd; more studies ahead

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Aspen Springs Metro District has formed an ad hoc committee to further investigate the possibility of installing a central water system and whether or not the issue should be put to a vote in this year's general election.

Following Tuesday night's question and answer session, which was held outside the district metro building and attended by roughly 150 people, eight residents of the subdivision volunteered to assist with the information-gathering process.

Though more member s may be added to the group, at press time the committee list consisted of at least one resident from all subdivision units except Unit I, and included the following names:

- Unit II, Heather Hunts and Rebecca Neel

- Unit III, Robert Garcia and Thomas Ferrell

- Unit IV, Bernie Schuchart and Jim Neuleib

- Unit V, Jeff Blackwell

- Unit VI, Rhonda Zaday

Pat Ullrich, district president, told the crowd if a decision is reached to go forward with the concept this year, the subsequent bond issue to be decided in November could carry a price tag of at least $18 million.

"But the purpose of this meeting is to get some ideas," said Ullrich, "Nobody is telling you what to do."

In the event of a ballot question, persons owning property in Aspen Springs who are registered to vote in the state of Colorado would be eligible to participate, and the Archuleta County Clerk's office would oversee the process.

According to Ullrich, Aspen Springs has roughly 700 registered voters, which means unless the remainder of the subdivision's residents/property owners register to vote before the Oct. 6 deadline, many would not have a say in the matter.

However, those not eligible to vote would still be required to come up with the corresponding "payback" fees if a bond issue were passed.

Ullrich indicated those fees, if based on current interest rates and an $18 million bond, would amount to around $500 per year/per lot for a duration of 20 years.

That notion was unpopular with many who attended the meeting, but "All I'm doing is telling you what the law is," said Ullrich. "I'm not saying it's right or wrong ... we can't change that."

But less-expensive alternatives to a massive bond exist, said Ullrich. For instance, a smaller bond amount or incremental bond could be pursued. If such a bond passed and future discoveries reveal there is not enough water to serve the entire subdivision, the project will be canceled and the district would "be out a few bucks" but not millions.

Ullrich also asserted that the bond possibility remains on the distant horizon, because if initial water quality tests proved the project unfeasible, things would come to a halt immediately.

At Ullrich's revelation that cost estimates to drill two 600- to 700-foot test wells total about $100,000, several attendees volunteered their own wells for testing. That alternative, which would prevent the district from paying large sums of money up front, is currently being investigated.

The district has been weighing the possibility of a central water system for the past three years, and has all but abandoned alternative supplies from outside the district since an extension of service request was turned down earlier this year by the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District.

About two years ago, the district received a $10,000 grant from the state to conduct a preliminary feasibility study for a central system.

With those funds, the district hired Durango-based Harris Engineering, and Tim Decker, a hydrologist from Montrose, to locate a potential water source.

According to Steve Harris, of Harris Engineering, while an aquifer exists beneath the subdivision, it consists of "rock with water in it," and may not provide quantities sufficient to sustain a large central system.

"As we stand here today, you don't have a water source for this system," explained Harris, indicating it is not known how much water and what qualities are present in the underlying layer of Dakota sandstone.

Typically, said Harris, a source that will produce roughly 800 gallons per minute during the summer and about half that in the winter is necessary for the size of system that would be required to serve Aspen Springs.

In addition, Harris indicated a water supply that will endure for 100 years is a necessary finding in such a scenario, and told those in attendance his personal opinion is such a source is unlikely in this region.

That opinion shouldn't close the curtain on the project, said Harris, since the first steps in the process will be to verify how much water is in existing wells, test new wells, and go from there.

The big question, Harris told residents, is, "As you look into the future, do you feel there will be a need for a central water system?"

If the answer is "yes," said Harris, the time for action is now since such projects always become more expensive from year to year.

"Projects of this type are measured in decades," said Harris, "Realistically, if you started today ... it could be 15 years before you get a system in."

The central-system proposal was met with mixed reviews throughout the session, and one exchange between residents near meeting's end seemed to summarize the overall sentiments expressed during the evening.

"How cost effective do we think such a system will be? Can we afford to do it?" was the question posed from a member of the crowd.

From another member came the response, "If the water shortage continues, and PAWS shuts us off altogether, can we afford not to?"


At least 3 fires burning in region

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Lightning strikes resulting from a wave of dry thunderstorms passing through southwestern Colorado sparked several fires Tuesday on San Juan National Forest and Bureau of Indian Affairs lands near Pagosa Springs.

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, at least two fires were burning within the Pagosa Ranger District, according to Pam Wilson, fire information office for the San Juan Public Lands office in Durango.

"We know there is a small fire burning south of Wolf Creek Pass," said Wilson. Dubbed the "Piano Fire," Wilson said it "has remained relatively quiet compared to others in the region."

Wilson indicated a crew of 10 Forest Service firefighters had been assigned to the one-acre burn, which continued to smolder near the Treasure Mountain Trail early Wednesday afternoon.

Another blaze, the "Devil Creek Fire," was estimated at around five acres at 1 p.m. Wednesday and was burning west of town on the north side of U.S. 160 near Devil Creek.

"Helicopters will be dropping water on that fire and Forest Service crews will be working to contain it (Wednesday afternoon)," said Wilson.

Wilson indicated numerous fires were also burning at several locations on BIA land south of Chimney Rock Archaeological Area late Wednesday.

Wilson said the largest, a blaze named the "Bolt Fire," started around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in dense stands of ponderosa pine and oak brush.

It was battled into the evening by Forest Service air and ground crews who were supported by two tankers, a brush truck and several personnel from the Pagosa Fire Protection District.

Aerial support was expected to continue throughout the day Wednesday, said Wilson, and a Type III firefighting team was also en route to help fight the blaze, which had grown to approximately 200 acres but threatened no structures as of 1:30 p.m.

While late-afternoon rain Tuesday and Wednesday may have bolstered firefighting efforts at some locations, the threat of new fires spawned by additional lightning strikes is a lingering possibility.

"The southwest quarter of Colorado received 1,459 lightning strikes, of which 76 were 'positive' hits," said Wilson, "Meaning they started a fire."

However, "Many smaller fires were actually contained and controlled (Tuesday) night as crews moved from fire to fire," continued Wilson. "Personnel from oil and gas companies were also instrumental in putting out the many fires that cropped up on Southern Ute lands."

Since more lightning is predicted through the weekend, Wilson said the Forest Service will take appropriate steps to monitor the situation.

"Reconnaissance flights will continue to assess the current fires and look for any additional starts."



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Slim chance for rain, more heat in forecast

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Dark clouds and strong wind gusts rolled through Pagosa Country during the past week, tearing trees and flowers from downtown parks and lawns while scattering debris along several area roadways.

Also part of the dry storms were lightning strikes, which sparked several fires in the region and had federal and local crews scrambling to cope with the pending danger.

While some of the winds were accompanied by brief periods of light rain, forecasters are maintaining that none of the scant precipitation can be attributed to the arrival of monsoon season.

"We're doing a rain dance, but we aren't seeing any positive indications that the monsoon is upon us," said Joe Ramey, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

"The standard answer we've been giving out this week is, 'If you want to know what the weather report predicts for the next seven days, read last week's report over again,'" added Ramey.

"In other words," said Ramey, "the monsoon is still probably five to 10 days out, and we can't nail down a specific date, so look for more dry conditions with above average temperatures."

Ramey explained the lone difference included in this week's scenario is the possibility of thunderstorms resulting from a slight surge in moisture associated with Hurricane Claudette's trek inland.

According to Ramey, today's forecast calls for partly-cloudy skies, highs in the low to mid-90s and a 30-percent chance for rain. Lows should dip into the 40s.

Friday and Saturday call for mostly-cloudy skies, highs in the mid-80s to mid-90s, lows in the upper 40s and a slim chance for scattered rain showers.

A 30-percent chance for rain is included in the forecasts for Sunday and Monday, while highs should top out in the upper 80s. Lows are expected to fall into the 40s.

Partly-cloudy skies are predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday, and highs are predicted to range in the upper 80s to low 90s. The chance for an afternoon thunderstorm is included in each day's forecast.

The average high temperature recorded last week at Stevens Field was 90 degrees. The average low for the week was 49. Precipitation totals for the week are listed as "trace."

The Pagosa Ranger District rates the current regional fire danger as "very high." Fire restrictions across lower elevation zones are currently in place. Conditions are subject to change rapidly this time of year; for updates and more information, call the district office at 264-2268.

The National Allergy Bureau rates area pollen counts as "moderate" and lists grass and ragweed as the current dominant pollens.

San Juan River flow is falling and ranged between approximately 30-70 cubic feet per second last week. The river's historic median flow for the week of July 17 is roughly 240 cubic feet per second.


Sports Page

Parks & Rec

Summer programs are winding down

By Joe Lister Jr.

SUN Columnist

By Joe Lister Jr.

SUN Columnist

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board met Wednesday with Wally Piccone, Great Outdoors Colorado recreation program manager. GOCO is the managing trust for lottery funding in the state of Colorado.

Piccone had been scheduled to do two area workshops, one in Del Norte Wednesday, and one in Telluride today. We invited him here for a question/answer workshop concerning lottery funded programs. We were lucky to get this last-minute workshop for our employees and our council.

We planned to ask questions on land acquisitions, developing future parks, and participation with other government agencies, such as the school district.

I will report next week on the outcome of this meeting.

Park maintenance

July is our busiest month with the Park to Park Arts Festival, the annual carnival, youth camps, weddings, Pet Pride Day, and everyday picnicking families.

We have a tough job ahead of us to get the park ready for the next group activity.

Jim Miller and crew are working hard to get the turf ready for fall soccer leagues.

Rockies Skills Challenge

Local qualifiers will travel to Pueblo to test their skills against other winners in the regional challenge to be held at Runyon Field July 27. We would like to thank all young athletes who attended our challenge and wish the best of luck to our local winners.

Youth baseball

There are many private club teams in action around Pagosa with regional tournaments under way. We would like to wish all local teams good luck in the final half of their season.

Parks and recreation programs are winding down with the athletes showing much improvement over the last seven weeks of practice and games.

Thank you to all sponsors for your financial backing for our local programs. We facilitate the young athletes who want to upgrade their skills, learn the game of baseball, and instill participation, equal playing time, and enjoy America's pastime.

Thank you all volunteer coaches for your time spent with the kids, and your devotion to the kids of Pagosa Springs.

Chris Corcoran and Sue Jones did a wonderful job in setting up this year's program.


The following directors' report was added to our July 16 advisory council meeting.

EDAW, the landscape architect company hired by the town, should have a final plat of the layout for the 16 acre sports complex being planned for south Pagosa. The board hopefully approved the plan so we can proceed to the town board by the August meeting. We hope to get into the 2003 GOCO applications deadline from August to early September.

U-Can-Afford-Landscaping will be in the river putting the final touches on the raw water feed system this week. Hopefully we can be operational by mid-August with water from the San Juan River used on the athletic fields at the high school.

Hershey grant

Teresa Hershey, local ranch owner, has informed the Town of Pagosa Springs and the local school district of an award to help jumpstart the National Hershey Track Meet.

The check is on its way, and will be approximately $3,000. We hope to receive word on a National Parks and Recreation Grant, to also help jumpstart other track and field events in Pagosa Springs.

Rotary International's local chapter has given the town a grant to upgrade some of the baseball equipment this year. We bought safety equipment such as batters' helmets, catchers' gear, and replaced some outdated bats illegal in today's game. Thank you Rotary for your help, this is the second year in a row that Rotary has stepped up and made our program better and safer.

We are looking into ways to make South Pagosa Park a more user-friendly venue. Right now the use is unbelievable, but times have changed and we need to address the user groups for the next few years. A fund-raiser is in the works to upgrade the park.

The Fourth of July fireworks were a big hit. Next year's event is tentatively set to be at the Sports Complex. We hope to get some fund-raising ideas from the public so please call Joe Lister Jr. at 264-4151, Ext. 231.


PSHS cheerleaders start season Aug. 11

By Richard Walter

Staff writer

Are you interested in being a cheerleader for Pagosa Springs High School sports?

Start getting in shape right now.

Practice for prospective members of the 2003-04 squad will begin 3:45 p.m. Aug. 11 and then continue at the same time on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

All high school students are eligible to try out. They must, however, present parental permission slips and a physician's examination certification.

Coach Renee Davis said the practice sessions will help determine the finalists for the squad.

Team members will be determined by the opening day of school and the squad will make its first appearance at the home-opener football game Aug. 29 against Alamosa.

She said a number of new routines will be incorporated into the cheerleading program this year.


Pirate kickers open training Aug. 11 with key slots to fill

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

With hopes high and a tough opening weekend lined up, Pagosa Springs High School boys soccer will begin practice Aug. 11.

Coach Lindsey Kurt-Mason will field a team deep in offensive experience, but missing several key performers from the playoff squad a year ago.

Returning are striker Kyle Sanders, the state's leading scorer in any classification, right winger Kevin Muirhead, an 11-goal, 7 assist performer last year, midfielder Ryan Goodenberger and wingers Levi Gill and Moe Webb.

Also back will be Keegan Smith and Paul Muirhead from junior varsity and some varsity action, Drew Mitchell returning after a two-year hiatus with injuries, and the acrobatic Caleb Forrest in goal.

Gone from the Kurt-Mason soccer machine are key defenders Jordan Kurt-Mason, Matt Mesker and Michael Dach, who personally accounted for 34 block-takeaways last season; midfield scoring threat Brian Hart, wing-defender Zeb Gill and speedy, but injured Travis Reid.

Kurt-Mason expects to run a varied offense this year, adapting skills to positions as play develops.

A number of other holdovers from junior varsity action are expected to challenge for varsity playing time.

The first practice Aug. 11 requires all candidates to have a parental permission slip and a certification of physician examination before participation will be allowed.

After the first day of practice, the squad will endure two-a-days (exact times yet to be set) through Aug. 22 .

A scrimmage will be held Aug. 23, and final selections for varsity action will follow.

The team, for the second consecutive year, will open the season with a two-day road trip to Colorado Springs Christian 4:15 p.m. Aug. 29 and Manitou Springs 10 a.m. Aug. 30.

In the first such Front Range excursion last year, the Pirates brought home a pair of victories, the last on a long hooking free kick into the wind in overtime by the now departed Hart.

For the first time in several years, there will be no games against schools from northern New Mexico on the local kickers' schedule.

After the season-opening road trip, the Pirates will host Crested Butte at Golden Peaks Stadium 6 p.m. Sept. 12 and Ridgway at 1 p.m. the following day.

Then they go on the road for games at Telluride 5 p.m. Sept. 19, Bayfield 7 p.m. Sept. 23 and Center, 1 p.m. Sept. 27.

They return home for a 1 p.m. Oct. 4 game with Telluride, host Bayfield at 7 p.m. Oct. 7, go back on the road to face Ridgway 1 p.m. Oct. 11, come home to greet Center 5 p.m. Oct. 16 and close out the regular season 1 p.m. Oct. 18 in Crested Butte.

Kurt-Mason expects both Bayfield and Ridgway to be challengers this year with Telluride and his own Pirates in the playoff mix. Center is always a tough team early but seems to fade when children of itinerant farm workers leave with their families as the season goes deep into fall.

Crested Butte, a surprise winner over the Pirates in the town north of Gunnison last year, also is a foe not to be taken lightly.

"We have a tough season ahead of us," Kurt Mason said, "but I feel we have a strong corps on which to build and we'll be right in the mix for league honors at the end."



MLS soccer camp set here Aug. 4-8

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

For the eighth consecutive year, Pagosa Springs youth interested in soccer have a chance to learn from the pros.

MLS Camp, the official camp of Major League Soccer in the United States, will come to town Aug. 4-8.

Camp sessions will be conducted daily in three age brackets, with team training program for youth 10 and over twice a day.

The sessions will be on the Pagosa Springs High School soccer practice field 9-10:30 a.m. for 5-6 year olds, 9 a.m.-noon for 7-11 year olds, and 5-8 p.m. for 12-18 year olds.

The extended team training program, with a minimum of 10 per team, will be 9 am.-noon and 5-8 p.m. daily.

Each player participating will receive a soccer ball and T-shirt and all campers are required to bring their own shin guards and a water bottle daily.

Coaches will be British guests in America who have completed training at the highly regarded school in Manchester, England. All are licensed and educated in all aspects of coaching, interactions and communication with children in their charge.

Lindsey Kurt-Mason, camp coordinator, said host homes still are needed for some of the guest coaches.

Anyone interested in providing that service should call him at 731-2458.

The MLS camp for Pagosa Springs is a project of Pagosa Sting Soccer Club.


Golfers tee off first among Pirate athletes

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Summer break's nearly over.

No one knows that more than those hoping to make the Pagosa Springs High School golf team.

The team actually begins practice long before school starts, teeing up for the first practice session 5:30 p.m. Aug. 4.

The coed squad is open to any high school student who feels they have golf talent and would like to represent the Pirates on the links.

The squad will have just nine days to practice before the opening matches of the season, Aug. 13 at Durango Dalton, Aug 14 at Durango Hillside and then the lone home appearance of the season, Aug. 15.

The Pagosa Invitational had a dozen teams registered by last weekend and more are expected for the matches at Pagosa Springs Golf Club.

Several returnees from last year will seek to solidify their varsity status. Included will be Ty Faber, Steven Sellers, Garrett Forrest and Casey Belarde. Jayvee players who could force their way into the lineup are Jake Mackinson, Niko Carrizzo, Craig Lucero, Damian Rome, Steven Parker and Matt Lattin.

Newcomers looking for action will include Tom Huckins, who played varsity at Gunnison last year, and the lone, so far, female hopeful, Samantha Ricker.

Coach Mark Faber anticipates at least four or five more candidates for the team will be making the first practices.

The balance of the team's schedule will include Delta Aug. 20, Montrose the following day and Cortez Sept. 22; open dates to be filled Sept. 2 and 5, Ridgway Sept. 8, Crested Butte Sept. 12 and regionals at Pueblo West Sept. 16 and state finals Sept. 29 and 30 in Alamosa.

As with all high school sports, candidates must have a parental permission slip and doctor certification of physical fitness before being allowed to play.

Faber said prospective players with any questions may contact him during the day at 264-2297 and at night at 731-2231. Assistant coach and Jayvee mentor will again be Tom Riedberger who can be reached at 731-8329.



Aniceto Maestas

Aniceto Rosenaldo "Ross" Maestas died at the age of 87 Sunday, July 13, 2003, at Pine Ridge Extended Care Center in Pagosa Springs.

Ross was born in Durango, Colo., on April 17, 1916 to Gabrielita Sanchez Maestas and Candido Maestas.

He served in the United States Navy in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He married Lucy Valdez in Pocatello, Idaho in 1944 and they moved from Silverton, Colo., to Pagosa Springs in 1951 where he worked for Archuleta County Road and Bridge Department and as a handyman. He served on the Pagosa Springs Town Board from April 1970 through April 1980. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, camping and horses.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Lucy; his parents, Candido and Gabrielita; four infant brothers and an infant sister.

He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Anna and George Maez of Pagosa Springs; daughter and son-in-law Patsy and Joe Dan Martinez of Henderson, Nev.; sisters Louise Garcia and Margaret Rodri of Durango; sister Francis Maes of Santa Fe Springs, Calif.; sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Byron Schrimp of Ypsilanti, Mich.; sister and brother-in-law Dora and Dave Chavez of Farmington, N.M.; brother and sister-in-law Nick and Phyllis Maestas of Aurora, Colo.; five grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

Ross was well known and loved by many in the community and will be greatly missed.

Recitation of the Rosary was at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 15, 2003 and Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 16, 2003, both services in Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Pagosa Springs with the Rev. John Bowe officiating. Interment was to follow in Hilltop Cemetery.

Wade Slough Sr.

Wade Manchell Slough Sr., died in his Pagosa Springs home on Wednesday, July 9, 2003. He was 88.

Wade was born May 8, 1915 in Holder, Texas to Grover Cleveland Slough and Nancy Melissa Wade. He attended high school in Goldsboro, Texas and earned his CPA through LaSalle University.

On Oct. 20, 1941, he married Nona Audrey Pike in Odessa, Texas. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in 36th Division, M Company, 143rd Infantry. He was transferred to the 36th Signal Company during World War II and received the Bronze Star for meritorious service. He advanced in rank to technical sergeant and participated in the landings at Salerno, Italy and St. Raphael, France and was honorably discharged on July 1, 1945.

After his military service, he went to work for the U.S. Postal Service and served as postmaster in Odessa, Texas for 20 years. He retired in 1972 and earned his commercial real estate license before moving from Odessa to Pagosa Springs in 1991.

He served as a deacon for many years at First Christian Church in Odessa where he was a charter life member of VFW Post 4372 and served as its first full-time commander. He was a Master Mason, a Shriner, a member of the Odessa Toastmasters Club, and the Rotary Club.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers W.C. "Bud" Slough and Aubrey Slough, and sisters Cleo, Dollie and Myrtle.

Survivors include his wife, Audrey, of Pagosa Springs; son and daughter-in-law Wade Jr. and Cheryl Slough of Plano, Texas; daughter Brenda Cockrell of Dallas; daughter and son-in-law Rune' and George Scott of Dallas; brother and sister-in-law G.C. and Dorinda Slough; sister and brother-in-law Jean and Bob Szosthowski; grandchildren Sean, Clint and Tamara Cockrell, Wade III, Brent and Rachel Slough, Sherry Adams and Michelle Hendrickson; and great-grandchildren Blake and Chase Adams and Caitlin and Caroline Cockrell.

Funeral services were scheduled 3 p.m. July 12, 2003, at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Odessa, where interment was to follow.

Billie Jean Riggs

Billie Jean Riggs died Saturday July 12, 2003 at age 74. She was born in Oklahoma City, Nov. 22, 1928, the only child of Raymond Cecil and Cecil Anna Johnson. She graduated from Central High School in 1946 and was the Central High School Blackshirt Sweetheart.

She married Lt. William G. Riggs in August of 1946, shortly after he returned from duty in Europe. In 1948 they were sent to Germany where Bill was assigned to the 18th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division. While in Germany Billie served as a Red Cross Volunteer (Grey Lady). Her parents and her daughter Teresa Ann Riggs Carlson preceded Billie in death. Her husband of 57 years, and her son William G. (Gerry) Riggs Jr. of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and many loving relatives survive her.

While her husband Bill was overseas on unaccompanied assignments, Billie worked in Oklahoma City at Mercy Hospital as the Cancer Registrar for the American Cancer Society, and later as the Executive Secretary to the Chief of Nursing. While living in Tokyo, Japan from 1961-1964, she served as director of the Red Cross Volunteers of the U.S. Far Eastern Command. When Bill was in Vietnam in 1967-68 during the Tet Offensive, Billie served as director of "The Wives Who Wait" for Columbus and Ft. Benning, Ga. Upon discovering that taxi drivers were leaving death notices in mailboxes she called President Lyndon Johnson, who had this method stopped. Johnson asked her to accompany the Ft. Benning chaplain to deliver all future death notices.

When President Johnson came to review the troops at Ft. Benning he invited her to sit with him in the reviewing stand. At Billie's request he also invited all the small children of the soldiers who were serving in Vietnam on a tour of Air Force One. Another important event in Billie's life was when she was selected to escort Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt when the former first lady addressed the Officer's Wives Club at Ft. Benning. Billie authored a chapter in the book "Women's War Memories," published by Rosemary Bachle in 1999.

During the Susquehanna River flood of 1972 Billie served as a volunteer at the National Guard Armory in Scranton, Pa. After their retirement in 1973, the couple moved home to Oklahoma City where Billie helped her husband operate the Riggs Plumbing Company for 21 years. Between 1998 and 1999 she was the loving caretaker of her husband who was in treatment for Agent Orange exposure related cancer. With the help of Dr. Chohan, her support resulted in his survival and remission.

Billie and her family spent a lot of time in the log home they built in Pagosa Springs, Colo., trout fishing and having fun. She was an accomplished bridge player and was the rock that supported her husband and children throughout their lives. She never regarded anyone as a stranger.

The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to: Crisis Services (Passageway), YMCA, 2469 W. Service Rd, Oklahoma City, OK 73112-8799, or to: Mercy Health Center, 4300 W. Memorial Rd., Okla., City, OK 73120, or to: Viet Nam Veteran's Memorial Fund, 1023 15th St, NW, Washington, DC, 20065-2602.

Visitation was 8-9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at Smith & Kernke Chapel, in Oklahoma City where funeral services were at on 1 p.m. Wednesday, with interment following at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens off the Northwest Expressway.


The Sterling family will hold a service tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Hilltop Cemetary to bury the ashes of Lee Sterling.

All are welcome to attend. Directions to the site will be available at the cemetary entrance.



Inside The Sun

Consultant recommends health service district rebuild its clinic operation

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

A private family practice clinic owned by a doctor who's been in Pagosa Springs for 20 years contracted by the health service district for certain services.

A restructured family practice clinic that remains directly under the control of the special district.

Those are the options considered by a consultant for the Upper San Juan Health Service District.

Bob Bohlmann, a part-time Pagosa Springs resident with 30 years experience as an administrator and consultant in the health care industry, was hired by district manager Dee Jackson to evaluate district practice, consider the current situation and alternatives, review the financial and strategic orientation of the district and report on his findings. His contract was presented to the board at its June meeting.

"I'm here to try to be objective," Bohlmann said before making his report to the board at a workshop July 10. "Some people are going to like what I have to say, and some people aren't going to like what I have to say."

He said the board needed to take a hard look at the realities of private practice problems nationwide, consider its financial responsibilities and the future of the district.

He asked three questions about the privatization plan presented by Dr. Mark Wienpahl, Physician Assistant Susan Kuhns, Dr. Bob Brown and J.R. Ford at the June board meeting:

"What if the practice fails again?

"What happens to the facility after five years?

"What about fiduciary accountability based upon market value of service attributed to the contract?"

Bohlmann outlined the situation based on his understanding of the history. In 1996, the clinic building, which he called a "tremendous facility with good flow an attractive building," was constructed. In 1998, the district absorbed the Mary Fisher Clinic at the request of Wienpahl, assuming a $314,000 debt.

Over the next several years, the district was plagued by management and financial problems. In 2002, a new district manager, Jackson, was hired. The same year, audits have shown the district experienced a financial turnaround that put it "back in black." The same year, staff came to the board a number of times to report problems with management.

Those kind of staff issues are, Bohlmann said, "a classic situation.

"I have been involved in many situations where a change agent comes in and good, qualified people can't deal with the change agent," he said. "I see it all the time as a consultant."

The choice for the employer is simple: Give up or move on.

In reality, he said, primary care practices - those involving family practice, pediatrics and internal medicine - face pressure from many sides.

"Patient expectations are high," Bohlmann said. Patients view these practices as "utilities. It should be available at our call to plug it in."

On the other side, reimbursement for primary care is low, especially when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid. Under those plans, the federal government pays 60 cents or 40 cents on the dollar, respectively. Added to that, the healthcare industry is one of the most controlled industries in the country today.

Family practices must also consider whether or not they will see the uninsured.

Bottom line, Bohlmann said, is "the physicians are lucky to keep 35 percent of the fees charged." Survival means increased patient volume, limiting Medicare customers and, in many cases, refusing Medicaid all together.

He attributed the financial turnaround of the clinic in 2002 to three factors: the hiring of Dan Keuning, family nurse practitioner - who saw an estimated 3,000 patients - cost containment and collection of past accounts.

According to the statistics, Bohlmann said, the median number of patient visits a single family practice doctor needs to have in a year to stay viable is about 4,700. At the Dr. Mary Fisher Clinic, the two family practice physicians together saw 4,769 patients in the last year. Meanwhile, he said, the salaries for the two doctors and one nurse practitioner equaled $287,000, about $70,000 above average according to the consulting group.

Salary, he said, should be incentive-based with incentives tied to the number of patient visits.

Bohlmann said, looking at the numbers, the district could save money by rebuilding the clinic from scratch with a single physician and two nurse practitioners versus accepting the privatization plan presented by Ford and Wienpahl. The exact amount of savings was debated. Bohlmann started with a figure of $140,000 a year. That figure was challenged by Ford. Eventually, Bohlmann dropped the number to $90,000 but, again, that was debated.

Bohlmann's scenario included accepting all of the staff resignations presented to the district manager in April.

"These next questions may anger some of you in the audience, they may anger some of you on the board but, Why can't the Mary Fisher Clinic function like other family practice medical practices? It's not that difficult. Why is Pagosa Springs different?"

In preparing the report, Bohlmann said, he encountered more "highly visible, divergent" viewpoints than ever before. And before includes more than 400 consulting jobs in 48 states.

"Life should not be this difficult."


Police called to Mary Fisher Clinic

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Following the Upper San Juan Health Service Board meeting Tuesday, police were called to the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center.

Two Pagosa Springs Police Department officers and one Archuleta County deputy responded to the scene after District Manager Dee Jackson called 911 to report unauthorized person in the clinic.

The problem was settled in a manner of minutes. No citations were issued.

Jackson said as she returned to her office in the Emergency Medical Services building to drop off materials following the board meeting she saw Dr. Bob Brown and an ex-district employee in the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center parking lot.

Unaware that Brown had been loaned a key to the clinic building, Jackson called 911 and then went across the street to find out what was going on. After talking with Brown, she said, she discovered he was on-scene to treat a patient and had received the key from Dr. Mark Wienpahl to do so.

Jackson asked the ex-employee to leave the clinic building. Emergency Medical Services personnel arrived to assist the doctor with patient treatment and no action from law enforcement was needed.

However, she said, while they were straightening out the situation, a few other cars arrived and passengers in one vehicle made some derogatory statements. Police did talk with the people in that vehicle and diffused the situation.

Brown said he was on-call Tuesday evening. He received a call from an out of town family. A juvenile had been hit in the head by a golf club and required assistance to repair a laceration. Brown made an appointment to meet the patient and his father at the clinic.

When he arrived at the clinic with a friend, he said Jackson pulled up followed by a sheriff's deputy.

"She asked me what was going on, and I told her and she said OK," Brown said. He has not had a key to the clinic since the locks were rekeyed in April when a suspected narcotics theft was reported to the Pagosa Springs Police Department. That investigation has yet to be concluded.

At a later board meeting, Board President Charles Hawkins said the providers at the clinic would be reissued keys. Brown said he never asked for a new key and used the one provided to EMS whenever he was on-call.

Shortly thereafter the patient arrived, Brown treated the juvenile, sewing up a cut to the head.

Following the incident, Brown said two members of the Department of Emergency Services helped him clean out his office. Brown gave his 30-day notice to the district manager back in April along with the rest of the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center staff.

The effective date of resignation was extended several times while the district board considered its options. Earlier Tuesday night, the board had voted to go ahead with rebuilding the clinic. Wednesday morning, District Manager Dee Jackson, said all of the resignations tendered in April had been accepted. Neither Brown, nor Physician Assistant Susan Kuhns arrived for work Wednesday.

Dr. Mark Wienpahl said Wednesday he will continue to see clinic patients with urgent problems, "for an unspecified number of days."


Walan resigns from health service district board, Debra Brown picked for spot

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Upper San Juan Health Service District Board member Sue Walan resigned her seat on the board at the regular meeting Tuesday.

Charles Hawkins read a letter from Walan to the board to open the meeting. Walan was not present.

According to the letter, Walan resigned her position because increased job responsibilities made it difficult to devote enough hours to the district. Walan was recently appointed to the position of Archuleta County Engineer.

After reading the letter, Hawkins opened the door to the board for nominations to fill the vacancy.

The first person nominated by the board was Debra Brown, chairman of the Citizens' Advisory Committee. That nomination was seconded.

As Hawkins called for a vote, members of the audience complained loudly. They said he was required to take all nominations before voting.

After that, he asked if any other board members had nominations.

Board member Dr. Dick Blide nominated Pam Hopkins and Don Lundergan. Board member Ken Morrison nominated Dr. Jim Knoll and Dick Babillis. Knoll promptly withdrew his nomination because, he said, he is not in town enough to serve.

The board voted by secret ballot. Board Secretary Martha Garcia counted the ballots. Brown was appointed to the position by a 4-2 vote and sworn in by John Farnsworth, district accountant and a notary public.

Walan was the third board member to resign since January. In the case of the other two, the board took almost the full 90 days allotted by law to appoint replacements, conducting a special meeting to interview the six candidates who expressed interest.


County, town inch closer to roads agreement

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Following a decision Tuesday by the Archuleta County commissioners, the county and the town of Pagosa Springs are one step closer to finalizing a collaborative agreement for road improvements to portions of Village Drive, Piñon Causeway - and now - Talisman Drive.

In the works since early this year, former versions of the contract included language related only to reconstructing segments of Village Drive and Piñon Causeway.

According to Bill Steele, county administrator, the possibility of adding Talisman Drive to the scenario - one of a few minor changes included in the most recent draft - came about after costs for the two-street project, originally estimated at around $200,000, were recently recalculated to reflect an approximate expenditure of $183,000.

"It appears that we can now do three streets for the cost of two ... if these numbers hold," explained Steele.

Steele indicated the total cost for the project will not be finalized until a construction contract is awarded, but said current estimates put the price tag for improvements to the three thoroughfares at roughly $234,000.

Designated for improvements are the portion of Village Drive from Talisman Drive to Piñon Causeway and the stretch of Piñon Causeway from Village Drive to U.S. 160. The exact segment of Talisman Drive that will receive treatment has not yet been determined.

While former drafts envisioned the town shouldering the fiscal responsibility for preparatory engineering work and construction management to be performed by Davis Engineering Services Inc., the latest version mandates that all costs will be shared equally among the two entities.

However, a mainstay throughout the process has been the notion that the town will be expected to annex the roadways shortly after the project's completion and assume all future responsibilities regarding their maintenance, repairs, easements, improvements and rights-of-way.

The contract also states the "county shall provide construction supervision" during the improvement effort and also serve as the project administrator.

On a related note, in response to assertions from Pagosa Lakes residents Richard Akin and George Esterly that a lack of road maintenance on some subdivision roads is causing deterioration and "dust bowl" conditions, the board said efforts to control such problems are ongoing.

Because of population booms and the resulting increased traffic loads, "Roads are always a concern in any community, any county," said Alden Ecker, board chairman.

"And we've got to find new methods to maintain roads, and we are trying to do that," continued Ecker, indicating the county is currently experimenting with new types of chemical applications such as Lignosulfate, which may prove more durable than magnesium chloride.

Echoing those sentiments, Steele indicated another move toward a comprehensive maintenance plan will likely take shape in the next couple of months with the creation of a "priority list" for county roads.

Playing integral roles in that effort, said Steele, will be the county's selection for the newly-created position of public works director (yet to be named, officially), and former building inspector Sue Walan, who was recently appointed county engineer.

In other business, the board:

- approved the re-appointment of Emzy Barker to the county fair board

- appointed Dan Aupperle to the Upper San Juan Regional Planning Commission to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation of Lynn Constan

- set a work session on the proposed county noise ordinance for July 23, 3 p.m.

- tabled consideration of approval for a conditional use permit sought by Northeast Mini-Storage in order to review corresponding geotechnical reports/surveys

- set a public hearing for review of a conditional use permit for Nielsons Skanska gravel pit/asphalt plant for July 22, 7 p.m.


Temporary gravel pit gets nod from planning commission


By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

In accordance with a recommendation from Archuleta County planning staff, plans to initiate a temporary gravel pit/asphalt plant operation east of town were given conditional approval by the Upper San Juan Regional Planning Commission following a July 9 public hearing inside the county courthouse.

A 20-acre portion of land on the westerly side of U.S. 160, approximately 4.5 miles northeast of town and owned by Weber Ranches of Pagosa LLC, is the proposed site for the project.

If the operation is given the final nod from the county board of commissioners, gravel mining and crushing operations will begin in early August and could be completed by October, weather permitting.

Asphalt plant operations will not begin until next spring and last an estimated 6-8 weeks, while full site reclamation would be required by the end of next year.

Asphalt produced at the plant will be used in the reconstruction of portions of U.S. 160 near Treasure Falls, an effort sponsored by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Site plans include a berm and petroleum-proof liner to safeguard against the threat of spills into the San Juan River from hot mix plant operations, though such occurrences "would have to be almost malicious," according to Craig Wickstrom, project manager for conditional-use permit applicant Nielsons Skanska Inc.

While alternative sites were investigated, said Wickstrom, to minimize hauling distances and fill the need for appropriate gravel to meet CDOT pavement requirements, his company bid for the proposed location because "this is as close to the project as we can get."

Several other conditions set forth in the approval, including all applicable state regulations regarding dust abatement and emissions, will serve to mitigate the possibility of air and water pollution at the site.

The approval also stipulates that water quality in a nearby well serving the Log Park subdivision will also be regularly tested and monitored for any signs of contamination. If a significant decrease in quality is detected, the findings will be presented to the board of county commissioners for review and a decision on the proper course of action.

Operating hours for the project are proposed between 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, with no work of any kind permitted during weekends and holidays.

While public comment on the project was minimal and consisted mainly of questions relating to effective noise reduction, increased traffic and operating-hour enforcement, adjacent land owner Tony Gilbert expressed concern for the future of his tourist-based business.

"I'm not opposed to this project," said Gilbert, who owns and operates Elk Meadows River Resort with wife Nancy, "But I am opposed to the effects on our business."

Gilbert explained he believed the project could drive away a significant number of repeat customers his establishment has attracted over the years, thus causing a negative "rippling effect" in business if steps were not taken to minimize dust, noise, etc.

However, during a short break in the hearing and at the request of Bob Huff, commission chairman, Gilbert and Wickstrom were eventually able to verbally agree upon measures that will be implemented to minimize the effects to the resort's economy.

A public hearing before the board of county commissioners has been set for 7 p.m. July 22 in the courthouse meeting room.


Personnel moves abound as opening of schools nears

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

As the opening date for classes in the 2003-04 school year rapidly approaches, teaching positions are filling but there still are vacancies.

The board of education for Archuleta School District 50 Joint worked toward a full complement in action Tuesday, but not without a one-hour executive session.

Earlier, Superintendent Duane Noggle had told the board principals recommended a number of changes and those recommendations were approved by the administration.

Included in the group were transfer of Scott White from sixth-grade computer instruction to eighth-grade American history; moving Mary K. Fautheree from third-grade teacher to English as a second language instructor in the elementary school; transferring Dan Janowsky from eighth-grade American history instructor to high school social studies instructor; Becky Johnson from part-time junior high computer teacher to full time day treatment; and advancing Justin Cowan from seventh-grade assistant football coach to head coach for the seventh grade.

Noggle said the School Within a School lead teacher position in the intermediate school remains open with interviews expected to be completed by July 20. Parents of students in the special class have been reviewing applications.

Principal Mark DeVoti will make the final selection and a recommendation to the board for action at the August meeting.

Noggle also reported the hiring of Steve Walston as maintenance director, subject to board approval.

Walston was one of 29 candidates for the post vacated by Dennis Kleckner.

Noggle said the selection committee narrowed the field to seven and six of those agreed to interviews. After the interviews, the committee spent nearly three hours before making a final selection.

Members of the committee were Kahle Charles, Justin Cowan, Jon Forrest, Mike Haynes, Nancy Schutz and Kleckner.

The executive session came when administration recommended staffing moves came up for discussion.

Director Randall Davis, board president, asked for the executive session but director Carol Feazel felt it probably wasn't necessary.

Davis argued, "I have some serious questions and reservations."

The session began at 7:48 p.m. and at 8:18 p.m. Mark De Voti, intermediate school principal, was called in. Loud voices could be heard from the anteroom where the session was being held.

At exactly one hour after starting the executive session, the board came out and acted to approve the first five names on the list.

Included in the action was naming Varina Boudreaux a third-grade teacher; Donna Hudson a halftime kindergarten teacher; Ron Danuser as 7th grade assistant football coach; J.D. Kurz as eighth-grade science teacher and Sheryl Harding as day treatment case manager.

The board did not act on the sixth recommendation - the naming of a sixth-grade computer teacher.


School transportation cost cuts approved

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

When Dolly Martin was asked by school board members to recommend possible cost savings in the school district transportation program, she took the directive to heart.

Martin, transportation director, gave the board of education for Archuleta School District 50 Joint a three-point recommendation Tuesday.

And before the discussion was over, two of the three points had been approved with estimated savings for the program ranging from $5,497 to $18,000.

The first point, the only one not adopted, was to cut routes.

Second in her recommendation was to eliminate the practice of payments to parents in lieu of transportation, the idea which produced the greatest discussion.

Third was hiring special activities bus drivers instead of utilizing regular route drivers for those runs. Regular route drivers make up to $20 per hour while activities drivers are paid $10.50.

In the past, Martin said, she has pulled regular drivers off their routes for two or three days to make up for their absence on activities trips in terms of hourly pay. Some lower paid regular drivers, she said, depend on the activities assignments for extra income.

Setting the scenario for board discussion, she said the department handled 444 activities trips last school year and 349 of them were driven by regular route drivers.

On the agenda for the night, in addition to Martin's report, was a request for extension of Route 17 down Colo. 151.

Board members noted the request had been made before and although 15-17 students were signed up as riders, rarely more than one or two were actually aboard buses running beyond the normal last bus stop.

Director Carol Feazel said the board listened to the hardship plea once and it didn't pay off. "We can't run buses for children who don't intend to ride.

"Isn't it true," she asked, "that most of those children live in other districts?"

Superintendent Duane Noggle said yes, "most in the Ignacio district."

He said there is cloudy information as to who should pay for that transportation. "Do we bill the school district? Do we ask Ignacio to pay the families for transporting their children here? Do we ask the other district to pay for moving the children to the nearest bus stop? Or, do we operate in violation if we include those students transported in our claims for reimbursement? There are no fixed answers."

"It could be time," Martin said, "to stop all transport of students from beyond current final stops."

Nancy Schutz, district business manager, dropped a bombshell on board members and the audience when she told them, "Actually, transportation is not required at all. We certainly don't want to stop it all, but there is no mandate in state law for us to provide it."

Davis recommended the board adopt Martin's points two and three immediately and hold off on her first recommendation for now.

Director Clifford Lucero agreed, suggesting probably no more than 10 percent of those eligible under the school board's repayment policy actually use the service.

"Since it isn't mandatory, and just a service, we need to get out of it, now," he said.

"If we're going to do it, we need to do it now," he said. "We can wait on option one until after the first few weeks of school and then evaluate the situation at our September meeting on the basis of actual use."

Approval of Martin's recommendations two and three came on a unanimous vote on motion by Feazel, seconded by Lucero.


Athletic trainer program approved for schools

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Only 25 percent of all high schools in the United States have athletic trainers.

As of Tuesday night, Pagosa Springs High School has joined that elite group on an experimental basis.

After hearing a presentation by David Hamilton, athletic director, and Mark Ziegler, a licensed athletic trainer living in Pagosa Springs, the board of directors of Archuleta School District 50 Joint approved utilizing Ziegler as the district's athletic trainer.

Currently employed by Mercy Orthopedic and Sports Therapy in Pagosa, Ziegler would continue there while working with high school athletes.

He told the board he has been here only three months and already has worked with at least 10 high school athletes with medical problems.

"Athletes are getting progressively bigger, stronger and faster - and more prone to injury through improper training techniques," he told the board.

The physical therapist works with area physicians, emergency medical technicians, orthopedists and coaches as part of the preventive team that also assists in treatment of and rehabilitation from severe injuries.

All athletes will, at one time or another, get injured, he told the board. They need guidance in rehabbing and that is the trainer's job.

Hamilton told the board the district already has training tables installed in the weight room and Mercy will be assisting in the program with needed equipment like ultrasound testing gear.

A video shown by the pair indicated a growing trend nationwide for school districts to be held accountable if they provide athletic opportunities but not the proper care of the athletes, citing specifically a case in Washington, D.C. which has become the guidance base for school training programs.

The trainer, Ziegler said, is the person most directly in contact with the student athlete and is the conduit for contact between the athlete and physician should one be needed.

He said two-thirds of all athletic injuries take place in practice, when the trainer is on hand. Most of the rest take part in the latter stages of game action when stamina is wearing down.

Hamilton and Ziegler both said it is the trainer's job to detect potential problems early and thus avoid serious injuries.

Hamilton said the $5,000 estimated first-year cost will be partially covered by utilization of unused allotments for C-team coaches and that grants are being sought to supplement the available cash.

In fact, he said, the initial cost to the district could be as low as $1,900 if all requested grants are received.

The athletic trainer will be available for all sports and all home encounters, including those for junior high teams.

In answer to a question from director Mike Haynes, Hamilton said "this is just a basic plan right now, a pilot program if you will. We want to see how it works, if it provides the medical backup we think it will."

"The real answer," Ziegler said, "is that the athlete doesn't have to play with pain."

Randall Davis, board president, said he can see long-range implications if, "through this program, we can detect and correct problems before they become serious injuries."

"If the idea is approved," Ziegler said, "we'll hold coaches' clinics. alerting them to the signs to watch for. Our job will be to educate everyone."

The service would be provided on a contract basis. The motion for approval by director Clifford Lucero was seconded by director Carol Feazel and approved unanimously.


School board angered by faulty publication

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

When you pay for a special report you expect it to be readable and - at the very least - have the name of your community spelled correctly.

That is not what Archuleta School District  50 Joint got for its tax dollars when it contracted for publication of its proposed new Facility Master Plan.

Director Carol Feazel told the board Tuesday, "I'm very unimpressed with the publication. It has a flashy cover but even our town name is misspelled several times.

"Many common, every day words, also are mispelled. It was a waste of our money."

"It is just not a very professional effort," she said.

Superintendent Duane Noggle agreed with Feazel and suggested all copies be returned to the printer with board comment and reaction firmly noted.

Randall Davis, board president, said he also has questions about content.

"Some of the numbers seem to be skewed to make it appear we need new bonding," he said, "and we know that not to be a fact."

Feazel continued her criticism with the statement, "Many of the topics addressed don't even appear to apply to our school district," citing specifically references to lack of security at the elementary school.

"Their recommendation for a six-foot fence around the school campus is ludicrous," she said. "We don't need to make our schools look like prisons. This isn't the inner city."

"I think they were not dealing with us but with a conglomerate school picture they dredged up from somewhere," she concluded.

Davis demurred slightly, saying, "I did find some good ideas despite all the errors. And, there are advantages to having all the data in one book. It can help us determine problems and where needs may arise with reference to all our buildings."

He suggested the board look at it now for discussion next month and try to develop a time line for future needs.

In other action Tuesday, the board:

- learned asphalting was completed on the new track facility July 8 and the track surface installation still is planned for early August. Noggle planned to meet Wednesday with the architect and contractor Rob Keating to discuss the overall project and details of completion in time for fall sports action

- learned Pagosa Kiwanis Club has deposited a $1,380 grant with Wells Fargo for the high school television communications program headed by Curtis Maberry

- heard school district legal counsel Reese Miller report his firm will have a new person representing the district because one member of the firm had departed. "We look forward to positive rather than negative things," he said.

- delayed temporarily a plan to restructure the bonding for the high school project to save money in interest payments. Nancy Schutz, business manager, said the market is too volatile right now and that it would be wiser to grant the administration authority to act when the market is more stable.


Canyons best bet for fish during heat wave

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Near-record temperatures continued to warm below-average flows in regional streams and rivers in the past week, and as a result midday trout fishing has slowed to a crawl across most of Pagosa Country.

Some exceptions are the shaded box canyon areas in the Williams Creek/Piedra River watershed, deeper pools in the San Juan River through town, and the upper reaches of high-altitude tributaries such as Fourmile Creek.

The heat wave is taking its toll on area reservoirs as well, and while fishing for warm-water species will result in spotty action throughout the day, trout and salmon are generally reserving their feeding efforts until sunrise and sunset.

The following is a breakdown of conditions at some regional fishing hotspots:

- San Juan River - Flow has fallen to around 30 cubic feet per second, but the stretch of river through downtown continues to yield a steady harvest of native and stocked rainbows along with an occasional brown. Successful anglers are using spinners, flies, salmon eggs and streamers.

- Echo Lake - Aquatic plant growth is making things difficult for shoreline anglers in some areas, but largemouth bass, crappie, small sunfish and perch are being taken on live bait, ultralight jigs and small plastics. Most trout are seeking deep water midday but will hit flies, marabou jigs, flashy spinners, salmon eggs, worms, cheese and PowerBait early and late.

- Williams Creek Reservoir - Fishing for rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout is reportedly fair to good with live bait, PowerBait, light jigs in orange and yellow, and spinners in gold, silver and bright fluorescents. Kokanee fishing has slowed, but some anglers are reporting occasional success with flashy spoons and pop gear in 25-35 feet of water.

- Navajo Reservoir - Surface level is listed at an elevation of 6,014 feet and water temperature is in the 70s. Catfishing is good to excellent; fish are active day and night, regularly hitting blood/stink baits. Smallmouth bass are taking medium-sized grubs and similar soft plastics, and crappie are being caught near submerged rocks and brush using vertical jigging methods. Northern pike are active in the afternoon and are striking reflective spoons, plugs and crankbaits.

- Big Meadows Reservoir - Fishing for rainbow and brook trout is good near the creek inlets and reportedly picking up in the deeper portions of the lake. Fish are hitting PowerBait, flies, and brightly-colored spinners.

- East Fork of San Juan - Recently stocked. Fishing for pan-sized rainbows and browns along lower stretches is fair in the early morning and toward evening.

- Piedra River - Clear, low flow along the entire stretch of public water. Fishing is best in the canyons and near dawn or dusk. Browns and rainbows are the predominant catch and are hitting flies, streamers and flashy spinners.

- Middle Fork, Piedra River - Low flows. Fish are easily spooked, but small browns and rainbows are occasionally being taken on flies and small jigs and spinners.

- Fourmile Creek - Flow is falling, but brook trout and cutthroats are taking attractor-pattern flies and lightweight spinners in the upper sections near the falls.

- Williams Creek - Water near the campgrounds continues to see heavy pressure, but fishing in shaded canyons is good early and late. Flies and small spinners are working well for brookies, cutthroats, browns and rainbows near the dam, while browns and rainbows are the main catch along the lower stretches.


Reunion gives family chance to live up to civic responsibility

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

The Rasmussen family is a far-flung conglomerate across the southwest.

But they are a close-knit group, gathering every three years for a family reunion.

They travel a lot for these get-togethers - to places like Nauvoo, Ill., Flagstaff Ariz., sites in Missouri, Idaho and Utah and, last week, to Pagosa Springs.

Thirty five strong this year, they kept up a family reunion tradition: Wherever they go, they undertake a civic project, a means of letting people know they've been there and done their best to leave the area better than they found it.

The project: a trash collection from trails on Reservoir Hill.

Craig Rasmussen, the leader of the group, gathered his clan at the trail head on the west side of the hill and as all looked at the map, trail assignments were handed out.

From a youngster still in a baby buggy with a pacifier firmly tucked between his lips to the older members of the family, they gathered trash bags and carefully studied the layout of their assigned trail.

And then it was time to go, time to culminate their civic project for 2003.

The family was here for a week, staying at time shares and keeping the family tradition alive, a tradition of keeping ties fresh, keeping the faith with their ancestors, and making a mark on the history of a host community.

They left Pagosa Springs Saturday, headed back to those homes across the lower Southwest.

But, if you saw the nearly three dozen scampering around the trails of Reservoir Hill Thursday, you know the Rasmussens have been here and done their civic duty.

Maybe the tradition will return them to Pagosa Country one day. If so, we'll again be the beneficiaries of their commitment.





Proud, blessed

If the residents of Archuleta County haven't seen the work done around the cemetery  and church in Trujillo they are missing something very beautiful.

I would like to thank those who took the effort and time to do this project.  It is so very nice.

At least this church and cemetery will stand proud and blessed.  Not on a corner in Pagosa, sad and lonely.

L. A. Baker

Gato, Colo.

Intolerance cited

Dear Editor:

Adrienne Haskamp automatically assumes that because someone finds a person's "sexual orientation" abhorrent, that must mean that the individual must be a hate monger as well.

Might I suggest her inference that homosexuality is more moral than pedophilia and bestiality, shows her own intolerance for individuals who, also have "different sexual orientations." How dare she suggest that a loving relationship between an adult and a child or a human and an animal is not equal to the love between two men or two women, "as long as it is in the privacy of one's own bedroom!"

One might suggest the difference lies in the argument that homosexuality is an act that occurs between consenting adults. Most states also have statutory rape laws which are intended to protect minors from adults. Oddly enough a 48-year-old man cannot legally have sex with a minor who is 17 years, 11 months and 28 days old, but can have sex with that person on her or his 18th birthday. So one day it's considered pedophilia and the next day it's a "loving relationship" between consenting adults.

One might want to ask if there is a moral difference between homosexuality and pedophilia, why is it that with so many priests who have been convicted on pedophilia charges, the victims are almost always boys?

I would suggest to you that M.A.B.L.A., Men and Boys Love Association members who generally show up at all major gay and lesbian functions, protests and parades, would argue they have a right to demand sex with boys for the same reasons that the gay lobby has demanded "their rights" for the last 20 years. I would say, looked at in the light of morality the differences become rather blurred.

I too can use the "some of my best friends" argument in regard to gays. One of my high school buddies lived a sordid life in an "alternative life style" and died of AIDS. Another, after years of bondage, was set free to live as "nature and the laws of nature" demand, and is a happily married heterosexual with children. His experience is used to set others free.

Ms. Haskamp, there are not 28 million homosexuals in America! Recent research and court rulings place the numbers, "conservatively" at less than 2 percent. With more space one could also state statistics among gays, on suicide, drug addiction, alcoholism, rape, sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and promiscuity, above all national norms, even in our promiscuous post Christian Society.

No, Ms. Haskamp, hatred for individuals is not what motivated my original letter. Rather hatred for an out of control legal system that for political reasons violates states' constitutional rights to protect our children.

William Bennett

Recycle mail

Dear Editor:

Do you want to help the environment ? Do you want to help save a tree? Feel good about yourself with little or no investment or effort?

This sounds like most of the junk mail that you, I and the rest of Pagosans get, doesn't it? The really good part about this is you can do something positive with your junk mail.

Right there in the lobby of the post office there are two ways to dispose of unwanted mail. You can either put it in the trash where it goes to fill the landfills and fills the land, or you can put it in the red recycle containers where it will be hauled away to be recycled thereby not filling the landfills and saving some of our natural resources.

Day after day I see people standing right next to a recycle bin but still put their junk mail in the garbage. Next time you are at the post office think about where that garbage goes and what is the better option.

The good part about this is that it takes absolutely no extra effort, No money down and no money later to do your part to help out.

Wouldn't it be great to see the post office have to put out more than just two recycle bins?

John Eustis

Knoll resigns

Dear Editor:

I became involved in the USJHSD at the request of a few of my fellow citizens. I did so reluctantly as I had only recently retired from this type of work, as well as the conflict, control struggles and lack of strategic foresight that usually goes along with this type of crisis. I did so as a volunteer consultant trying to help us get out of the crisis, but also to improve healthcare in the district. I took on the position as chair of the Medical Advisory Committee because someone needed to get the doctors talking to the district board and the board desperately needed to have medical input into its decision making. Otherwise I knew nothing would really change.

When I got involved, this board was immobilized, there was a siege mentality present; two members had recently resigned and others on the board were talking about resigning; the Mary Fisher Clinic staff had submitted resignations; the private practice clinic would not talk to the district manager; EMS was split with some wanting to be placed under the fire district; there was a mob mentality at meetings.

As a consultant should, I went about interviewing and talking to over 20 groups and met with over 200 people.

With the information we gathered, I saw this district was practicing outdated medicine, had no real medical system and that communication had almost completely broken down among the different elements.

I presented a six-point plan the board and doctors adopted in concept to correct the problems. For the first time in over a decade, doctors were actively involved in the district, trying to provide good medical direction and communication. We were on the verge of modernizing our healthcare, creating an integrated and comprehensive healthcare system that would take care of all our district patients.

However, as soon as the crisis quieted, some members of the board immediately set about undoing the six-point plan and trying to reconstruct the past which had proven to be outdated and not functional.

Basically the board has chosen to: reconstruct a failed public clinic; not consider alternatives for the direction of EMS; destroy the fragile communication and cooperation with local family doctors; in a subtle manner suppress open public and medical discussion before votes were taken; and vary meeting times, dates and places so that doctors, the public and even their own committee chairs have to chase them down.

I find it amazing that the record of this board, whose goal is medical care, for almost two decades now has the appearance of trying to avoid medical input into a medical system. I see little evidence or chance of broader thinking and healthcare improvement from this board as presently constituted and with present management.

I hereby resign as chair of the MAC knowing that it already ceases to exist. The doctors are no longer with the board. Some of you on this board may feel you have won a victory, but it is a Pyrrhic victory that will have much farther ranging medical complications for the district taxpayers than you are able to imagine.

Jim Knoll, M.D.

County budget

Dear Editor:

In June of 2001, the League of Women Voters of Archuleta County initiated a study of the county budget process to help improve the understanding of area voters. A committee of five was formed and began the study.

The scope included researching structure of the budget; the roles of the board of county commissioners, other elected officials and county staff; determining to what extent Colorado statutes control the budget process; and, to what extent the county complies with these statutes.

The study included review of the budgets for the years 1999 through 2002 and the related audit reports. Numerous budget hearings were observed and elected officials, county finance director, county administrator and the Durango representative of the Department of Local Affairs were interviewed.

The Colorado Revised Statutes that specify county budgeting procedures were also reviewed, and comparison was made with the La Plata County budget documents and procedures.

The committee finished the study in March of 2003, concluding that the budget process in Archuleta County is a complicated one involving many separate funds and interfund transfers. The report lists thirteen concerns and makes eleven recommendations.

The concerns deal mainly with the lack of clarity of the budget document and budget process, and the difficulty for citizens, and even other elected officials to be meaningfully involved in the process. There was also concern about the accuracy and foundation of the amounts used as "Beginning Fund Balances," transfers among funds, the appropriation (but not budgeting) of all reserves, and the lack of long-range planning.

The report has been presented to the league's board of directors and general membership. It was presented to the county commissioners and discussed at a work session June 17. A complete copy of the report is available to be read at the library.

Citizens are urged to read at least the first six pages of the report in order to be more informed on county financial issues.

Lynda Van Patter


Community News

Senior News


We'll try again Friday for picnic in the park

By Laura Bedard

SUN Columnist

We will try to have our first picnic in the park this month after getting rained and hailed out last month.

The event is scheduled for noon tomorrow in Town Park.

We have a fabulous picnic type menu, plenty of shade and sometimes we have toys like horseshoes, water guns and bubbles.

Feel free to bring other fun things along, and a hat.

We're pleased to announce that Archuleta County Fair royalty will be at the picnic to outline fair events and help serve.

Cost is $4.50 for those 59 and younger and a suggested $2.50 for those 60 and older.

Our first Canastaholics meeting/class will be 9 a.m.-noon July 21.

People wanting to learn Canasta or refresh their memories on how to play will find this the perfect class. Remember that learning new things keeps our minds sharp, and this class could prove addicting.

We have another ice cream social and singalong coming up. For only 50 cents we will serve ice cream with toppings. Last month some of us brought our favorite extras, like cake and caramel topping and I made some rhubarb sauce. Bring some fun additions and we can make some very interesting concoctions. All that sugar should give us the strength to sing some great old tunes, with the help of the Jack Hanson Trio. Join us for ice cream and song.

Walkin' with George

"On our morning walks we always travel around the basketball court counterclockwise. Recently I had a little dizzy spell and Lena thought it might be because I was 'all wound up.'

"Next week, Christy and Lena plan to take me to Mexican Hat, Utah and drop me off so I can walk home and unwind. (They'll have to catch me first)."

Laura's note: Maybe they'll find that extra .5 inch. (See last week's column).

Positive messages

You really are only as old as you feel (Journal of Communication, 2002). Expressions like, "You're only as old as you feel" may be clichés, but according to a new study they can have a positive effect on a person's mental and physical well-being.

Researchers found that so-called memorable messages about aging can persuade people to change their life-style as they grow older. Most messages the study participants remembered put a positive spin on the aging process, for example: "I will age like fine wine?"

Thirty-four percent said they had either changed their lives or changed their relationships with others as a result. Describing the impact of memorable messages, one participant wrote: "The message had a tremendous effect on my thoughts of old age. I now see it as an award for leading a decent life."

By the way, last week I heard a wonderful story from Charlotte Archuleta about her youth. She promised she would come in and play her accordion and tell us all her story.

One of the benefits of working at the senior center is hearing all these stories, and they not only can make you laugh, but also marvel at the fortitude and ingenuity of our grandparents, who went through the Depression and WW II and became stronger and with valuable lessons learned. If you come and have lunch with us sometime you, too, could learn much from our storytellers. We serve at noon Monday through Friday, except Thursday.


Friday - 10 a.m. Qi Gong; no Medicare counseling today

July 21 - 9 a.m.-noon Canastaholics meeting. Come and learn how to play; 1 p.m. bridge for fun

July 22 - 9:30 a.m., yoga; 10:30 a.m. advanced computer class

Wednesday, July 23 - 10:30 a.m. beginning computer class; 1 p.m. ice cream social and singalong; only 50 cents

Visitors and guests

Monday we saw Agnete and Robert Bartz for lunch, as well as Ron Buck, Richard Akin, Hilda Campos and Jerry and Ruth Driesens. We also fed Ralph and Carolyn Blackburn, Jean Hart, John Tarbets and Richard and Chris Troells. We were also pleased to see Charles and Vicky Knoop again; Vicky always dresses up so nice to visit us.

We also got to meet Walter Green, grandson of Bill and Glenda Clark. We found out one of Bill's aliases is "Squash." We are not sure how he got this moniker, but I'm sure he deserves it.

We are always happy to see young Nicholas Weber and we got to meet another young soul, Skylar Sanchez. We love to see kids come to eat with us.

Lunch menu

July 18 - Barbecue pork chops, corn cobbette, cole slaw, roll and watermelon

July 21 - Spaghetti with meat sauce, tossed salad, garlic roll and peaches

July 22 - Country fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, roll and pineapple

July 23 - Fish and potatoes, carrot/raisin salad, muffin and fruit mix.

Veterans Corner

Purple Heart, POW medals OK'd for Bataan death march survivor

By Andy Fautheree

SUN Columnist

I am very excited to announce John Walker, of Pagosa Springs, has been awarded The Purple Heart and Prisoner of War medals, almost 60 years after he suffered many physical and emotional abuses as a Japanese prisoner of war during World War II.

John came to me last year and inquired if he might be eligible for the Purple Heart medal for his injuries as a prisoner of war. I was familiar with John's military history and had a complete file on him in this office.

Death march survivor

John was one of the many soldiers who had to surrender in the Philippines in the early days of World War II when the Japanese overwhelmed their defenses. He subsequently was forced to walk on the infamous Bataan Death March where reportedly some 10,000 of his fellow soldiers died from execution, brutality, lack of medical aid, exhaustion and lack of water or nutrition.

John survived this ordeal while he watched his fellow soldiers dropping all along the way. I believe the march was over 100 miles in severe heat conditions in the jungles of the Philippines.

Prisoner of war

He was interned in Japanese POW Camp O'Donnell, and then eventually transported on a Japanese prisoner of war ship where many more died en route back to the Japanese homeland. John told me every morning his captors would come for the bodies of those soldiers who died during the night and take them up on deck where they were thrown overboard.

He spent the duration of World War II as a slave laborer in a copper mine in Japan and, as I recall, said he weighed well under 100 pounds when he was liberated at the end of the war.

No Purple Heart

As a consequence of his wartime injuries and illnesses during captivity, the VA awarded John 100-percent disability some years ago. But, he had never received a Purple Heart for his injuries. Military records did not clearly indicate he was actually injured by the enemy during all those years of imprisonment.

Campbell intercedes

I had made several inquiries on his behalf with the Department of Defense and Military Personnel Records Center to obtain a Purple Heart medal for him, but was unsuccessful. Late last year I made an official request to Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell to intercede in this request.

Sen. Campbell responded to my request on several occasions with follow-up information on his attention to the matter with the Department of Defense.

I was notified by Sen. Campbell's Durango office last Friday that they had received the Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War medals for John Walker, as awarded by the President of the United States. Very exciting news indeed.

At the time of this writing, I was unable to contact John to tell him about the award. After waiting almost 60 years, I'm sure this will be very welcome news.

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

Chamber News

A real car wash is on our agenda this year

By Sally Hameister

We are very happy to say we are offering a free full car wash this year as opposed to the "windshield wash" we were forced to offer last year due to the severe drought conditions.

I have chatted with Carrie Campbell at Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation, and she has given her blessing for this annual event.

This is our little way of thanking you for your support and confidence throughout the year and having some fun at the same time. I assure you that we will conduct a very "responsible" car wash, conserving as much water as possible while allowing you to leave with a cleaner vehicle than the one you drove in.

On one hand, we don't pretend to be professionals, you understand, but on the other hand, who could argue with the price? Sure our member car wash businesses might give you a much slicker more complete wash, but you wouldn't have the pleasure of our company, and who could put a price on that kind of bliss, right?

Please join us at the Visitor Center Saturday for our Membership Appreciation Car Wash, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Your board directors, spouses and staff will be at your service with rags, sponges, buckets, hoses and snappy repartee - well, maybe not the snappy repartee. As always, you will be given the opportunity to win a free year's Chamber membership for five buckaroos. Not a bad investment for the prize.

Stop by Saturday to say hello and allow us to thank you for making our Chamber what it is today - simply some kinda wonderful.

Music in the Mountains

Monday night, we are so proud to announce, is the first of three concerts presented by Music in the Mountains right here in Pagosa Springs at the stunning BootJack Ranch.

One of the top violinists in the world, Vadim Gluzman, will appear accompanied by his wife, pianist Angela Yoffe, with a marvelous program played on a 1690 Stradivari violin once owned by the late Leopold Auer. We are in for a fabulous program which will feature pieces by Mozart, Prokofiev, Schnittke, Bartok, Bloch and Ravel - something for everyone, to be sure.

There are a few tickets left for the July 21 and 25 shows, and the Aug. 1 show is sold out. Tickets are $35 for the remaining available concerts, and all three will begin at 7 p.m. While we're on the subject, for those of you lucky devils who will be attending any and all concerts, it is suggested you arrive at least 20-30 minutes early. There will be a shuttle service to the performance tent from the parking lots, and you definitely don't want to miss a second of the music.

There will be a cash bar serving wine, soft drinks, water and coffee from WolfTracks Bookstore and Coffee Company as well as a festival gift shop on site. The Chamber of Commerce is the only ticket outlet for Music in the Mountains, so please stop by soon to pick up your tickets so you won't miss out on this opportunity. Please give Doug a call at 264-2360 with questions. Just so you know, we can't hold tickets for you this year, but you can purchase them over the phone with a credit card if you like.

Boom, Bust and Battle

Tomorrow and Saturday you will be afforded the opportunity to attend the latest FoPA production, Boom, Bust and Battle.

This show will feature bits and pieces representative of entertainment from the 1920s through the 1940s. Over 30 performers, some troopers and some new to the stage, will be featured along with a seven-piece orchestra, dancing girls, slapstick humor and some of the most popular songs of these three decades.

Don't miss this opportunity to travel down memory lane with some of our local performers and support a great cause at the same time.

"The Johns" - Graves and Porter - are co-producing this extravaganza at Parish Hall on Lewis Street at 7:30 p.m. both days. Advance tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $6 for students and can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce and WolfTracks Bookstore and Coffee Company. Tickets at the door will be $15.

Lee Sterling Chili Taste

Those of us who knew, loved and miss our favorite curmudgeon are especially pleased to learn about the first annual Lee Sterling Chili Taste, taking place 4-9 p.m. July 31 in conjunction with the Taste of Pagosa. This event is designed to honor Lee Sterling, showcase the chili cook-off and spice up the Taste of Pagosa.

This is a great opportunity to show off your best red or green chili for fun, notoriety and amazing prizes. You will need to bring a four-quart chili crock and a backup supply. Please call Heather at 731-1146 or Carrie at 264-9042 for more information. This event is generously sponsored by The Pagosa Springs SUN.

Dunkin' booth

If you have been seeking devious revenge upon some folks in town, your time has arrived.

You will soon have the delicious opportunity to dunk a number of people who have agreed to be dunked during the county fair.

The dunking booth will be open 4-9 p.m. July 31, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

We're talkin' some great potential dunkees here - county commissioners, realtors, school principals, business owners, fire and police department representatives, Chamber of Commerce employees, town officials ... well, I could go on and on.

Suffice it to say that it will act as a fabulous catharsis and will save you thousands of dollars on therapy sessions concerning anger control. There will be a schedule posted at a later date and probably some posters that will give you more specific information about who and when you will be able to dunk the victim of your choice. I may divulge a few names next week, so don't miss the next installment.

For more information, call Carrie at 264-9042.

Demolition Derby

The call is out for all cars, drivers and fans for the 2003 Demolition Derby to be held Aug. 3.

Even compact cars will have their own division this year, so pick up your entry packets at the County Extension office or at Joy Automotive on Bastille Drive.

Call 731-9444 or 731-1146 for more information about the 2003 derby.

Free counseling

Among your Chamber benefits, free business counseling would have to be right up there as one of the most valuable.

Since we are all about facilitating the success of your business, what could be better than counsel from an expert on the ins and outs of beginning and maintaining a successful trade?

We have just the thing for you with Joe Keck, director of the Small Business Development Center at Fort Lewis College, who visits us once a month to offer free advice and counseling to those who would like it.

Joe will visit us July 22, and all you have to do is give Doug a call at 264-2360 to set up an appointment. Traditionally Joe begins his appointments at 9 a.m. and is pretty flexible about the last appointment of the day.

Ride the Weminuche

United Way of Southwest Colorado is holding its second annual Ride the Weminuche Trail Ride at the historic, beautiful Poma Ranch Aug. 9 beginning at 9 a.m.

This is a perfect opportunity for the entire family to see the San Juan Mountains and the Weminuche on horseback, watch the wildlife, enjoy a delicious chuckwagon lunch and raise money to support our community.

Price of admission includes a two-hour ride, a lunch featuring brisket, chicken, ribs and beans, a live auction and music, followed by yet another two-hour adventure.

You are invited to join this group for just lunch if you choose (which I do) to enjoy the great company and breathtaking views surrounding the Poma Ranch, 27 miles north of U.S. 160 on Piedra Road.

Rides will be guided or unguided, and the fee is $55 if you bring your own horse and $95 if you need to rent one. The registration fee includes lunch.

To register or for more information, call Kathi DeClark at 970-946-2057.

Outreach council benefit

The Pagosa Outreach Council (Episcopal, Methodist and Catholic Churches) is sponsoring an afternoon of fun and games (literally) to raise funds for those in our community who could use a little help.

You are invited to come to the PLPOA Vista Clubhouse located on Port Avenue 1-5 p.m. Aug. 8 to enjoy bridge, pinochle and/or Mah Jong with the foursome of your choosing, if you like, or just to play with new partners.

You can buy your tickets at the Chamber of Commerce or at the Episcopal, Catholic and Methodist churches for $10 which also includes refreshments. For details, call Mary at 731-5121 or Patti at 731-5213.

Home and garden tour

The third annual Pagosa Springs Arts Council Home and Garden Tour will take place noon-5 p.m. July 27.

Six gracious hosts will welcome you into their homes for a tour sure to inspire you to redecorate your home and redesign your garden.

Each home offers something distinctly different and all offer their own unique beauty. Natural and xeriscape landscaping, ponds, ornamental streams, atriums, western, Southwestern and Native American décor, a barn with guest quarters, antique furnishings and a dream kitchen are just a few of the things you can expect to see on this tour.

One of the great things about this tour is that you can visit as many or as few homes as you like on your own schedule and in whatever order you choose. It is requested that you carpool whenever possible to accommodate easier parking and traffic. You also will be asked to remove your shoes or use the paper shoe covers provided when you enter these homes.

Ticket price is $10, and the deadline for purchase is end of the work day July 25. Please call Marti at 731-9770 for more information.

Visitor stats

The good news is that pretty much all of our numbers are up this year compared to last, and that is indeed music to the ears for a community which lives and breathes by tourism numbers.

We have seen 1,045 more people year-to-date at the Visitor Center than last year, and our Web site visits have gone from 33,442 in June last year to 35,596 this year, up 2,154.

Speaking of our Web site, I ran into a visitor just last night who went into near paroxysm about how wonderful our Web site is. She said it is the best she has ever seen, and a terrific bonus for all our member businesses. I promise these remarks came completely unsolicited with no encouragement whatsoever from me - promise. But I digress: back to stats.

The numbers are up, but the geographical patterns remain much the same as they have in the past. That is to say that Texas leads the pack with 2,352 visitors, Colorado is in second place at 1,810, New Mexico comes in third with 1,034, Arizona is fourth with 717 and Oklahoma takes fifth place with 483. California was not far behind Oklahoma with 435, and Florida, Kansas, Louisiana and Montana all came in at over 200.

We have seen 48 guests from England, 73 from Germany and 73 Canadians.

I'm always fascinated with the "Other" category which means a combination of people who visited from places other than the U.S. and the aforementioned other countries.

Visiting family and the Fairfield timeshares continue to be the most frequent answers in the "How did you hear about us?" category. At any rate, the increased numbers are good for all of us, and we can hope that they will continue to rise to fantastic levels.


How sweet it is to welcome three new members, 11 business renewals and three associate members. Those three on each end make attractive bookmarks, don't you agree?

We first welcome Bill Gowing who brings us SouthWest Equine Shelters. These good folks specialize in custom-built barns, arenas, sheds and outbuildings. All of these structures are built with rough-sawn lumber and pro-panel metal roofs. To learn more about SouthWest Equine Shelters, give Bill a call at 731-3563. We are grateful to Chamber Diplomat and old friend, Kim Moore for recruiting this business and have already handed Kim a free SunDowner pass with our gratitude.

Collette F. O'Brien joins us next with AmeriSpec Home Inspection Service with offices in her home. AmeriSpec Home Inspection Service provides a complete line of home inspection services as well as construction reviews, follow-ups on completed repairs and sell pre-listing inspections. To learn more about how Collette can help you, please give her a call at (970) 759-6741.

Kurt and Danna Laverty join us next with L-Z Ranch Cabins on East U.S. 160, just 1.5 miles and two minutes east of town and 25 minutes to Wolf Creek Ski Area. These are charming log cabins overlooking the San Juan River on a working ranch with fishing as an option. Two units with one bedroom, full kitchen and bath sleep four to six. Give them a call for more information at 264-5548.

Our business renewals this week include Gary Hodges with Grandview Cabins & RV in South Fork; Carrie Campbell with Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District; Tom D. Wood with Tom's Small Haul; Alan Schutz with the Pagosa Springs Golf Club; Jerry Driesens with Associated Brokers/Jerry Driesens Real Estate; Mellane Lee, executive officer, Pagosa Springs Area Association of Realtors; Teddy Sony, Inc. with Domino's Pizza ; Louise Jagger with Chimney Rock Restaurant; Scott Allen with Mountain Snapshots and Susan Neder with Colorado Land Title Company, LLC.

Our associate member renewals this week are valued, longtime Diplomats, Dick and Lorraine Raymond; valued and more recent Diplomat, Charlotte Overley and husband, David; and our old pal in Weatherford, Texas, Sylvia Murray. We're glad that Sylvia's move hasn't affected her Diplomat status, and we look forward to her next visit.


Library News

Local connection to video on life of Johann S. Bach

By Lenore Bright

SUN Columnist

Carol Frakes brought us an award winning video produced by her son, Tim, entitled "Glory to God Alone: The Life of J.S. Bach."

Johann Sebastian Bach composed more than 3,000 pieces of music; 2,000 have been preserved and passed down.

Frakes traveled to Germany to make this video of Bach's life. Carol also brought Tim's written diary of his trip to do the filming. Both may be checked out.

Friends of library

New in town? Let me tell you about the strong support the library receives from a dedicated group of friends who have helped build, furnish and maintain the library these many years.

Friends of the Library underwrite special programs, and help fund unusual needs. Members volunteer for different projects, and in general provide resources that allow us to give better service to our patrons.

Their big fund-raiser is the annual book sale. The sale is held in conjunction with the group annual meeting. On Friday night, Aug. 15, the Friends will hold their very short meeting while enjoying food and drink. Then they have first chance at the books.

On Saturday morning, a public sale is held. This all takes place at the Extension Building at the fairgrounds on U.S.84.

Annual dues are $10 for a family, $5 for an individual. You may join and pay dues at the library any time from now until that night. We appreciate you making reservations so we know how much food to prepare. We also appreciate offers to bring appetizers. For more information call 264-2209.


Financial help for the building fund came from Tess Noel Baker. Patty Sterling donated in memory of Lee. Our thanks for the gifts and materials from Karen Anderson, and help from Barry Thomas and David Bright.

Chews to Read winners

Writing and coloring contests: Leslie Baughman, Breezy Bryant, Emily Bryant, Julia LeLievre, Mele LeLievere, Derek Lorenzen, Jennifer Mueller, Matthew Mundall, Anne Townsend, Colby Anderson-Andresen, Keaton Anderson, James Berndt, Colton Castro, Faith Heitz, MacKenzie Heitz, Taylor Heitz, Mark Mundall, Mattisen Mundall, Meghan Mundall, Mickey Silva, Sylvia Silva, Olivia Valencia and Kudra Wagner.

Lollipop contest: Kaycee Bennett, Tristen Bennett, James Berndt, Joey Berndt, Savannah Brown, Breezy Bryant, Emily Bryant, Megan Bryant, Colton Castro, Kerrington Castro, Brock Cordova, Trenton Cordova, Zack Curvey, Angie Gallegos, Julia LeLievre, Mele LeLievre, Nacole Martinez, Mark Mundall, Matthew Mundall, Mattisen Mundall, Meghan Mundall, Amanda Ortel, Walker Powe, Delayne Sanchez, Dean Scott, Spence Scott, Anne Townsend and Barak Townsend.

Readers of the week: Leslie Baughman, Katie Blue, Zackary Curvey, Trace Gross, MacKenzie Heitz, Shaun Jackson, Mele LeLievere, Mark Mundall, Annika Piccaro, Ayriana Rackham, Gabriel Rael and Breanna Voorhis.

Which park?

Wow! This brings to a close the busy summer reading program. Don't forget to turn in all of your reading contracts by Saturday, July 19.

The party will be held at South Pagosa Park three blocks down 8th Street from the library toward the high school. Readers who have met their contract will receive prize packets that day.

Barb Draper tells us it is a watermelon party so be wearing or carrying something with a watermelon theme to help celebrate a successful summer program.

South Pagosa Park has a nice shady canopy and a playground close to the library - a fine place for a party. See you there 11 a.m. July 23.


Business News


New owners Mike and Martha McMullen bought Monograms Plus in April after moving here from Longview, Texas because they "fell in love with the area and great people."

The McMullens decided to buy Monograms Plus because they weren't ready to retire and wanted the challenge of learning something new.

Monograms Plus does custom embroideries for shirts, hats, jackets, linens and many other types of clothing and fabrics.

Businesses can use custom embroidery as an effective advertising tool.

Monograms Plus produces letter jackets, and many items in stock are also available for purchase including merchandise with high school team logos.

The McMullen's top priority is customer service and satisfaction with a guarantee that all work will be done in a timely fashion.

The store is located at 510 San Juan St. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Phone 264-5050.




Adams State grads

Four Pagosa Springs residents graduated at Adams State College's its Spring Commencement May 10.

Pagosa Springs graduates were: Matthew Scavezze, B.A. arts-art/photography, art/painting, and art/design; Justin Scott Cowan, B.A. special education; Debra Nobles, B.A. school counseling; and Donald M. Weller, B.S. special education. The ceremony took place on campus in Alamosa, Colo.


Stan and Linda Gill of Pagosa Springs are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Makina, to Eric Quezada, son of Manuel and Mary Ellen Quezada of Pagosa Springs. An Aug. 23 wedding is planned.




Precision shooting lands Pagosa man on world team

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Pagosan Andy Fautheree might have been born in the 20th century, but his passions lie in the 19th - especially 19th century rifles.

"I'm just a big kid still playing cowboys and Indians," he said.

For the last 30 or 40 years he's been building reproduction Kentucky single shot black powder rifles first assembled in the 1800s. He started with muzzleloaders. Now, he uses black powder cartridge guns.

For fun, he competes in long-range shooting events - firing at targets as far as 1,000 yards away. At 1,000 yards, the equivalent of ten football fields put end to end, his 6-by-6 foot target is nothing but a speck.

"You don't even see where you hit," he said. "People are out there in trenches working the targets. They lower the target. They mark it with a plug and send the target back up. You actually look through a spotting scope to see where you hit."

Fautheree owns several records and more than one senior national championship. But his biggest thrill came last August when he learned, at age 64, he'd made the world championship black powder cartridge long range team. "This is the biggest thing I've ever competed in," he said.

Fautheree, along with the other 11 team members, qualified for the world event at the national long range championships at the National Rifle Association Whittington Center in Raton, N.M.

"I only decided about 10 minutes before the shooting competition started that I was going to try out," he said. Competitors had to declare beforehand if they were going for a spot on the world team because international rules are a little different from American standards, a little more challenging.

At the national championships, shooters always fire from a prone position, but are allowed to use primitive gun rests made of crossed sticks. To compete for the world team, the gun had to be hand-held.

In this game - where competitors earn points for hitting a targeting a certain amount of time - a shaky hand can make a huge difference. As can gusting wind. Or a badly weighed bullet. An illusion in the dust. Everything revolves around consistency and precision.

"Every shot has to be fired as close to every other shot as possible," Fautheree said.

These 1880s-style guns - Fautheree will be using a Winchester Model 1885 Single Shot Hi-wall at the world championship - are loaded with 45-caliber bullets weighing approximately 550 grains, much heavier than modern bullets. The bullet, along with about 100 grains of black powder, is loaded into a brass cartridge and fired. The bullet leaves the barrel at a velocity of about 1,300 feet per second, compared to a modern rifle cartridge at approximately 3,000 feet per second.

At a distance of 1,000 yards, the bullet travels in an arc, Fautheree said. In fact, the bullet might rise and fall 50-75 feet before hitting the target. To achieve any success at all, the rifle is fired at an incline. Fired level with the earth, the bullet would hit the ground before ever striking the target.

Wind and mirage also impact the path of the shot.

Wind is perhaps the most challenging element of condition. "A 5-mile-per hour wind will move the impact of the bullet at 1,000 yards four to five feet," he said. A wind gusting 25 to 30 miles per hour can make hitting the target consistently a near impossibility.

Mirage is an illusion created by heat waves rising off a hot surface. In long-range competition the mirage can actually be enough to distort the location of the target. It, however, has its benefits for the wilier shooters.

"The mirage actually tells us what the wind is doing," Fautheree said. By watching the flickers in the mirage an experienced shooter can see a change coming in the conditions before it's shown in the wind flags. It's what makes experience sometimes more important than youth for this sport.

Shooters use spotting scopes set up next to the rifle to check conditions. However, for the actual shot, they can use only the precision iron sights original to the 1800s guns.

Fautheree, who has come close to winning the overall championships in the past, had to decide whether or not to make it even harder on himself to reach that goal in 2002. In the end, he finished in the top 10 percent of shooters, failed to claim the top spot, but earned a trip to England for the world event.

"I was shooting a brand new rifle I'd never used," he said. "The first day I shot the worst of everybody there. The second day I had a different load and I shot the best of everybody there. The average was good enough to make the team."

As a team member, he receives an all-expense paid trip to the event in Bisby, England, courtesy of the National Rifle Association. When they arrive at the end of August, their first task will be making the final cut. Through another round of tryouts, the American team will drop to eight. Only then will they have a chance to take on the competition.

"None of us have ever been," he said. "We know nothing about the range or conditions." Still, Fautheree said, he believes the Americans will have the advantage.

In New Mexico the hot, dry conditions worsen the effects of mirage and fouling. Fouling occurs when the powder residue from the shot begins to coat the inside of the barrel. If allowed to build up, this residue reduces the accuracy and consistency of the rifle.

"A foul barrel will start firing shots all over the place," he said.

The hot, dry conditions of the desert actually make fouling worse. In England, where conditions should be cool and damp, the American team should be even more accurate at the long distances of a Creedmoor match.

The Creedmoor match got its start in 1874 in America.

"At the time," Fautheree said, "the Irish long range shooting teams were the best in the world. They issued a challenge to American teams. They would come here and compete against any team American could put up."

Accepting the challenge, the Americans put together a long-range rifle team and invited the Irish to the Creedmoor range for the competition. The targets were set at 1,000 yards and the Americans managed to squeeze out the victory.

As competitors did 129 years ago, Fautheree and the other Americans will make all their own bullets. They must for any competition, but due to the airlines' increased security, they will be forced to actually assemble the bullets in England.

"I will take the bullets, cases, primers and all my reloading tools to England and buy the black powder over there," he said. It will take him a good half of a day to prepare the cartridges before ever setting foot on the course.

Each shooter will need between 250 and 300 completed cartridges to finish the competition.

"It's just literally the funnest game there is," he said. "I've known some of the other shooters for 20-30 years. A lot of us know each other, a lot are lifelong friends, and I enjoy the swapping and sharing of ideas and shooting things."


Pagosa's Past

Railroad brought a varied crew to the San Juans

By John M. Motter

PREVIEW Columnist

During the late 1870s and early 1880s, the San Juan Basin was just being settled.

The whole region, from Alamosa to Utah, was a wild and woolly place, the last home for many a desperado chased from more settled climates back east. Most of the settlers were honest, hard-working family men. Most, but not all.

Bars, hard liquor, and harder men were everywhere. Most men packed six guns and were not afraid to use them.

Law enforcement existed in the larger settlements, but the space in between was huge. We recently described the shooting of a man named Maxwell in front of Pagosa Springs' Rosebud saloon as seen through the incredulous eyes of a 13-year-old girl, Daisy Opdycke.

Adding fuel to the incendiary mix was the coming of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. Building a railroad required massive numbers of men. Those in charge of hiring the men were looking at muscle, not Sunday School attendance.

And so, as the rails progressed from Denver to Durango, work camps led the way. The camps were full of men, hard working, undisciplined, and with money in their pockets; money hard to spend in the wilderness settings of their labor camps.

Of course, in a country whose economy was fueled by the laws of supply and demand, a group of entrepreneurs emerged eager to supply the demands of the workers. In a cruder sense, their goal was to separate the workers from their money through fair means or foul.

And so, as the railroad marched westward through La Veta, Fort Garland, Alamosa, Antonito, across Cumbres Pass to Chama, then to Amargo, Dulce, Arboles and on to Durango, gamblers, gunmen, liquor salesmen, prostitutes and con men of every description marched with them.

Completion of the line from Denver to Durango required several years.

Construction started south from Denver in March of 1871, reached Colorado Springs in January of 1872 and Pueblo in June of 1872. From Pueblo, the railroad branched out. The branch which eventually reached Durango left Cuchara Junction in 1876, reached Alamosa - a newly created railroad town - in 1878, and Durango - another newly built railroad town - in 1881.

Early in 1879, after the railroad reached Alamosa, three routes were surveyed across the San Juan Mountains.

One route led up the South Fork of the Rio Grande to South Fork Pass (Silver Pass?) to the San Juan River.

A second route went to the head of the Rio Grande River and across Stony Pass and down Cunningham Gulch to the Animas River just above Silverton.

The third route followed the Conejos River for a distance, then crossed Cumbres Pass. Cumbres was already being used as a wagon route at that time. Cumbres was chosen and that is where the rails went.

While tracks were being laid across Cumbres and into the San Juan Basin, stage coaches and freighters hurried between where-ever the end of the line happened to be and the San Juan gold camps located further west. Much of that freight, along with a certain flotsam of humanity, passed through Pagosa Springs.

A few of the more responsible settlers - and most settlers were responsible citizens - left us eye witness accounts of the journey.

One of those accounts was dictated in later life by Harry Jackson, who came to the San Juans as a young blacksmith in 1881.

With another young blacksmith, Fred Jones, Jackson decided to move from Colorado Springs to the San Juans. The San Juans were being highly promoted at the time.

At that time, the railroad ended at Amargo, a community located between today's Dulce and Chama. "Amargo was then a wild and woolly town, being filled with gamblers, saloon men, and dance hall people, who preyed upon the hardworking men," Jackson said.

Before reaching Amargo, Jackson experienced almost more excitement than he could stand.

"I came over Toltec Gorge on one of the first trains that left Alamosa for Amargo," Jackson wrote, "and had a narrow escape. The end coach jumped the track and as it bumped over the ties we all looked for a way to get out. Fortunately the train was running very slow and the car I was in turned over and fell on its right side against the bank; had it fallen to the left it would have gone down a thousand feet into the gorge, and I would not be here telling this tale."

Jackson described Amargo this way: "In the short time I was in Amargo thirteen people were killed in shooting scrapes; it got so when we heard a shot in the night we did not pay much attention. One day I sat at the back of our shop looking over my revolver, a six-shooter I had just bought. I had never fired it and wanted to hear the sound of it, so I fired the gun in rapid succession six times. Immediately half the town was around the shop and wanted to know where the killing was. A deputy sheriff named Charles A. Johnson (who later became a noted criminal lawyer in the San Juan Country) took the gun away from me and threatened to arrest me and put me in the jail at Chama for disturbing the peace, if such a thing was possible short of murder in Amargo."

Motter's comment: More next week from Jackson and his eyewitness account of Amargo. It should be noted that Amargo is no more, not so much as a rotten old board. It formerly stood along U.S. 64 between today's Lumberton and Monero (not much left of Monero, either). I have never been able to discover the location of Amargo's cemetery. With so much shooting reported, they had to put the bodies somewhere.



What price privacy?

It is no secret laws are created that, while well intended, do not function as their creators or supporters originally imagined they would. Sometimes, a law is well drawn in and of itself, yet interacts with other law with negative results - witness the Colorado trio of TABOR, Gallagher and Amendment 23 whose interaction could put the state on the brink of fiscal disaster. Some laws are, quite simply, badly thought out and poorly written.

The task of government is difficult, finding the line between the protection of individual liberty and the determination of the greatest good for the greatest number. Sometimes the line is discovered; other times, it disappears in the dust.

An example of the latter: Since April, we've begun to see the effects of federal legislation that illustrates the blurring of the line between individual rights and the public good. It is an example of legislation enacted for what, on the surface, are all the right reasons but that, in its evolution and implementation, turns corners into potentially sour territory.

The legislation in question: the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act - HIPAA, for short. It is a privacy regulation that has spawned numerous health-industry practices - some patently absurd, some dangerous with regard to the public's right and need to know. It was originally designed to streamline medical billing codes to aid the tracking of health care and hasten billing and processing of insurance claims. Then it mutated.

Following HIPAA's creation in 1996, federal officials began to amend the act, adding privacy provisions giving patients more control over health information. With this came serious penalties for providers who violate HIPAA. As a result, many of us have already encountered HIPAA- being asked to sign privacy statements at pharmacies, doctors' offices, hospitals.

What the act has done is seriously limit - in some cases in laughable fashion - the ability to obtain information. Without signed consent forms, emergency medical services and hospitals are handcuffed regarding the information they can release to the media in cases of accident and disaster, information the public often benefits from knowing. The process for obtaining knowledge is Kafkaesque. Reporters can obtain only very limited information about a victim or patient, and then only if the name is known. The hitch: no one in the health field can release the name. Birth notices can no longer be freely sent to publications from hospitals without paperwork being completed by parents.

But, HIPAA goes beyond that, into a surreal universe. Fearing penalties, some healthcare providers and entities have taken interpretation of the act to extremes (some to aid an existing reluctance to provide information). Charts at hospitals will be kept face down, computer screens blocked from casual observation.There are cases in which family members might not receive information about loved ones who are victims of illness and accident, scenarios in which uninvited visits to patients in hospitals will be turned away; there are those who interpret the regulations to mean, without proper forms on record, cards and flowers can't be sent to a patient's room if it means revealing the patient is in the hospital. Parents might not be able to obtain medical insurance information about their own grown children. A spouse might need his or her mate's written permission to discuss health coverage with an insurance company.

All of these things can happen if patients do not understand the regulations and do not sign particular forms. That is, if they are conscious and can do so.

From a desire to streamline billing computer codes to what? And in what other areas could similar things occur?

What have we lost in the name of "privacy?"

What do we lose each day that bureaucrats set to work to improve our lives?


Karl Isberg


Pacing Pagosa

From incongruity to shame


By Richard Walter

Incongruous is one of those large words with a little meaning: In short, it indicates an inconsistency. Often, there is humor therein.

For example, on Sunday I saw a rental truck pulling a trailer. What's unusual about that?

The truck was a Budget rental, the trailer a U-Haul.

To make the scene even more incongruous, the truck bore an advisory legend: "Never put the cat and dog in the same box."

Incongruity can result from location. The oldest continually operated barbershop in town, Mullins Barbershop, now doing business as Hair Tender, has a relatively new next door neighbor with the name Coolheads.

Incongruous may not be exactly the name for the following, but it will suffice.

On Sunday, an extended cab pickup with Texas license plates, towing a mobile home, stopped dead in the eastbound outer lane of San Juan Street snarling traffic.

For a few moments the driver just sat there and then it became evident he was attempting to get into a service station and could not do so headed the way he was.

So, he calmly pulled over into the two oncoming lanes and then made a U-turn back across the street into the outer pump line. This time, the driver stopped with the trailer still in the street and still blocking the outside lane. But, he got his fuel.

The idea of incongruity might, with a stretch of the imagination, even be applied to the placement of advertisements in this newspaper.

It was pointed out to me that last week we had an ad for excavation services adjacent to one which offered help in solving pregnancy problems.

And, while dealing with advertisements, let us not forget there are many people out there who cannot distinguish the difference between an ad and a news item.

It is a regular thing to have a person come into the office to "run an ad," send them to an ad representative for assistance, and have that person find out they really want to put in an item about their son or daughter graduating from college or taking part in a military operation of significance.

Incongruity is having a street called a boulevard when it is barely passable right now, i.e., Hot Springs Boulevard. The number of lost wheel covers, broken springs and broken shocks is certainly incongruent with the name of the thoroughfare.

I find incongruity in calling the supermarket in Country Center mall the "new" City Market. When does new wear off. I've had my "new" car as long as that market has been open and I would certainly no longer call it "new."

If we have to distinguish between the two markets of the same firm, why not use the locators "downtown" and "west." Everyone would know which you were referring to.

Finally, a letter to the editor urges residents to utilize the recycling baskets in the post office. On Sunday afternoon the area inside looked like a tornado's wake. All garbage cans and recycling bins were overflowing, counters were loaded, and the floor covered.

No incongruity here - just shame!




90 years ago

Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era files of July 18, 1913

The town council decided at its last meeting that the state law prohibiting boys under 21 from frequenting pool halls must be strictly enforced.

Those who imagine that Pagosa Springs will go wet at the next election have another guess coming. There is little prospect of the town going wet until the character of the town's population changes.

Hatcher Hardware Company is preparing to move its warehouse near the depot to the lately made vacant ground at the rear of the store. William Nickell has the contract to do the work.

Judge Caldwell has decided to move his residence out of the park, where it was placed by the flood, to its former location on Hermosa Street.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of July 20, 1928

The county officials yesterday moved to the old court house building, where they will be domiciled until the new court house is completed.

About 140 head of cattle were loaded at Aztec yesterday and will arrive here tonight. They were purchased by Fred Catchpole and will be placed in his pasture on the Little Blanco.

A large aeroplane passed over Pagosa Springs Saturday morning enroute to Durango.

Prohibition Agent Lukens of Durango and Sheriff Frank Matthews of Pagosa Springs on Tuesday located a still in Ignacio Canon on the lower Piedra and arrested the owner. He was bound over to the district court in the sum of $500.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of July 17, 1953

The seriousness of the grasshopper infestation is being brought more vividly to the attention of landowners and stockmen this past week with ever increasing swarms of the insects. Many ranchers are going ahead with their own private war against the 'hoppers while others are working in an effort to get some type of government aid.

Work on the so-called temporary bridge is continuing and from all indications will be completed in a very few days. The bridge is being built across the San Juan to allow auto traffic between the two sides of the river.

The old bridge has been completely torn down and the usable portions salvaged. Part of the planking was used for a temporary foot bridge across the river.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of July 20, 1978

Construction work throughout the county is heavy this summer. There are many homes being built and in addition there is highway construction on Wolf Creek Pass, a large addition is being made to Pagosa Lodge and several miles of roads are being built and surfaced at Eaton's Pagosa.

Ruby Sisson was presented with a plaque honoring her for her many years of service to the school district as a teacher by Charles Formwalt, president of the school board. Mrs. Sisson was also given a check for her unused days of sick leave at the same time.

The high temperature of the year, 89 degrees, was recorded at the U.S. Weather Observation station in Pagosa Springs last Friday.