July 24, 2003 
Front Page

Bolt fire reaches 1,946 acres; 42 percent contained

11 blazes scattered through forest district

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

The U.S. Forest Service is monitoring 11 fires in Pagosa Country.

The biggest, the Bolt Fire, located about six miles southeast of Chimney Rock Archeological Area, reached 1,946 acres Wednesday. It is 42 percent contained.

Tom Lavagnino, of the Oregon and California Interagency Incident Management Team, said 453 people are currently assigned to the fire. That includes: the type II management team, four Hot Shot crews, 14 hand crews, 13 fire engines, seven bull dozers, five water tankers, two archaeologists and one type II helicopter.

Fire Chief Warren Grams said as of Tuesday the Pagosa Fire Protection District had three tankers, one brush truck and eight firefighters assisting with the Bolt Fire. They are on-duty from 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m. each day.

Additional air resources are also available if needed.

"Fire crews and dozers are making good progress in their efforts to line the fire and meet the objectives of minimizing the fire size and protecting private lands while providing for firefighter and public safety," Lavagnino said.

"Resources have now been committed to the north end of the fire on forest service land. There are no immediate threats to structures," he added.

The Bolt Fire was started by a lightning strike July 15. It is located on Southern Ute Tribal lands, forest service lands and various parcels of private land.

The 235-acre Devil Creek Fire, located 16.5 air miles west of Pagosa Springs and 1.5 miles north of U.S. 160 in the Pagosa Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest, has been contained. Incident Commander Rod Weeks declared the fire contained July 22.

Crews will continue to mop up hot spots within the fire's perimeter.

For safety reasons, two national forest roads in that area, Devil Mountain Road (Forest Service Road 626) and Devil Creek Road (Forest Service Road 627), remain closed at their intersection with U.S. 160.

The Devil Creek Fire started July 15.

The other nine fires are all under two acres. Most are contained and remain under aerial surveillance.

The Rio Blanco I and II fires, both under an acre, located about 14 air miles east of Pagosa Springs in the San Juan Wilderness, and the Elk Park Fire, located within the Weminuche Wilderness, are being monitored as wildland use fires.

According to the Pagosa Ranger District Office, wildland use fires are allowed to burn to give fire a chance to play its role in the ecosystem by removing dead and down fuels, improving wildlife habitat and forage and creating structural diversity in the forest.

Firefighters are building lines around parts of the Rainbow Fire, a one-acre fire located west of the West Fork Trail near the confluence of West Fork and Beaver Creek within the Weminuche Wilderness.

Tuesday afternoon's thunderstorms caused only one, small fire start. However, once clouds rolled over again Wednesday, the firefighters were rolling again with numerous reports of lightning strikes around the area.


Health service restructuring begins

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Reorganization of the Upper San Juan Health Service District has begun.

According to a news release from the District, the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center remains open, Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Dr. Guy Paquet, a board certified physician from Dolores, is working for the district in an interim capacity. Paquet is a retired family practice physician.

District Manager Dee Jackson said Paquet saw 26 patients Monday and 23 on Tuesday. Dr. Mark Wienpahl also continues to work for the district as the transition begins.

Jackson said the plan is to work toward a clinic structure as presented to the district by consultant Bob Bohlmann. Under that plan, the district will eventually staff the clinic with one physician and two physician assistants. At the moment, resumes are being gathered to fill those positions.

"It will take me about three months to really do a good job finding a permanent physician, to find a good mesh with the district, a good mesh with the community," she said. After the contracts are signed, it will probably take another two months for the physician to arrive if that person has to close up practice somewhere else. Jackson is also collecting resumes on physician assistants.

The urgent care clinic is scheduled to be opened and fully operational starting Saturday. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday.

Dr. Roderic D. Gottula, of Parker, will serve as the locum physician for urgent care and after hours calls both this weekend and the weekend of Aug. 1. Gottula is board certified and currently employed by University Hospital of Denver.

Jackson said she is currently working with six different companies that provided locums, substitute or fill-in doctors, to try to find the best fit. The health service district board approved a motion to hire locum doctors to give Pagosa Springs weekend physician coverage back in May. It's been a difficult program to get started, however, with locums calling to cancel on at least three separate weekends.

Jackson said she now has locums scheduled to cover four of the next seven weeks. As for the past, she said she would not comment.

EMS staffing

On the other side of the street, Emergency Medical Services continues to operate using six full-time staff members and filling in the remaining spots with part-time EMTs and EVOs ( Emergency Vehicle Operators).

Jackson said the district currently employs five paramedics: operations manager Kathy Conway, Karl Macht, Crystal Conghlin, Terri Clifford and Beau Mattison. However, both Clifford and Macht are currently on medical leave.

Mattison is a recent hire. According to the district news release, he has extensive experience with Englewood and Parker County Emergency Medical Services and recently graduated from the Health One EMS program in Englewood.

To fill open shift supervisor spots, Jackson said, Larry Escude and Charlie Wilson, advanced life support intermediate EMTs, have been hired full-time. It is a very similar situation to last summer, when two paramedics were also out on medical leave, she added. Three part-time EMTs, two basics and one EVO have turned in their equipment.

Jackson has hired four basic EMTs and three EVOs in the last eight weeks. All are serving in a part-time capacity, she said.

Evaluation due

A consultant from the state is expected to come to Pagosa Springs July 30 to evaluate the current structure of Emergency Medical Services. Jackson said the consultant will consider that structure and the possibility of going to complete full-time staff without the part-time component.


Ambulance service is

'compromised': Doctors

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

The Archuleta County courthouse meeting room echoed this week with sentiments from two local physicians who voiced concern to the county commissioners over the quality of ambulatory care provided by the Upper San Juan Health Service District.

Appearing before the board were Dr. Mark Wienpahl and Dr. James Pruitt, who reiterated opinions they have made public in the past regarding what they believe is a local health care system "in crisis" due, in part, to what Wienpahl referred to Tuesday as a "lack of cohesiveness in medical communication here."

Specifically, said Wienpahl, "Our concern is that the ambulance service is in a state of some degree of compromise in its effectiveness."

Wienpahl then explained he feels the health district's decision to hire outside the community to replace Dr. Bob Brown, the former physician advisor for Emergency Medical Services who terminated his employment with the district July 15, does not bode well for the future of ambulance service in the county.

Following Brown's resignation, officials of the Upper San Juan Health Service District contacted the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, and in accordance with state licensure standards, voluntarily suspended ambulance service for about seven hours July 16 until Dr. Dianne Fury was hired by the district as a replacement.

While not indicative of Fury's ability, said Wienpahl, the decision to hire an advisor "two counties away" is "not sufficient" to provide the proper oversight required by the position.

Wienpahl added that while he and other local physicians would like to assume that role, current circumstances prevent them from aggressively pursuing the position.

"I think some of us are willing," said Wienpahl, "but only with changes in the way the district is managed."

Wienpahl then expressed displeasure with current management, citing, among other concerns, what he called "a lack of goals ... and a lack of direction."

"I think the main reason things have deteriorated," added Wienpahl, "is (due to) a lack of a team approach to this situation."

With reference to the Medical Advisory Committee formed in April to address such issues, "Their suggestions have not been actively received by the district," said Wienpahl.

Backing Wienpahl's notions, Pruitt told the board, "We feel a sense of increased liability with the current situation."

Interference charged

Also, said Pruitt, there is concern over what he referred to as "administrative interference with medical decision making."

According to Pruitt, questionable decisions regarding paramedic assignments were recently handed down by district management on two occasions.

One of those incidents, said Pruitt, involved a man who apparently suffered head injuries while skiing last winter at Wolf Creek Ski Area.

In that instance, stated Pruitt, paramedics were "denied" a run to the ski area to assess the situation.

Another example, said Pruitt, was a decision by management to assign the most-qualified paramedics to a minor incident downtown July 18 instead of sending them to the site of an accident that occurred almost simultaneously on Wolf Creek Pass.

That accident, which Pruitt referred to as including "mass casualties," involved a group of Girl Scouts from Arizona who were traveling over the pass by van. (Emergency Medical Services responded to both incidents.)

In addition, Pruitt indicated he feels the district has been "circumventing the local physicians with respect to the current (physician advisor) situation" and, because only limited input has been allowed, said Pruitt, "I have been in a constant fight or battle."

When asked by the commissioners for her input on the scenario set forth by Wienpahl and Pruitt, Dee Jackson, health district manager, told the board the district would respond by letter to the allegations.

Jackson responds

However, in a telephone interview shortly after the meeting, Jackson addressed a few of the assertions made during the meeting.

With reference to the decision to hire outside the county to replace Brown, Jackson said the district did indeed seek local personnel first when attempting to fill the void.

"We approached Dr. Wienpahl, Dr. Pruitt and Dr. John Piccaro to see if they had any interest in the position, and all gave similar responses - 'no, at least not right now,'" said Jackson.

"And there is no mystique surrounding Dr. Fury of Cortez," continued Jackson, "She is truly a capable physician, certainly qualified and well-respected, and will serve in a temporary capacity until we can fill the position locally."

With respect to Pruitt's charge of administrative interference with medical decision making, "That is not an accurate assumption," said Jackson.

"Basically, the paramedics decide on what they run on," explained Jackson. "I don't know what the ski area incident was, and I don't normally get involved with medical care unless it involves relaying a phone call or other necessary communication."

With respect to the accident on Wolf Creek Pass, Jackson indicated no medical decision was made by management on who to send where, and with what qualifications.

"There was no 'administrative interference,' just a decision on the reallocation of proper resources to the scenes based on the direction of the paramedic in charge at that time," said Jackson.

"In fact, several of us went to the clinic to prepare for the possibility of numerous injuries," added Jackson, "and it was nice to see a coordinated team effort between the sheriff's office, state patrol, fire district and EMS personnel; it worked out fine."

Acknowledging the debate swirling around the operation of the health district, Jackson said the aim of the district is to continue to try to work with everyone involved to settle the lingering controversy for the benefit of the community as a whole.

"But that's not going to happen overnight," concluded Jackson.

Power limited

On a similar note, the commissioners each expressed an individual desire to arrive at a solution, while at the same time stating their legal involvement in the matter - as a board - is limited.

"The people of Archuleta County deserve and indeed need quality ambulance service; they pay for it," said Alden Ecker, board chairman.

"Put differences aside, if possible, to serve the people ... it's time to do it," added Ecker, "We will help in any way we can ... so long as we have the legal ability to do so."

Commissioner Mamie Lynch seconded those sentiments, stating, "I have great concerns for the quality of health care that will be delivered to the citizens of this town."

Compromise, said Lynch, may be the answer, because in order to achieve the desired results, in most complex situations, "Everybody has to give a little sometimes."

As far as the county and health district initiating work sessions to brainstorm on the issue, "I don't think we are in a position to say, 'Health board, get in here and meet with us' ... that's their call," said Commissioner Bill Downey.

"But individually I'm willing to help wherever possible," added Downey.

Lastly, when the board wondered aloud if perhaps outside arbitration could serve to ease the strain, Pruitt offered another suggestion.

"Why not let the people vote on it?" asked Pruitt.

However, the county "has no means of doing that," responded Mary Weiss, county attorney, "Unless the health board puts it on a ballot."



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Monsoon on horizon, good chances for rain forecast


By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

After enduring excessively dry weather patterns since late May, residents of Pagosa Country rejoiced during the past week as measurable rainfall paid a visit to several areas of Archuleta County for the first time in nearly two months.

While any precipitation is welcomed in a region which is still categorized under "extreme drought" conditions by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, heavy rains in southwest Colorado always carry with them the danger of flash floods.

Forecasters are indicating more rain is probable across the Four Corners during the coming week, and recent information provided by the National Weather Service Office in Grand Junction warns of the potential hazards associated with the onset of monsoon season - expected any day now according to regional forecasters.

"Brief heavy rain, gusty winds, small hail and cloud to ground lightning will accompany some of the storms," reads one advisory.

"Runoff from heavy rain may cause small streams and drainage areas in burn areas to quickly fill with water and debris," concludes the report.

According to the latest forecasts issued by the weather service, mostly-sunny skies should give way today to late afternoon thunderstorms.

High temperatures are expected to hit the mid-80s, and lows are predicted in the low 50s.

Friday's forecast calls for similar conditions, once again foretelling of widely-scattered afternoon thunderstorms, highs in the 80s and lows in the upper 40s to low 50s.

The trend toward afternoon showers is expected through the weekend as well, as Saturday and Sunday call for a 40-percent chance of rain, highs in the mid-80s and lows in the 50s.

The trio of forecasts for Monday Tuesday and Wednesday include a 30-percent chance for thunderstorms and slightly cooler afternoons; high temperatures are expected to peak in the upper 70s. Lows should fall into the mid-40s.

The average high temperature recorded last week at Stevens Field was 89 degrees. The average low for the week was 52. Precipitation totals for the week amounted to approximately one-fifth of an inch.

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, as measured south of town, ranged between approximately 40-50 cubic feet per second last week. The river's historic median flow for the week of July 24 is roughly 180 cubic feet per second.



Sports Page

Parks & Rec

Summer baseball players will get to see free movie

By Joe Lister Jr.

SUN Columnist

Jace and Kelly Johnson, owners of the Liberty Theatre, will be showing a free matinee to all Parks and Recreation baseball players at 1 p.m. July 30

"The Rookie" will be shown free of charge with players urged to bring their socks and their pants to turn in at that time.

Please wear your jersey and your cap to help show your support for the sponsors and the program. 

Entry to the movie is free, but if you want a snack you must bring your own money.

Diamond news

The Pagosa Springs Parks and Recreation 10-12 baseball teams were represented in an annual baseball tournament in Monte Vista last week by a team of 10 all-stars, and three coaches in a 14- team competition

Team members were Andy Abresh, Jordan Boudreaux, Matt Brown, Preston Dale, Mike Flihan, Ben Jackson, Zel Johnston, Mike Mundy, Daniel Reese, Mikeal Reese, Josh Trout, and Paul Valentine.

The confirmation for the tournament appearance came only hours before the first game, with little practice and overcoming 100-degree weather, but the local team ended up in the top echelon.

We would like to thank the parents and the coaches for supporting this year's all-star team. Coaches were Denny Reese, Darin Mundy, and Val Valentine.

Final drawings

The final drawing for the 16- acre sports complex master plan is in and available for all to see at the town hall. We are excited about the long awaited master plan that has required hours upon hours of planning. We went through three preliminary stages to finally get a plan that fits the needs of the people present at the organizational meeting.

We are feeling really good about the plan. The next step is to take it to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Council for approval, then on to the town board for their stamp of approval.

In related news, we met with Wally Piccone, of Great Outdoors Colorado, the managing trust for lottery funds for the state.

He looked at our plans and answered many questions. We were thinking of applying for funds next fall for the building of the sports complex but he encouraged us to put our bid in for state grants this fall.

So now we must get aggressive, line up all the players - the town, the school district, and the county - to make this project a good solid entry in this year's competition for lottery funds.

Anyone or any service group or club that has money raising ideas for the upcoming grant application feel free to call me at 264-4151, Ext. 231. We need to raise over $20,000 which equals 10 percent of the maximum you can apply for each grant writing period.

Raw water feed

As I type, Don Ford of U-Can- Afford Landscaping is in the river south of town, installing the last part of the irrigation system that will water all the school owned grounds and athletic fields. It will also water the future town owned sports complex with untreated water from the San Juan River.

Our goal with this inter-government agreement with PAWS, the school district, and the Town of Pagosa Springs, is to conserve treated water which we have been using for the past 25 years by drawing raw water directly from the river.

The Town of Pagosa Springs along with PAWS owns the water rights. By having a master plan of five raw water feeds throughout town we plan to water much of town and school owned property with these water rights.

We have become a little spoiled over the past years. But now, with the past few seasons of drought conditions, our timing could not be better.



100 women match strokes in annual Pine Cone Classic

By Lynne Allison

Special to The SUN

With 100 women from seven different states participating, the annual Pine Cone Classic sponsored by Pagosa Women's Golf Association, produced some top notch play.

The annual event is a four-person, two best ball gross and net tournament.

Six Pagosa teams were winners or placed in their respective flights.

In the championship flight, Jane Day, Debbie Hart, Julie Pressley and Shelley Earl won second place net with a 249.

Barbara Sanborn, Bonnie Hoover, Jane Stewart and Pam Lewis were third net with a 251.

First place gross winners in the third flight were Nancy Chitwood, Sally Bish, Charlotte Lee and Jody Lawrence with 358. Audrey Johnson, Sue Martin, Sharon Utz and Carrie Weisz garnered second place net in the flight with 254. At 259, Marilyn Pruter, Kristin Hatfield, Loretta Campuzano and Sheila Rogers won third place net and the team of Josie Hummel, Kathy Giordano, Judy Horky and Rosie Hatchett was fourth place net, also with a 259.

On the first day Pagosa's Genie Roberts won the closest to the pin special event (19-36 handicappers) on Ponderosa #2.

While golf was the main focus, the ladies enjoyed breakfast at the clubhouse both days and on Tuesday evening a cocktail party and dinner were held at the home of Bonnie and Earl Hoover who have offered their home for this event for several years. Mary Jo Coulehan catered the affair.

The awards luncheon was under a big top tent on the grounds of Pagosa Springs Golf Club.

In a July 1 league event, the format for the day was "Three Pigs in a Poke." The golfers totaled their gross scores, less their three worst holes, and subtracted 50 percent of their handicaps.

Jan Kilgore was first with 57; Marilyn Pruter second with 58; Nancy Chitwood third with 59; Sho-Jen Lee fourth at 62; Kathy Giordano fifth with 63; Marilyn Smart sixth with 64 and Julie Pressley seventh with 65.


Pagosa Black loses in semis of Koufax tourney

The Sandy Koufax League Black Team, sponsored by The Source, advanced to semifinals of the state tournament last week in Farmington.

With 18 teams entered, the Black team finished 4-2 in the tournament, losing a 10-9 heartbreaker in the semifinal game.

Head coach Dan Bahn and assistants Jim Henderson, John Laner and Charles Gallegos guided the squad through the season.

The team sponsor was one of three which contributed $1,000 or more to the league's operations this year.

Wells Fargo was another $1,000 backer as was Todd Abraham representing Javio, which sponsored the younger Yellow Team in the same league.

Other league backers provided from $100 to $500 in support payments for the organization.



N. Ruth McBride

N. Ruth McBride, 82, born to the late Robert Lee and Nannie Belle Fyffe, went to be with the Lord on July 16, 2003, in Carrollton, Texas.

Ruth was a faithful pastor's wife for 31 years and was frequently president of the Women's Missionary Union of the local church and a dedicated Sunday School teacher.

An avid gardener, she also had a great love of quilting.

A loving mother, grandmother and great grandmother, she is survived by her daughter, Betty Joyce McBride Willett and husband Ronald of Pagosa Springs; son Billy Wayne McBride and wife Chessie; grandchildren David Ray and Jeffrey Wayne McBride and (preceding her in death), Karen Lynn McBride Jasper; great-grandchildren Jessica Anne Jasper, Chanel Marie McBride, Patrick Ryan McBride, Austin Ray McBride, Holly Ann McBride and Natalie Shae McBride; a brother, Robert Lee Fyffe; sisters Mary Helen Burks and Norma Elizabeth Taylor. She was preceded in death by her husband, Isaac David McBride, a brother, Edwin Fyffe and sisters, Bette Jean Messina and Fannie Lou Ginn.

Visitation and services were at Rhoton Funeral Home in Carrolton. Interment was Tuesday in Hilltop Cemetery in Pagosa Springs.

Memorials may be made to the Mission Offerings of the First Baptist Church of Carrollton.


Steven R. Poleski

The Poleski family mourn the July 20 passing of Steven R. Poleski, a Pagosa Springs resident.

Born May 13, 1959 in Chicago to Ron and Dee Poleski of Orland Park, Ill., he is survived by sisters Sue D. Gregorio, Alayne Scott and Rondee Oberheu and loving nieces and nephews Kris, Ryan, Brittany, Daniel, Andrew, Tyler and Olivia, and a great-nephew, Jerimiah, all living in Illinois. He is further survived by many devoted friends throughout the county and the Four Corners area. "We have a hole in our lives."

A celebration of life will be held on his property, 1314 Oak Drive, Aspen Springs, at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, July 26.


 Inside The Sun

More highway construction due on Wolf Creek; other area projects still causing delays

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Another Wolf Creek Pass construction project is in the offing, with a planned start date late this construction season.

The Colorado Transportation Commission has approved plans to issue nearly $225 million in bonds to accelerate high-priority projects within 28 Strategic Transportation Corridors.

In the upcoming weeks, the department plans to issue $100 million of those bonds with the new Wolf Creek project calling for $26 million of that.

Included is a 1.5 mile safety project stretching along U.S. 160 from west of Lonesome Dove easterly and including construction of climbing lanes, acceleration/decelerations lanes, shoulders and other work to bring the stretch up to current design standards.

Meanwhile, work continues on two other Wolf Creek projects:

€ the east side tunnel project has delays of up to 30 minutes during the day and a width restriction of 12 feet between mile markers 173 and 175 3 p.m.-7 a.m. Monday through Friday. A department hotline can provide up-to-the minute information at (719) 873-2221

€ west side project from Treasure Falls to the summit with occasional minimal length traffic stops for equipment entering and exiting the project which is creating rock drains, under-drain and culvert service areas

€ work on a new snow shed just east of the summit is nearing completion with no expected additional delays.

Elsewhere in the region, work continues on U.S. 160 in Bayfield with paving now underway.

Drivers can expect 10-minute delays between 6 and 8 a.m. and longer delays &emdash; up to 20 minutes &emdash; between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. During work hours there also will be periodic traffic stops to accommodate flow through the intersection with Colorado 501.

And, one-lane traffic will be in operation periodically on U.S. 84 south from Pagosa Springs toward the New Mexico state line with delays of up to 15 minutes for a major pavement rehabilitation project. There is a 10-foot width restriction in effect during work hours.


County approves temporary asphalt plant on U.S. 160

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Concurring with last week's recommendation from the Upper San Juan Regional Planning Commission, the Archuleta County commissioners approved a conditional use permit Tuesday for a temporary gravel pit/asphalt plant operation east of town following a 7 p.m. 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, will serve as the site for the project.

According to Craig Wickstrom, project manager for permit applicant Nielsons Skanska Inc., gravel mining and crushing operations will begin in early August and are scheduled to be completed by October, weather permitting.

Wickstrom added asphalt plant operations will not begin until next spring and will last an estimated 6-8 weeks. Full site reclamation is 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.

Precautionary measures include a berm and petroleum-proof liner to safeguard against the possibility of spills into the San Juan River from hot mix plant operations.

The approval also stipulates that water quality in a nearby well serving the Log Park subdivision will also be regularly tested and "protected from verifiable degradation of quality" at the expense of Nielsons Skanska, though contamination is highly unlikely, said Wickstrom.

"If we contaminated their well, it would have to be in a catastrophic way and very, very apparent," explained Wickstrom.

"That would take ... very serious events, and I'd almost want to say gross negligence on our part," added Wickstrom.

If a significant decrease in water quality is detected, the findings will be presented to the board for review and a determination on the proper course of action.

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

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

The hearing was attended by 10 area residents, and public comment on the project was minimal, consisting mainly of questions relating to effective noise reduction, increased traffic concerns/effect on tourism and operating-hour enforcement.

When one member of the public raised the question of possibly relocating the project to a site farther away from the San Juan River, Wickstrom indicated that option had been considered from the start, but was never realized.

While alternative sites &emdash; including Trujillo Road &emdash; were investigated, said Wickstrom, to minimize hauling distances, obtain the appropriate gravel quality required by CDOT and avoid increasing traffic through downtown Pagosa Springs, his company bid for the proposed location because of its proximity to the section of U.S. 160 targeted for reconstruction.

"We realize we're not quite the perfect neighbor," said Wickstrom, "But we're going to do our best ... whatever is realistic and feasible, to minimize the effects of (the operation)."

While the commissioners indicated asphalt plants will never be included on their individual lists of favorite things, each acknowledged the need for them with respect to a growing community.

"I don't particularly like any location for them," said Commissioner Bill Downey, "But good highways are essential."

"Things are changing ... more and more people are using our highways," added Commissioner Mamie Lynch. "I would prefer to never have to see a plant, but I know we have to have them."

Speaking to the short-term nature of such facilities, Alden Ecker, board chairman, echoed the sentiments of his fellow board members near the end of the hearing.

"Regardless of what we might think," said Ecker, "I would rather have temporary asphalt plants than permanent ones."


PAWS applauds community conservation efforts

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

The board of directors of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District voted Tuesday to approve a 12-inch release from Lake Pagosa to Village Lake in order to augment the irrigation supply available to district raw water users.

According to Carrie Campbell, district general manager, while releases are not a normal practice during drought years, the display of aggressive conservation efforts in the past year by district customers contributed to the decision.

"I think the community should be applauded," said Campbell, "The way people have responded to the drought conditions and the steps they have taken toward conserving water have been superb."

Campbell explained that year-to-date consumption is down from 2002, but added that treatment/usage has been on the rise in the past 25 days, increasing by roughly one million gallons per day on average.

Despite the recent increase in usage, said Campbell, a minimal release from Lake Pagosa to Village Lake will have a negligible impact on the district's water reserves.

"A one-time release of this quantity is not going to have a detrimental effect on the district supply," concluded Campbell.

Water restrictions

The board made no adjustment to watering restrictions this week, and residents living within the district who have addresses ending in even numbers may continue to water on even-numbered days of the month; residents whose addresses end in odd numbers may water on odd-numbered days of the month.

Watering is permitted between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. the following morning.

Drought update

According to the latest information provided by Campbell, district lakes and reservoirs are at the following approximate levels:

€ Lake Hatcher &emdash; 14 inches below full pool

€ Stevens Reservoir &emdash; eight inches below full pool

€ Lake Pagosa &emdash; 14 inches below full pool

€ Lake Forest &emdash; five inches below full pool

€ Village Lake &emdash; 52 inches below full pool.


Autopsy set in Pagosan's death

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

A Pagosa Springs man arrested in December after investigators seized about 100 marijuana plants, cash, weapons and growing equipment from a home south of Oxford, was found dead July 20.

Lt. Dan Bender of the La Plata County Sheriff's Office, said Steven Poleski's body was found by Lynn Crandall about 12:30 p.m. He was apparently found in the shower of Crandall's home.

The cause of death is unknown and nothing indicated foul play, Bender said. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

Poleski was 44. In March he plead guilty to money laundering and possessing and cultivating marijuana in a plea agreement with the district attorney's office. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 50 hours of community service, two years probation and court costs.

As part of the agreement, he was also required to answer investigator's questions about the cultivation operation uncovered in December and Crandall's involvement.


Meadows area road construction slated for early August

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Reconstruction efforts on portions of roadways in Meadows I and Meadows IV subdivisions are set to begin following Tuesday's decision by the Archuleta County board of county commissioners to approve a contract with Strohecker Asphalt and Paving.

If all goes according to plan, the reconstruction of segments of South Pagosa Boulevard and Buttress Avenue could begin in early August.

Meadows Drive is also included in the project, but according to Bill Steele, county administrator, improvements to that thoroughfare will likely be postponed until next spring.

Due to a waning construction season and the number of other road projects scheduled for initiation by the county this summer, "It will be increasingly difficult to include Meadows this year," said Steele.

Strohecker's original bid amount for the project, approximately $1.38 million, was increased to roughly $1.575 in the contract after a slate of additional works were added to the scope of the project. That figure is still below the county's budgeted estimate for the project, which amounts to roughly $1.6 million.

The list of additions, among other things, includes mailbox cluster relocation, blasting, excavation, seeding and mulching.

The three sections of roadway designated for "reconstruction and improvement with asphaltic concrete" include a 1.2-mile stretch of South Pagosa Boulevard from the intersection of Cameron Place to the intersection with Buttress Avenue.

Also targeted for improvements is a sixth-tenths of a mile span of Buttress Avenue from the intersection of South Pagosa Boulevard to the intersection with Meadows Drive.

Lastly, a 1.7-mile segment of Meadows Drive from the intersection with Big Sky Place to the intersection with Buttress Avenue will receive treatment as well.


Wolf Creek crashes keep emergency teams busy

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

A pair of accidents east of Pagosa Springs the morning of July 18 sent emergency personnel scrambling.

In the first, a pickup carrying two juveniles struck a delineator post and a tree.

According to Colorado State Patrol reports, a 17-year-old from Monte Vista was driving east on U.S. 160 at about mile marker 156 when the vehicle left the road and hit a delineator post. The truck, a 1987 Chevrolet S-10, then spun back across the highway and hit a tree. It then spun again and came to rest back on the roadway.

Both the driver, and a 10-year-old passenger, also of Monte Vista, received minor injuries. On scene, the driver was cited with DUI. Other charges are pending and will be determined by the district attorney's office.

Later the same morning, a 15-passenger van bounced off the guardrail about five miles above the San Juan Overlook. The vehicle came to a stop on the edge of the road. The driver allegedly fell asleep at the wheel.

One person was transported to Pagosa Family Medicine Center, another to San Juan Regional and several more to the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center via school bus. All have apparently been treated and released.


California bicyclist hit on Put Hill; two charges are filed

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

A California man on a bicycle was struck by a sports utility vehicle while riding down Put Hill July 20.

According to police reports, Matthew Rainwater, 22, of Corona, Calif., was riding east when he was struck head-on by a vehicle turning left onto Great West Avenue.

Rainwater hit the front fender of the 1996 Ford, bounced off the windshield and went airborne, landing against the guardrail. His bicycle broke in half. His helmet shattered.

"If not for the helmet, it probably would have been a fatal accident," Patrol Supervisor Chuck Allen said.

Rainwater was transported to Mercy Medical Center in Durango. He was listed in fair condition Wednesday morning.

The driver of the SUV, Burln Goodman, 20, of Pagosa Springs, was cited for failure to yield and turning left in front of traffic.


Draft version of home rule charter readied for tonight

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

It's time for pubic comment.

The Pagosa Springs Home Rule Charter Commission will present the draft version of a home rule charter at a public hearing tonight at 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

The commission of nine have spent the past two and a half months creating the charter which could, possibly, govern Pagosa Springs. According to the Colorado Municipal League Home Rule Handbook, "A charter is the central document governing a home rule municipality. It is to the municipality what the constitution is to the state. It outlines the basic procedures to be followed when the governing body acts and imposes restrictions on the powers of the municipality."

Currently, Pagosa Springs is a statutory municipality which means that its government organization is determined by state statute. The state constitution offers an alternative to this called "home rule" by which residents of a town can actually create a charter that sets the municipal government organization in regard to local issues.

The commission has only 120 days under state law to write a charter and present it to the town board. From there, the charter will either be approved or rejected by a vote of the people.

The commission plans to bring the charter before the town board of trustees at their next meeting Aug. 5 at 5 p.m. in Town Hall.


Blood drive scheduled here

United Blood Services has scheduled one blood drive for the balance of this month in Pagosa Springs.

It will be 1-6 p.m. July 31 in Mountain Heights Baptist Church, 1044 Park Ave.

Identification is required for all donors. Prospective participants may sign up for the drive online at www.unitedbloodservices.org


Delivery driver wins new

plaudits for firefighting

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Jim White was waiting out a rainstorm inside his home on Blanco Basin Road the afternoon of July 16 when a deafening thunderclap suddenly shook the surrounding countryside.

"I was on the phone when the bolt hit, and it sounded so close I thought it was in the yard," said White.

Further investigation by White revealed a thin wisp of smoke rising from a grove of trees a short distance away, just off Forest Road 660 (also known as Castle Creek Road.)

"After the lightning stopped, I jumped in the car, went up there and saw the UPS truck parked nearby," said White, "And I knew who it had to be immediately."

The driver of the truck, Pagosa resident Stephanie Mueller, was battling a small ground fire beneath a smoldering aspen tree with a shovel when White arrived, and promptly asked him for a chain saw as he approached the scene.

White returned home, reported the incident to the Forest Service and Archuleta County dispatch, grabbed a chain saw and hastily backtracked to the fire, which had spread into the tree's trunk and branches. Another local resident, George Love, was now engaged in the firefighting effort as well.

After White cut down the tree, the trio was eventually able to subdue the flames until county crews arrived and thoroughly extinguished the small blaze with water and foam retardant.

Aside from the fact that White is familiar with Mueller because she routinely delivers to the Upper Blanco area, upon seeing the truck close to the fire he "knew who it had to be" because Mueller has engaged in impromptu firefighting efforts before while on her route.

"I never imagined something like this would happen to me again," said Mueller, who extinguished a similar fire three years ago while delivering in the Coyote Park area &emdash; and received an Angel of the Highway award for her efforts to suppress that blaze.

"This time I was traveling up the road, looked over and there was a fire, said Mueller, "And I thought, 'Well, that's odd,' and I tried to call it in on my cell phone, but couldn't get service.

"So I got my shovel, crawled through the barbed wire and went to work," continued Mueller.

Mueller was digging a fire line around the perimeter of the burn area when White and Love arrived, a skill she learned while working with a Forest Service hand crew one summer while attending college in California.

"That may prove to be the most important thing I learned in college," joked Mueller, "It has certainly come in handy in the past, and (did) again when we were dealing with the aspen tree last week."

While aspens do not usually flare up from lightning strikes, this one was hollow, said Mueller, and full of old squirrels' nests and other highly-flammable debris.

"I was digging, and then I started feeling ashes on my head and shoulders and realized the fire had spread up the trunk," added Mueller, "That's when Jim pulled up and I asked for the chain saw."

"We were fortunate to get it out," said Mueller, "Because it was directly beneath some fir trees, and it wouldn't have been a good situation had we not been there."

It's certainly not a stretch to believe residents of the Upper Blanco area feel the same way, according to White.

"I think she deserves a whole lot of credit for what she's done as a community service, so to speak," said White, "In fact, she deserves all the credit."

And what does Mueller think about her twice being in the right place at the right time to help prevent a potential disaster?

"I'm by no means an expert, so hopefully I'm making the right decisions," said Mueller.

"It's kind of nice to be able to make a difference."


Rain aids streamflows, improves fishing odds

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Late-afternoon thunderstorms across higher elevations in the eastern San Juan Mountains deposited enough rain last week to temporarily stabilize decreasing flows in many Pagosa Country streams and rivers.

While sudden spikes in flows often result in brief periods of murky water in some tributaries, trout will occasionally become less wary during runoff and actively feed on the increased number of insects and other food being carried downstream.

Bright, attractor-pattern flies fished in the debris flow produce strikes in such conditions, as do metallic Mepps and Panther Martin spinners in copper, gold and silver. Small surface poppers will also garner attention when fished with a twitching motion in the main flow and side eddies.

Fishing near the inlets and steeper banks of reservoirs after a rainstorm is also a good bet, as long as care is taken to avoid areas subject to flash flooding. Fish will often congregate in such areas to sample the surge of food being swept into the shallows.

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

€ San Juan River (through town) &emdash; Flows are averaging about 40 cubic feet per second. The stretch of river through downtown was stocked with rainbows last week by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Successful anglers are using spinners, flies, salmon eggs and streamers to catch rainbows and an occasional brown.

€ Echo Lake &emdash; Aquatic plant growth is hindering shoreline angling in shallow 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 in the cooler hours of the day.

€ Williams Creek Reservoir &emdash; 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 &emdash; 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. Fishing for smallmouths, largemouths crappie and northern pike is reported as fair.

€ Big Meadows Reservoir &emdash; Fishing is good near the creek inlets and fair in the deeper areas of the lake. Brook trout are now the predominant catch and are hitting PowerBait, flies, and brightly-colored spinners.

€ East Fork of San Juan &emdash; Flows varying with runoff from afternoon rains. Fishing for pan-sized rainbows and browns through the shaded canyon areas is fair in the early morning and toward evening.

€ Piedra River &emdash; Clarity is affected by afternoon runoff, but river is fishing well in most sections. Best fishing is between the box 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 &emdash; Low flows. Fish are easily spooked, but small browns and rainbows are occasionally being taken on flies and small jigs and spinners.

€ Fourmile Creek &emdash; Flow fluctuates depending on rains, but brook trout and cutthroats are taking attractor-pattern flies and lightweight spinners in the upper sections near the falls.

€ Williams Creek &emdash; Campground waters continue to see numerous anglers, but fishing in shaded canyons is fair to 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 in the lower stretch.


Trujillo natives give us a lesson in community

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

You won't see a mall or a service station.

There is no subdivision and no corner grocery.

But the Trujillo community, without real boundaries has an identifying marker &emdash; the nearly century old cemetery.

And looking at it today one would not know its age if not for the dates inscribed on the stones therein.

It has a new nameplate, new fence, and lends a simplicity of the West to the graves encompassed by the work.

It was a community effort, spearheaded by Lucas Martinez and Joe Herrera, both men whose ancestors are buried there.

"We were upset that the cemetery looked run down," Lucas said. "We are a community of doers and &emdash; as such &emdash; decided we'd do something about the appearance."

He admits they didn't have any idea what it might cost in the way of materials or hours.

"But we found out quickly," said Moises Martinez, one of the many workers who toiled nearly two weeks to get the project finished.

Herrera lives in Bloomfield, N.M., now, but his family is a longtime member of the community.

He began sounding out materials suppliers on possible donations for the cemetery. And they began arriving &emdash; a load of pipe to be cut into posts, chain-link fencing to be stretched around the ancestral burial grounds, steel for fabricating new crosses, and promises of volunteer labor.

It all melded together as the waters of the San Juan River, enforced by the Blanco scant miles above the cemetery murmured in the background while welders assembled the crosses for the project.

"We had great support," said Moises. "We even had many of the women of the community out here working alongside us. The others brought food and kept us fed while the project was underway."

Asked how many contributed in some way, he paused, thought, and with the help of Timmy Martinez, began rattling off names, names like Martinez, over and over, like Archuleta, Valdez and Herrera.

The cemetery has been there at least since 1916 when the original church was built.

No one knows for sure how many are buried there.

"We have graves that are unmarked," Lucas said. "And we have graves with names that seem to have no current link to residents of the area."

"We plan, as a final part of this endeavor, to have a plaque under the central cross with the names of all the dead engraved thereon."

That will be a long, tedious task.

They are not sure how to go about researching the situation. Timmy said his family has a partial list, but there are many graves which merely host a former resident with no idea who it is.

He said his parents have estimated the project so far "would have cost $19,000-$20,000 had the had to buy the materials and pay the going rate for labor in the area."

"We worked 6 a.m.-6 p.m. for two weeks to get it to look like this," said Moises, who was raised on a ranch two miles to the south. "And we're not through yet."

"We want to make it a heritage site for the area," said Lucas. "One where the old families can find their predecessors and, if they like, improve those family sites."

From days when vast herds of sheep and cattle grazed the land to today when, without the cemetery to mark it many would not know there is a Trujillo, the area has remained community.

"We hope people will help us determine who are in the unmarked graves," Lucas said. "If there are families with knowledge of someone being buried here, we want to know. It probably won't be possible, but we'd like to develop a full history of the burials held here."

If you are or know of one of those families, contact him at 264-5995.

If you want to see what community effort can produce, take a 25-minute drive down Trujillo Road and watch for the grieving cowboy kneeling before a candle on the cemetery gate.

You will get an idea what real community can be.


Thief gets 5-passenger Seeds of Learning wagon

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

The red wagon is missing, apparently stolen.

It isn't just any red wagon, but one professionally designed for use in child care facilities.

It was taken from Seeds of Learning on San Juan Street sometime after 5 p.m. Sunday.

Lynn Bridges said she was in the office just before that time and the wagon was still there.

By Monday morning, however, it was gone. Just the safety flag that flies on a whipstyle pole from the wagon was left behind &emdash; on the sidewalk.

The wagon carries five children at once and is a familiar sight downtown when youngsters are being taken out for a treat or just to get fresh air.

Seeds staff asked that anyone with information about the wagon's whereabouts contact them or the police department.

"We just want it back," said Bridges. "The kids love to ride in it."

Officer Chuck Allen, Pagosa police patrol supervisor, said the wagon was valued between $400 and $500. It was always anchored outside when not in use because it was too large to get in the door to the facility.

Any tips on its location would be welcome, he said.


Mountain Express plans to begin Saturday service Aug. 9

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Honoring a request from Dave Sedgwick, county transportation director, the Archuleta County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the extension of Mountain Express bus service to Saturdays.

Sedgwick indicated he hopes to begin Saturday service by Aug. 9, and told the board he feels the extension will be well received by the public.

"Saturday service has been one of the things that we've gotten heavy feedback on from the community," said Sedgwick, indicating there is definitely a need for expansion.

Once implemented, Sedgwick said the extended service is expected to fill a void but could be evaluated on a regular basis. If interest in Saturday service waned, said Sedgwick, the board could decide whether to modify operating hours or eliminate service altogether.

The cost to operate the service through the end of the year amounts to $4,400, but the expenditure is covered because it was part of a wide range of budget amendments approved by the board July 1.

The decision to expand service marks the second time this year the commissioners have elected to bolster the county transit system. In mid-June, the board approved the purchase of a new bus to augment service (also included as part of the budget amendments passed earlier this month).

The new vehicle, purchased from a Colorado Springs-based bus sales company known as Startrans, will replace an older bus currently used in the county fleet and should be ready for delivery within the next two months.

While the price tag for the new bus amounts to about $47,000, Sedgwick indicated those funds are reimbursed under the provisions of the federal Job Access Reverse Commute Grant program.

Funds from the program, which are also known as JARC grants, are primarily aimed at improving a community's ability to provide residents with transportation to and from job sites.

The county has been awarded $85,887 in JARC grants for the operation of Mountain Express since applying for the funds in 2001.




Cook the books

Dear Editor:

Enron officials are not the only ones who know how to "cook the books." The Bush Administration does a pretty good job of it, too.

The infamous 16 words that Bush said in the State of the Union speech concerning the alleged purchase by Iraq of uranium from Africa is a good example.

They "cooked" the intelligence books and selected only the parts that justified their reasons for invading Iraq. The information was clearly faulty and never should have been used.

George Tenet should not be the fall guy. The buck stops at the president's desk and nowhere else. The matter is not closed.

We are now stuck in a quagmire in a country who's people despise us. We have a moral and legal responsibility to repair the destruction we caused, and provide the basic humanitarian necessities to the Iraqi people. In the meantime our boys are being picked off - killed and wounded almost daily.

In a few months we will again elect a president. I hope the American people will select a new administration who will not lie to us.

Bill Ayer

PAWS mission?

Dear Editor:

It is said that "a picture is worth a thousand words." This also holds true for observations (after all, they are visual pictures).

I recently visited Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation (PAWS) and was greeted by the receptionist/secretary in a most cordial manner - nice person. I asked for a copy of the names and addresses (including e-mail) of the board members. That list was not readily available so she generated one from a roll-a-dex located on her desk, but said she did not have any e-mail addresses.

I then asked for a copy of the PAWS Mission Statement. She was unaware that one existed, but referred me to a couple of people who might be aware of its existence. One of those people was on the phone, so I visited the second - nice guy.

He recalled some type of mission statement from the 1970s, and stated that the board (nice people), had talked about upgrading and refining a new one. But the revision had not transpired as yet. He looked through some papers and files, but did not produce a mission statement. He stated that it wouldn't take much to update the mission statement because things had not changed that much (not changed in 30+ years?).

I have experienced the operation of "governing" boards in several capacities. I have served on two property owners' associations as a director, and worked closely with educational school boards. In each of these scenarios, the board members have been very knowledgeable and skilled at leading and instructing management in the direction of their chosen mission.

I have attended numerous board meetings at PAWS that are held every other week and have observed many nice people assuming a most difficult role in two successive drought stricken years. It seems as though the management directs and decides the course of action that PAWS will take without the essential leadership of the elected board members.

In tough financial times, a bank will carefully scrutinize ways to invest their money wisely in order to generate a profit. Likewise, a school or school system that has a weakness in a particular instructional area will look toward a means to shore up and improve that area. Doesn't it make sense that a business that manages water, in times of drought, would be bringing in and storing water in all available areas to meet the needs of their customers and community?

Through my observations, I must sadly say, that it does not surprise me to see an inoperable water line leading to a drought-stricken lake. Shouldn't water be flowing into a lake that's water level is near or approaching 60 inches below the spillway?

Water in all its capacities is essential for the Pagosa community!

Ken Bailey

Pagosa Lakes

Future wars?

Dear Editor:

The July 18 edition of the Los Angeles Times contained a very interesting article about the planning for post-war administration and rebuilding of Iraq.

The article is titled "Preparing for War, Stumbling to Peace - U.S. is paying the price for missteps made on Iraq."

At the end of this article is a quote that caught my eye. Referring to the difficulties the coalition forces have experienced in postwar Iraq, Lawrence Di Rita, a special assistant to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is quoted as saying:

"We're going to get better over time. We've always thought of post hostilities as a phase. The future of war is that these things are going to be much more of a continuum ... This is the future for the world we're in at the moment. We'll get better as we do it more often."

I'm curious. Just how often Mr. Di Rita and his boss, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld expect that the United States will invade and conquer other countries?

As I recall, the Bush administration said we needed to go to war in Iraq to deal with a unique and serious threat to our security. Do they now see this as a routine occurrence?

I pray they do not.

Jim Buslepp

Let it work

Dear Editor:

As a local taxpayer and community member, and after attending several Health Service board meetings recently, I heard two gentlemen say they had nothing but the good of the local people and the health district in mind, but I saw a display of threats, blackmail and rudeness at the last meeting.

Surely I misunderstood their intent because they certainly didn't act very professional. It reminded me of a church split because of the color of the carpet, the old I'll take my ball and go home if you don't do as I say. Come on folks, we are not children anymore.

It appears a certain group of people function on rumors instead of truth. It is a lot easier that way, instead of talking to someone yourself and then deciding.

We heard an accountant and a third party consultant say what the district needed, but they don't want to believe someone whose answers they don't want to hear.

Some people being condemned here have a good track record if they (accusers) had bothered to check, but the deal is ... don't confuse me with facts; I need to do what someone told me instead.

Come on folks. It works as a team only if you would stop trying to sabotage the Health Service District and let them work it will work out OK. Who gains from this failure? Only a select few.

Neal Dennis

Media blamed

Dear Editor:

Alan Greenspan gave his testimony to Congress July 15 and reported this economy is picking up steam and is building toward a stable, and solid, economic recovery.

In his speech to Congressional leaders, he credited the recovery to an aggressive stance by the Fed to lower interest rates and to the recent tax cut legislation.

I have spent my career in the financial services industry since 1978. For seven years our firm was responsible for managing three mutual funds and structuring tax-free trusts. During this time, it was mandatory that we follow the economic cycles and policies to try and predict future movements.

Who has the most influence on the direction of the economy? The president? No. Alan Greenspan? No. Congress? No.

The media has the most powerful effect on the economy. All of the previously mentioned play a significant role, but the media affects the buying, saving and investing habits of the population on a daily basis.

In the 1992 election race between Bill Clinton and George Bush, the media convinced the voters that we were in the midst of a severe economic downturn. If you will recall, Clinton's theme was "It's the economy, stupid." The fact is that we came out of recession six months after the Gulf War which was in 1990. In 1992, we were not only out of the recession, we were in the midst of an economic expansions that lasted seven years.

The media is at it again. Every headline is pointing out any negative numbers that can be presented and completely ignoring the economic statistics that show the economy not only improving but, as Alan Greenspan testified, producing solid and sustainable growth. Unlike the 1999 stock market bubble, this expansion is solid.

It is important that Americans, and particularly voters, understand that the liberal media would love nothing more than to drive us back into a recession. This type of reporting does not care about us making a living, they care only about winning back the Congress and the White House.

Their biased reporting is literally stealing billions of dollars form the Gross Domestic Product each quarter. The amount of money that this strategy steals from the economy far surpasses any corporate scandals.

Unlike the corporate wrongdoers, the media has a free ride to suppress all of our businesses. This is a major problem and one we all need to be aware of.

On a more positive note, we watched a large fire erupt from our deck July 15. By my best guess, the fire spread quickly and covered over 100 acres by Cat Creek Road. It looked extremely dangerous with our dry conditions.

As I awoke the next morning to check the spread of the fire, I was surprised to see that it was gone and only a small amount of smoke remained. Thank you to all our great firefighters, emergency personnel and locals who work so hard to protect us. You are truly amazing and are all heroes.

John Ranson

Shame on you

To the Board of the San Juan Health District:

We have attended almost every board meeting except for the last. (My husband was out fighting the fires).

We were appalled to hear that the board had turned down the privatization of Drs. Robert Brown and Mark Wienpahl. You asked us to have faith in you, the board, and now come to find out that you had no intention of going along with the 6-point program that was proposed.

We can't tell you how disappointed we are with the board. As we understand it, the board is supposed to be a representation of the public, and should not have full reign to do what they want. Don't tell us you took this proposal under advisement. You knew all along that this was not going to benefit the board.

We have two wonderful doctors who are caring and giving and with one flush, down the toilet they go. We have been patients of Dr. Brown for three years and have found him to be an outstanding diagnostician. To treat these doctors with no respect is outrageous.

We, as one family and we know there are over 700 families in the area, will try our very hardest to keep these doctors in town. Whatever we can do, we will do. If we have to, we will call for a recall of the board and hope that it is not too late to repair the damage.

Our taxes are paying for EMS and The San Juan Health District, (Mary Fisher Clinic) which in our case is 25 miles away. Stop and think about our seniors and children who are high-risk patients not to mention the many tourists who travel through and to our town. With no EMS or clinic coverage to count on, we are 'scared sick'! This is not acceptable!

And who gave Dee Jackson the authority to hire an outside consultant? Who paid for this consultant? We are sure Ms. Jackson didn't. It came out of the San Juan Health District budget and ultimately the taxpayers' money. Who called the local sheriff on Dr. Brown?

Come on Dee, use a little discretion and shame on you!

Diane and John Rieck

Chimney Rock

Church defense

This letter is in response to L.A. Baker, of Gato, Colorado's July 17th, letter to the editor titled Proud and blessed.

I would rather have the church sad and lonely on a corner in Pagosa than demolished, burned down and laying on the ground.

The church we saw was graffiti ridden, beer cans everywhere, condom wrappers strewn about. We found this appalling.

It is great Trujillo has saved their church and cemetery, but don't cast stones at others. My wife and I took two years of our lives and $150,000 of our own money to historically restore Juanita Church back to its former glory for use as a wedding chapel. This includes stained glass and the original bell.

It will always stand for the people of Archuleta County who built it and the Ortiz Family who donated the church to us as they felt their only other alternative was to bulldoze it as it was a safety hazard in Juanita. There will be a hotel, restaurant complex old village style built around the restored church. There is a delay because of a death in the family and our need to move and be with them. However, the restoration on the property was done with respect and honor for those who built it.

Sean and Kirstin McMullen

Wait 'til Spring

Dear Editor:

After absorbing your reporter's column in the July 17 SUN concerning the fracas at Dr. Mary Fisher Clinic following the San Juan Health District board's meeting of July 15, there can be little doubt that something just does not fit together very well when one considers the actions of the health district's manager that evening.

I believe you could now say that Ms. Dee Jackson represents an inharmonious element to the district's successful operation.

So how might Archuleta County rid itself of this repugnant incongruity?

Well, possibly those county voters and taxpayers who support the USJHD will actively participate spring of 2004 and just clean the entire district of its inharmonious elements.

There will be five seats up for election to the board during this time frame; if only a reasonable number of those who signed the recent recall petitions will get involved, then the USJHD can surely begin to rebuild the clinic to the voters' desires. They might even be successful at rehiring a few of the very large number of highly qualified and talented medical personnel who have resigned since Ms. Jackson was hired.

During the USJHD meeting of July 15, the current chairman of this board, Charles Hawkins, boldly stated, "The crowd here tonight only represents a very small minority in the county and does not reflect the majority wishes of the county's residents." I sense Mr. Hawkins has now issued a challenge to county voters.

Guess what Charlie? You will probably be the very first agenda item on the chopping block. Which will occur right before the newly seated board unceremoniously dumps Jackson. In the interim, you now have all the incongruous rope you need to choke up.

Got an idea for ya Charlie: Let's insert just a wee bit of levity into the fracas. Since you now have "zero:" doctors practicing at Mary Fisher Clinic, aside from the doctor just recently hired, who resides in Cortez, Ya might want to contact the "Arbolese Troglodytic Red Ryder," Mr. Bob Dungan. He might be able to recommend a solid, always on-site "horse doctor" for the district manager's acuminous evaluation and consideration. It was only a passing, mismated thought of frivolity.

Yes, a newly constituted district board next spring, which honestly cares about a sound medical care operation for the county, will even inject some intelligent decision making into its character and outlook.

It's going to be an absolutely glorious spring of 2004; just chock full of genuine Archuleta County voter "Pagosaosity."

Jim Sawicki

Shared lessons

Dear Editor:

I am taking this opportunity to extend a very sincere thank you to two representatives of our sister to the west - La Plata County.

Earlier this week Butch Knowlton, the director of La Plata County Office of Emergency Management and Joanne Spina, Assistant to the county manager, addressed a contingent of Archuleta County representatives. They brought with them a wealth of knowledge that can only be gained from direct experience. The topic? Wildfire.

The experience that La Plata County had last summer with the Missionary Ridge Fire was in so many ways, unparalleled. However, I applaud our counterparts for making good out of disaster.

From this pain and suffering, they have reviewed and analyzed the events and responses of and to the fire to learn all they could from the incident. And now, they are going the extra mile in sharing their lessons with others. Helping others to be better prepared for such a tragedy.

The points that Butch and Joanne brought to us are truly invaluable. It was a grand example of the premise "life is the best teacher of all." On behalf of the people of Archuleta County, I want to thank Butch and Joanne and La Plata County for being such a thoughtful neighbor and friend.


Bill Steele

County Administrator

Archuleta County

Doctors speak

Dear Editor:

Your local practicing doctors are working very hard to try to make sure that our patients get good quality care. We want to assure you that we will do everything we can to keep our patients healthy and well.

Unfortunately, we keep running into opposition from some individuals who have shown that they feel they can direct your medical care despite having little or no medical knowledge, training or desire to have real medical input from your local family physicians. The district board, whose stated goal is medical care, seems to avoid getting medical input into a medical system. It is time to fix the source of the problem.

We feel that the USJHSD has chosen to:

1. reconstruct a failed public clinic

2. not consider alternatives for the direction of an ambulance service which is presently in crisis

3. drive away the support of our local family doctors

4. create a split and unhappiness in our local community

5. discourage open public and medical discussion before votes are taken

6. vary meeting times, dates and places so that the doctors and public find it hard to find

7. display a total lack of vision for the future of healthcare.

In order to continue to be here to take care of your medical needs with the best medical care possible, we need a comprehensive health care system like the one already proposed and accepted - the 6-point plan. We want to modernize and improve your healthcare by working with others to create an integrated and comprehensive healthcare system that will take care of all our district patients. Why should you be forced to accept a medical system without doctor guidance?

The decisions on your health needs should be made by you and your doctor, not by a few non-medically trained individuals.

If you have any concerns, please feel free to contact us.


Dr. Jim Pruitt, Dr. Mark Wienpahl, Dr. John Piccaro, Dan Keuning, FNP, and Susan Kuhn, ANP-C


Community News

Senior News

One successful picnic in; second planned Aug. 7 at Williams Lake

By Laura Bedard

SUN Columnist

Goodness, how the summer is flying by. We are busy planning our trip to Williams Lake for our Seniors, Inc. picnic. Seniors, Inc. is generously supplying the basics: grilling meat, buns and chips, and some of our seniors are always willing to bring "extras." Phyllis Decker from the Forest Service will be giving a talk and I will bring either a kite or bubbles to decorate the sky. The date is Aug. 7; we eat at noon.

We had a successful picnic in the park. Bubbles and water occasionally flew through the air to cool and entertain us. The food is always good and plentiful and (unfortunately?) it didn't rain on us. Next month's picnic in the park is scheduled Aug. 15.

Myra Miller was here last week talking about the newest information on diabetes. She had menu suggestions, how to snack properly and many other valuable tips for keeping this challenging disease under control. The talk was well attended, but if you missed it and want some information, call us at the Center.

Walkin' with George ...

One morning recently I was feeling a little more tired than usual. On my first lap I followed the black line around the gym that makes it a rectangle. As I walked each of my laps I began to cut the corners a bit.

By the time in finished my 20th lap I had my left foot firmly planted in the center circle and only had to take three steps with my right foot to finish the lap. I finished those 20 laps in record time!

Older driver policy

A new older driver policy was adopted by the American Medical Association's House of Delegates at its national meeting last week. According to the new policy, the AMA:

- recognizes that the safety of older drivers is a growing public health concern that is best addressed through multi-sector efforts to optimize vehicle design, the driving environment, and the individual's driving capabilities

- believes that because physicians play an essential role in helping patients slow their rate of function decline, physicians should increase their awareness of medical conditions, medications, and functional deficits that may impair an individual's driving performance and counsel and manage their patients accordingly

- encourages physicians to familiarize themselves with driver assessment and rehabilitation options, refer their patients to such programs whenever appropriate and defer recommendations on permanent driving cessation until establishing that a patient's driving safety cannot be maintained through medical interventions or driver rehabilitation

- urges physicians to know and adhere to their state's reporting statutes for medical at-risk drivers

- encourages continued scientific investigation into strategies for the assessment and management of driving safety in the clinical setting

- encourages physicians to use the Physician's Guide to Assessing and Counseling Older Drivers as an educational tool to assist them in helping patients.

For more information, contact Frank Carroll at Fcaroll@aarp.org or (202)434-6007.

Visitors and guests

At our picnic in the park we got to see Judy Armistad and daughter, Donna Cooper and Jenna, Glenda Clark's granddaughter, helped us blow bubbles and keep people cool. We also got to feed Fred Ebeling and Jack Hanson - a real treat to see both of them. We also met Evelyn Kantas, Marsha Marquez, Fern Huckins, Lorna Ogdon, Deb Staley and Barb Winston. Great to see you all at the Senior Center.


Friday - 10 a.m. Qi Gong; 11 a.m. Medicare counseling; 12:30 p.m. Phyllis Decker from the Forest Service will talk about bears; 12:45, senior board meeting in Town Hall; noon, Spirit Day - wear your T-shirt and celebrate birthdays.

July 28 - 9 a.m.-noon Canastaholics meeting/class; 1 p.m. bridge for fun

July 29 - 9:30 a.m., yoga; 1030 a.m. advanced computer class

July 30 - 10:30 a.m. beginning computer class; 1 p.m. line dancing

Lunch menu

July 25 - Baked chicken, yams, peas/mushrooms and apricots

July 28 - Pot roast with veggies, spinach, plums, orange juice and biscuit

July 29 - Broccoli quiche, peas/carrots, tossed salad and apple sauce cake

July 30 - White chili, vegetable salad, cornbread, cottage cheese with fruit

Veterans Corner

Office closed for Korean cease fire ceremonies

By Andy Fautheree

SUN Columnist

The Archuleta County Veterans Service Office will be closed today and Friday while I attend the Korean War Memorial activities at Homelake Veterans Home in Monte Vista. I will be very honored to be escorting three Congressional Medal of Honor recipients throughout the events.

If you need assistance during this time please leave a message on my voice mail and I will return your call as soon as possible when I return July 28.

If you need to schedule the Veterans Service Office vehicle for VA health care appointments and it is not urgent, please leave a message with name, phone number, date, time, and location of appointment. If it is urgent, you can call Jan Santopietro in the commissioners' office at 264-2536. She will have the schedule of the VSO vehicles.

Among the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient guests of honor at the Korean War Memorial will be Capt. Raymond G. Murphy (Korea), and Cpl. Hiroshi Miyamura (Korea). I understand there will be a total of 5-6 CMOH winners.

Events scheduled

I would certainly like to urge any veterans from Archuleta County, especially Korean War veterans, to attend the Memorial activities. There will be events Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the San Luis valley.

The San Luis Valley (SLV) Ski Hi Stampede Parade will run for three consecutive days beginning 10 a.m. today. This parade will include a mass colors formation made up of representatives from Colorado and New Mexico veterans' service organizations and the area's Native American Treaty Nations.

Parade planned

A motorcade made up of vintage Korean War military vehicles and passenger vehicles transporting Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, former Prisoners of War, Republic of Korea dignitaries and honored guests over the parade route will follow the Colors.

The Korean contingents will participate in the Stampede parade today and Friday. On July 26 these same participants will be the honored guests in the Santiago parade in San Luis.

VFW Post 3228 Adams Street, Monte Vista, will host a reception for all Korean War veterans and their families each day immediately following the Ski Hi Stampede parade until 2 p.m. The Post will provide refreshments and an opportunity for veterans to socialize and obtain additional information about scheduled commemorative events.


The Ski Hi Stampede opening night concert and the Annual Rotary Club Barbecue are scheduled this evening. The guests of honor contingents will join in the Rotary Club barbecue and current plans call for their introduction during the concert to emphasize the significance of the Korean War Commemoration.

On July 26 the contingent will participate in the Fiesta de Santiago parade in San Luis at 10 a.m. Immediately after the parade these distinguished Americans and foreign dignitaries will be introduced as honored guests at the dedication of the Veteran's Memorial and other commemorative events scheduled for the San Luis Museum courtyard.

July 27 is the 50th Anniversary of the cease fire agreements ending hostilities on the Korean Peninsula in 1953. Numerous events are scheduled throughout the day to commemorate this important date.

You can call (719) 852-5118 for more specific information.

VA ID cards

In other VA related matters, the Albuquerque VA Medical Center will have its ID Card machine in Durango July 29 6-8 p.m., and July 30, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., at the LaPlata County Fairgrounds. If you are already enrolled in VA health care at Albuquerque you do not need any proof of service. They will have computers on hand to find you in their database of information.

There will be assistance on hand to help you if you are not already enrolled in VA health care. If not enrolled you will need a copy of your DD214 discharge paper, social security numbers and date of birth for you, your spouse and any children under your care. You will also need financial information of income, assets, and non-reimbursed medical and dental expense.

The special VA ID card contains important information that allows you to identify yourself at any VA facility.

For information on these and other veterans benefits please call or stop by the Archuleta County 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 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, Friday by appointment. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for registration with the County, application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.


Chamber News

Car wash was underwhelming, mediocre success

By Sally Hameister

Our Membership Appreciation Car Wash couldn't have been more fun or more successful.

We washed 61 cars and had the time of our lives seeing our faithful and loyal members smiling like crazy through their car windows. I think they were smiling because we looked so blasted hot and silly and because it's always way fun to watch other people work. Our motto for the day was, "We promise that your vehicle will be marginally cleaner than it was when you drove in." How's that for a conservative promise? You truly can't accuse us of hyperbole or over promising.

We are especially thankful to the Harms family, Ken, Jan and Jackie, for providing the most family members and for the trade they made among themselves for services rendered. "The Girls" helped us out on Saturday in exchange for Ken's help on Sunday with one of their projects. They were such good sports.

Don and Mary McKeehan showed up, of course, to put in another four hours for the Chamber, and I'm pretty sure they have now surpassed the 4,000-hour mark for time devoted to the Chamber causes. A Mother Superior's life is filled with pain and sorrow, and Mary looked painfully sorrowful on Saturday while fulfilling her washing duties.

Doug and Morna, as always, were there first and left last with set-up, break-down and a lot of work in between. The other fabulous and fun board directors who showed up to sweat and labor are Angie Gayhart, Nan Rowe, Sally Hovatter, Scott Asay and Toby Karlquist and his lovely bride, Renae. Actually, Toby and Renae and Don and Mary were celebrating their anniversaries on Saturday. Do these people know how to have a good time or what?

We are grateful to those as well who took pity on us and brought fresh-baked cookies (Jane Cook), kettle corn (Natalie Woodruff) and a bucket of ice cream (our own Sally Hovatter). We feel very fortunate to have such wonderful friends and members and can only hope that your car/truck looked a little bit better when you drove it out of our parking lot. Thanks for participating, and we look forward to providing the same mediocre, underwhelming service again next year.

Congratulations to Char Hemauer for winning a year's free Chamber membership by buying a chance on Saturday. Not a bad return on a $5 investment, Char.

Grand opening

Please join Dr. Kitzel Farrah and her crew at the San Juan Veterinary Hospital for a grand opening celebration 5-8:30 p.m. today at their new clinic, 2197 East Highway 160. I had the pleasure of a recent visit and was so impressed with both the décor (great jungle stuff) and the state-of-the-art functionality. The staff was very happy to be there and enjoying every minute of the new digs.

Please join them tonight for hors d'oeuvres, drinks and a tour of the new facility. For more information, please call 264-2629.

Grand opening #2

Got another one for you 5-8 p.m. Saturday at the new Bogey's Mini Golf on the north side of Put Hill just east of the Pizza Hut. Owner John Voden was good enough to contact me and let me know about this party, and I am more than happy to pass it along to you. You will be treated to free Coney Island Dogs, sodas and chips, live music courtesy of our own Robbie Pepper and Band, a KWUF simulcast and door prizes awarded at 7 and 8 p.m. John is also generously donating $1 of each paid admission to the local Power House Ministries.

Please join us to help celebrate the opening of a really cool new business in town.

Yet another opening

How much fun can you tolerate? I think we're about to find out with the combination of Bogey's opening and the July 31 opening of the Pagosa Bowling & Skating Family Fun Center.

I'm sure we'll be hearing much more about this opening closer to the date, but do indeed put it on your calendar. If you are interested in a Founders Fun Package with discounts for investments, please give Jonathan Morningstar a call at 731-9962.

Music in the Mountains

As I write this on Monday morning, I couldn't be more excited to announce that we are completely sold out for tonight's performance and the Aug. 1 performance, and have only 24 tickets left for Friday night. I'm guessing that by the time you read this that we will be completely sold out of the two remaining concerts. I am so delighted that we are enjoying such amazing support in Pagosa for it assures many more concerts in the future. Our undying gratitude goes out to Dave and Carol Brown of BootJack Ranch for hosting these concerts for two consecutive years and for their unflagging devotion to seeing to it that Music in the Mountains becomes a Pagosa tradition.

If we indeed still have any tickets left for the Friday night performance at BootJack, tickets are $35, and you are encouraged to arrive at least 20-30 minutes early to accommodate the parking and shuttle service. Please give Doug a call at 264-2360 with questions.

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 Heater at 731-146 or Carrie at 264-9042 for more information. This event is generously sponsored by the Pagosa Springs SUN.

Dunkin' booth

Last week I promised I would give you some names of those who have agreed to be dunked at the booth during the Fair. If you have a thing about commissioners, you can look for Mamie Lynch and Bill Downey. If you're into the school thing, look for Kahle Charles, Larry Lister, Mark DeVoti, Jack Ellis and Chris Hinger. Should you like to punish the Chamber staff, all three of us will be there at one time or another. Chief Warren Grams and Chuck Allen will represent our public protection servants, and Lee Riley will be the soaked-to-the-bone Realtor.

The Dunkin' Booth will be open 4-9 p.m. July 31, 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. 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. For more information, please call Carrie at 264-9042.

Ride the Weminuche

United Way of Southwest Colorado is holding its second annual Ride the Weminuche Trail Ride at the historic, beautiful Poma Ranch on Saturday, 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 chuck wagon lunch and raise money to support our community. The 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 to enjoy the great company and breathtaking views surrounding the Poma Ranch located 27 miles north of Hwy. 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 on Friday, Aug. 8, from 1-5 p.m. to enjoy bridge, pinochle and/or Maj 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, please call Mary at 731-5121 or Patti at 731-5213.

Home & Garden tour

This Sunday is the third annual PSAC Home Garden Tour, and you need to pick up your tickets before the end of the day on Friday. You don't want to be in the same boat as those folks who were calling us today for Music in the Mountains tickets who discovered to their dismay that it was too late.

You will find each of the six host homes boasts its own unique charm and appeal. 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.

Feel free to 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.

The ticket price for this fundraiser tour is $10, and the deadline for purchase is end of the work day Friday. Please call Marti at 731-9770 for more information.

Duck Race

The Knights of Columbus announce their first-ever Duck Race and Picnic to be held in Town Park Saturday, Aug. 16. from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. This family event in the park will feature a barbecue, music, games for the kids, a raffle for prizes and big money for winners in the duck race. You could win $1,000 for first prize, $500 for second and $100 for third, and that ain't chicken feed. All proceeds will be go benefit the Knights of Columbus, so be sure to go out and support this event. Please call 731-0253 or 731-3741 for more details.


It is ever so nice to introduce three new members this week and five renewals. We do love to welcome new folks to our special group of movers and shakers and acknowledge those whose heightened intellect compels them to renew. Ya gotta love this town.

Nate Morehouse joins us this week with Morehouse Ranch on County Road 302. Nate offers horse boarding with private runs equipped with loafing sheds. Horses are fed twice a day and turned out for two hours twice a day with full use of their round pen and arena. Colts started. To learn more about what Nate can do for your equine needs, please call 264-6786.

Timothy W. Sharp joins us next with Mountain Storm Interiors in the Mountain Run Plaza. These good folks offer architectural lighting displays and sales as well as lighting planning and layout. Electrical contracting and P.E. engineering are also available to you at Mountain Storm Interiors. For more information, please call Timothy at 731-0227. We thank our local United Way coordinator, Kathi DeClark for recruiting Timothy and will cheerfully send off a pass for a free SunDowner with our thanks.

Our third new member this week is Sara Pepper who brings us Pagosa Liquor on North Pagosa Boulevard. Sara offers liquor, beer, wine and microbrews and will give you a 10 percent discount when you mention that you heard about her in this column or on the Chamber "Good Morning, Pagosa!" show on KWUF Radio. That's a mighty fine deal, kids. If you have questions for Sara, please give her a call at 731-4801. We thank Barbara and Doug Drane with Impact Printing and Graphics for recruiting Sara, and invite them to enjoy a free SunDowner on us.

Our renewals this week include Heidi and Shawn Frank with the Italian Kitchen; Kathy Koy with the Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center; Cynthia Purcell with the San Juan Conservation District ; Robert and Susan Kanyur with Barnwood Crafts and Judy Nicholson with Civil Design Team, Inc. Thank you all so much.


Library News

Mystery thriller has sister in limelight

By Lenore Bright

SUN Columnist

Jan Brookshier told us about her sister's new mystery thriller "Perhaps She'll Die" which we purchased for our collection. Jan's sister is M.K. Preston, and her heroine is Chantalene.

The setting is a small town in Oklahoma and as one reviewer put it, "it takes you into the heart of the heartland, where they still witch for water and you can hear the sound of wind-whipped clothes on the line and feel buffalo grass on bare legs."

Another said, "Šthe kind of suspense that pulls you in on the first page and keeps you awake into the wee hours."

It's a well-written debut and we expect many more good reads from the author

M.K. edits and publishes a trade magazine for writers. She lives in Oklahoma where she gardens and dodges tornadoes. Jan can be proud of her talented sister. Jan and M.K., two talented daughters in that Oklahoma family.

Scratch and sniff

The Colorado Department of Wildlife sends wonderful brochures on a variety of wildlife. This month they featured skunks and porcupines. They offer a homemade remedy in case your pet had a run-in with a skunk.

Tomato juice is not very effective.

They suggest: mix one quart peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid soap. Shampoo the pet with this concoction, let soak five minutes, then rinse well. Throw away any leftover mixture and don't get it in the pet's eyes. Ask for a copy of the brochure at the desk.

Student loan program

Quick Facts About the program are available at the desk. The phone number is (303) 305-3000.


We are grateful for financial help for our building fund from Mary Miller in memory of Lee Sterling and materials from Merrian and David Paul, Scotty Gibson, Glenn Schneider, Glenn Raby, Misty Wilfer, Margaret and Jim Wilson, Catherine Krestin, Bev Pruitt, Bonnie and Jim Coats, Carol Curtis, Stick Horse Enterprises, Elvis and Linda Ream.

Final Chews to Read

More than 270 signed up for the program and 138 children completed their contract. They read 3,602 books during the six weeks. The youngest was Sierra Noel Baker - age six weeks. Donna McFarland - an adult (age kept secret) - was the oldest. Ayriana Rackham guessed 853 jellybeans in the jar (there were 858.)

Last readers of the week were: Colby Anderson-Andresen, Ivy Armijo, Joey Berndt, Breezy Bryant, Trevor Bryant, Timothy Cochran, Brock Cordova, Zackary Curvey, Julia LeLievere, Mele LeLievre, Erick Medina-Chavez, Melissa Medina-Chavez, Jennifer Mueller, Mattisen Mundall, Jordan Neuleib, Nicholas Piccaro, Sarah Sanna, Kudra Wagner. Congratulations to all of the readers and their families. And thanks to Barb Draper and her volunteers who helped make this a most successful program.




Jack and Kendra Bridges are proud to announce the birth of their daughter Chloe Bell Bridges. Born June 18 in Durango, she weighed 6 pounds 13 ounces and was 19 inches long. Also welcoming Chloe to the family are her maternal grandparents, Jerry and Debi Hilsabeck and paternal grandparents, Matt and Lynne Bridges; as well as many loving cousins, aunts, uncles, great-grandparents and friends. We are all so blessed to have Chloe in our lives.


Business News

High quality equine structures can be built on your land by Southwest Equine Shelters.

Bill Gowing has 24 years experience in the southern Colorado and northern New Mexico area. He moved here two years ago with his wife, Cindy, from Tulsa, Okla.

Southwest Equine Shelters can build barns, indoor riding arenas, loafing sheds, tack rooms and more.

They are built on site with rough-sawn lumber and colored pro-panel roofing. The structures are sturdy, have a comfortable look and are horse friendly.

A few are portable but all are modular, allowing you to convert your shed into a barn if you would like to do so in the future.

Southwest Equine Structures is located in Pagosa Springs but also services the greater southern Colorado and Four Corners area.

Additional information on structure types and specifications is available by visiting the firm's very detailed Web site at www.sw equineshelters.com.

Gowing can be reached at 731-3563.



Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Donlon are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Erin Marie Donlon, to Benjamin James Davis, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Davis of Pagosa Springs and Mr. and Mrs. Jean Poitras of Lake Havasu, Ariz. The couple will be married Aug. 23 in Pagosa Springs and plan to reside in Florida.


Resha Rayne Watkins of Pagosa Springs has been named to the Dean's Honor Roll for the 2003 Spring semester at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla.

The honor requires a 3.4 grade point average and no grade below C.



Playing the pipes

Pagosa man reaches back to his roots

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

They're haunting. Lovely. Their sound invokes memories of days and wars long forgotten. Lads and lassies. Kings and queens. Pride and brave tears.

They are the bagpipes, an ancient instrument of endurance and enchantment born in the Middle East. Later in their long history they became Scotland's national instrument. There, warriors proud in distinctive kilts made them famous in war.

In the United States today, bagpipes are heard mostly at special events. Weddings. Funerals. Memorial services. Especially those honoring fallen law enforcement officers.

But go to the end of the gravel on Meadows Boulevard in Pagosa Springs, listen carefully, and its possible to hear the powerful notes floating on the evening breeze. It is there that Jim Dorian practices his pipes in the evenings.

"I go out on the porch and play," he said. "If I don't do it for two or three days the neighbors will call."

Dorian is the lone Pagosa member of the Westwind Pipe Band, a bagpipe group with members from all around the Four Corners.

"Jim has just always wanted to do it (play the bagpipes)," his wife, Becky, said. "He loves doing it."

However, it took a little push to get him to started six years ago.

"For my sixtieth birthday my kids gave me a set of bagpipes and sort of forced my hand," Dorian said.

Of course he was interested, just stalling. Dorian's maternal grandparents actually emigrated from Scotland to New Mexico. Their surname was McRae, he said, although it was eventually Americanized to simply Ray.

Intrigued by the history, Dorian bought a family kilt in the mid-1980s. Once he got the bagpipes, he went looking for a teacher and put the whole thing together. He got the basics down and joined the Boone County Fire Department bagpipe band in Columbia, Mo. The Dorians had a business on Lake of the Ozarks at the time.

He and his wife moved to Pagosa Springs permanently two and a half years ago. Here, he's found the Westwinds, and they keep the family going most of the year. Two weeks ago, the band played at the Celtic Festival in Durango. Last weekend it was off to Flagstaff for another festival. Plus practices on Sundays.

And practice is a must, Dorian said.

"It's a pretty difficult instrument," he said, "but it depends on your desire. I was really kind of committed so I worked pretty hard at it."

Bagpipers never use lyries to hold music. They must memorize it. All of it. About 20 tunes if a player wants to earn a spot in a band. They are also required to maintain a certain level of endurance. To play the pipes successfully, a bagpiper must blow enough air to keep the three drones, two tenor and one bass, playing constantly at a steady volume.

"There's no loud and soft," Becky said, "just loud. All loud and nine notes." The notes are played through the chanter.

"The limitation is the nine notes," Dorian said. That makes playing Amazing Grace possible. The Star Spangled Banner on the other hand is out of the question.

To keep from deafening everyone in the house, Dorian practices using a chanter without the bag. That's easier on his lungs, but keeps the songs fresh in his memory.

"You've got to practice every day," he said. It also helps to jog or do some other kind of aerobic workout to keep up endurance for things like parades which can be quite taxing. And then there's keeping in tune, a real challenge with a double reed that's located in the middle of the chanter. Unlike the oboe and some other woodwinds, where the double reed is placed in a player's mouth, the reed on the bagpipes is located inside the chanter. The placement makes it very difficult to keep the pipes in tune, Dorian said. If conditions are too hot, too cold, too dry or too wet, the instrument will get out of tune quickly.

Take Pagosa's parade, where Westwinds played about eight songs.

"We stood at the high school and tuned all up and then we stood around in the heat and the sun. Pretty soon everyone was out of tune, and they don't get out of tune the same because they're all a little different."

Despite the difficulties, Dorian said the interest in bagpipes spiked after 9/11. Everytime they showed a memorial service, he said, someone was playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. For awhile, the interest in learning was so high it became almost impossible to find a set.

"Everyone was sold out."

And many of the newcomers are women. "We'll start with eight, maybe three will finish the class and two are women," he said.

Besides playing in parades and festivals, the Westwinds also play for weddings, funerals and memorial services in the Four Corners area. Dorian said at Christmas time they tour the area nursing homes - they're hoping to add Pagosa's this year.

Dorian said he enjoys playing because it's something most people like to hear.

"It's a novelty," he said. "A lot of people have heard them on television but have never seen someone play in person. It's fun to be able to do that for them."

He's even taught a few classes himself. A local high school student and now his own grandson.

Of course, not everybody likes the bagpipes. There are the standard jokes. Take this one for instance: "What's the definition of a gentleman?" Answer: "Someone who knows how to play the bagpipes and doesn't."

But most of the time, the group is welcome with open arms. And maybe a few tears.


Pagosa's Past

Armed desperadoes a force

to reckon with in early days

By John M. Motter

PREVIEW Columnist

We've been talking about Pagosa Country during the years between 1870 and 1885.

Those were the pioneering years, the years when gold was discovered in the San Juans. Pagosa Country was still part of the Ute reservation, but the miners didn't care. They invaded the reservation confident that the promise of gold was worth the risk. Other settlers followed the miners.

Fearful that conflict between Ute and Anglo would lead to a blood bath, the Army sent troops into the area. Yet another treaty with the Utes was negotiated in 1873. The Brunot Treaty reduced the size of the reservation one more time and allowed for more settlers. A fort was planted at Pagosa Springs in 1878.

And Gen. Palmer of Colorado Springs was building a narrow gauge railroad from Denver to the San Juan gold fields so the rich ores could be shipped to market.

By 1881 Palmer's Denver and Rio Grande had crossed the Southern Rockies and reached Amargo between today's Chama and Dulce, only 30 miles south of Pagosa Springs. Chama had been founded circa 1880 as part of the railroad advance. Pagosa Springs had been founded in 1877-78 as home to Fort Lewis. Dulce, first known as Dulce Springs, was probably settled by the Gomez family in 1876.

No history research that I am aware of has focused on this area to tell us who was living along the Amargo River between Monero and the Colorado state line prior to the coming of the railroad. It is known that the Gomez family was present. Their family tradition says they named Dulce, because of the sweetness of the water from the spring. Amargo, by way of contrast, means sour referring to the alkaline water found there.

The Archuleta family is also said to have moved to the area in 1876. It is likely that Garcias, Cordovas, Montoyas, Luceros, and perhaps others were also in the area by 1876. A community called Navajo existed at the junction of the Amargo and Navajo rivers, where the railroad water tower still stands. Certainly Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo traders and trappers had been following well-established trails through the area for a long time. One of those trails might have passed through Amargo.

We don't know when Amargo started. It was likely a camping site on one of those early trails. In any case, the railroad reached Amargo by 1881. And in 1881, the federal government established Amargo as Jicarilla agency headquarters for a reservation being established there. Until then, the homeless tribe had most recently been receiving rations at Tierra Amarilla. In fact, the Jicarilla were scattered from TA to Cimarron to Abiquiu and points in between. Supplies for the new agency arrived in October of 1881, but the Indians did not finish coming in until January of 1882. Crossing the mountains of northern New Mexico was not an easy winter task.

Unfortunately for the Jicarilla, settlers in the area protested the reservation so loudly and with the backing of influential men such as former Colorado Sen. Henry Teller, succeeded in killing the idea. By mid-1883, the Jicarilla were sent to the Mescalero Reservation. They returned in 1887 to settle permanently on the reservation they retain until this day.

I mention the Jicarilla presence around Amargo only as evidence of the causes of tension in Pagosa Country during this time. The Jicarilla came to the Amargo area in response to a government promise that at long last, they would find a home. They left for the Mescalero reservation largely because the government brought in troops and forced them to go.

Last week we quoted from memoirs dictated by Harry Jackson, who, as a young man operated a blacksmith shop in Amargo for a short time.

"Sometime before I had met Jim Catron, leader of a gang of desperadoes, and had put a sight on his six-shooter free of charge, although he offered to pay; this made him a good friend to me. After Johnson (a deputy sheriff who took Jackson's gun away from him for firing it just to hear the sound) took my gun to Chama, I told Catron about it, and Catron said, 'Just wait, I'll get that gun for you,' and sure enough in three days my gun came back to me.

"Just to show that Catron's friendship meant something, Joe Starret came to me and said that Jimmy Catron's gang had stolen a lot of cattle from his wife's father, a Mr. Phelps of Farmington, and that the cattle were right close by. At Starret's request, I asked Catron for the release of the cattle and he promptly told his boys 'Turn those cattle back.'

"In Amargo at this time another gang of desperadoes was headed by Charley Allison; they had their camp in a little grove right below town. They all lived in a big tent, and I used to go down there evenings and visit with them and have a good time. They were all young fellows, had a fine bunch of horses and each carried two guns. I sometimes thought to myself that I would like to be one of them, but I was not invited to join them.

"One day at noon the stage from Chama, carrying passengers to Durango, rolled in and stopped at the General Store; at once this Allison gang held up the stage, then held up the store and so made a general clean-up. I was working in the shop and heard the shooting - they fired a lot of shots to intimidate the passengers. Among them was Mr. Peter Keegan, a D. & R. G. contractor, who later lived in Durango; he later lost his watch and money. This holdup occurred in broad daylight, and as soon as it was over the young desperadoes went back to their camp and took a nap; nobody bothered them in the least. This gang lasted for quite awhile, but most of them were finally captured and the leader sent to jail for a long time."

Motter's comment: The Catron and Allison gangs were only a few of the lawless breed of men inhabiting Pagosa Country at the time. During 1881, the Allison gang also held up businesses in Chama at gunpoint, then a couple of days later held up the stagecoach just west of Pagosa Springs. Following the stagecoach holdup, the gang rode into Pagosa Springs and held up the James Voorhees store located on east San Juan Street. Voorhees later opened a store in Amargo and that is where he died. His remains are interred in the pioneer cemetery in Pagosa Springs, but his estate was probated in New Mexico.

Jackson mentions the stage between Chama and Durango. At first the stage ran from Chama to Pagosa Springs across Chama Hill, then on to Animas City or Durango. Later, it apparently ran from Chama to Amargo to Durango, according to Jackson. At a still later time, when the railhead had reached Arboles, the stage likely ran directly from Arboles through Allison and on to Durango. Next week we'll tune in as Jackson visits Arboles when that community was a railhead.


Hope springs eternal

What an embarrassment; one can only hope it will end soon.

This sentiment has been expressed of late by many Pagosans,

in many places, at many times. The hope has been stretched thin over at least a year's time but, pardon the cliché, hope springs eternal. The cast of the ongoing soap opera we know as the "Upper San Juan Health Service District Show" continues to deliver award-winning performances, but it is a show in desperate need of cancellation.

We can only hope.

The rumor mill works overtime regarding this situation, fed amply by continued plot twists, but one thing is for sure: every member of the cast, on every side of the issue, has contributed to the dilemma - a problem in the making for many years and one that, with effective and strong elected leadership, could have been nipped in the bud and solved at least a year ago.

The leadership and clear-sighted action was not present as the situation gestated, bloomed then mutated into its present form. Coupled with a profound lack of restraint and reason from other quarters, timid board performance enabled an epic that, were it not for potentially serious ramifications for all residents of the district, would be comic.

Whether the decision by the district board last week to seek to reestablish a publicly-funded medical clinic will provide an avenue out of the situation remains to be seen. The district and local physicians seem to be at an impasse, a wide gulf carved between them; will other physicians and professionals be willing to fill the void and, if so, what quality care will they provide? What type of service will they be allowed to provide?

Each side in the recent divorce - the former staff at the clinic and district management - point the finger at each other when it comes time to assess responsibility. Outside elements have consistently misled and enflamed the public with exaggeration and rumor. Is it realistic to assume these behaviors will cease, even when a new private practice is established in the community?

Will this board have the wherewithal to deal with the situation? After all, it is alleged by some that board members never entered into serious negotiations with proponents of district-aided privatization of the previous medical regime at the clinic. It is also alleged the board was resistant to input from local physicians and members of a Medical Advisory Committee formed to assist the board during recent deliberations.

The district's problem continues across U.S. 160 from the clinic.

It is no secret there has been deep discontent among some personnel at Emergency Medical Services, the second division funded and administered by the district. There has been significant turnover in personnel, complaints voiced concerning management practices that echo complaints heard from the clinic. Ideas have been floated at public meetings advocating transfer of Emergency Medical Services to the Pagosa Fire Protection District.

The bottom line: what was once a fairly simple problem has become incredibly complex, muddied by emotion.

It's a mess, but that said, it is also time to hope for the best.

The board made a decision last week. Agree with that decision or not, we must acknowledge the directors did what they were elected or appointed to do. They sit on the board to come to conclusions, to vote for what they believe is in the best interests of the residents of the district. They have set out a route and, now, they must make the trip. They will be judged on how well their decision plays out. Until the voters have an opportunity to determine at least five seats on the board at a May 2004 election, the hope that springs eternal must keep us afloat in what remains a stormy sea.

Karl Isberg


Pacing Pagosa

Case of mistaken gesticulation



By Richard Walter

There is something mysterious about people talking on the telephone.

They don't just talk, they make hand gestures, arm gestures, waves and twists as they talk.

I've seen people doing it who do not do so when they talk to you in person, people who probably do not realize they are doing it.

As I write this, there is a woman sitting in an SUV outside our office window talking on a cell phone - arms waving and fingers pointing. At least she's not on the road while doing it.

But, I've seen in recent days a driver with a cell phone in one hand, one hand on the steering wheel - barely, and a dog in his lap with its head out the window. Thank God that driver wasn't gesticulating to the person out of view on the other end of the telephone call.

I will admit that I sometimes use my hands when talking, in order to describe the size of an item or the direction something was taking.

I don't think, however, that I utilize hand movements when talking on the telephone - other than those necessary to take notes on the comments of the person I'm talking to.

Of course, there are the rare moments after an unusually absurd telephone conversation when the pen drops from hand and body motions indicate incredulity at the comments recently heard.

Waving and finger-pointing, however, don't make my trait list.

One wonders why such actions are taken. Do the people making them feel their verbal commentary is enhanced by the feeling of relief they get from physical accompaniment?

Do the listeners on the other end gesture back without being seen?

It might make a good research study for our federal government. You know it, of course, that august body which regularly appropriates funding for all forms of studies about deviant behavior, not only of humans, but of all life forms.

Well I remember the infamous appropriation for study of the mating habits of the African tsetse fly several years ago. It raised a furor among Americans more interested in research on causes of and cures for major disease such as cancer.

Still, I'm not sure there was arm waving and finger pointing over the telephone like there was in the public hearings on the funding request. (It was, by the way, approved. I don't, however, remember ever hearing any conclusions from the study conducted).

The point is that we all should understand our own needs in terms of physical relief of tension. Pulling off the road to talk on a cell phone is an excellent idea, particularly if you're given to gesticulation.

After all, a passing driver or a pedestrian at a walk light might interpret the moves as something more than enhancement of a verbal point to the cell phone caller's listener.

It just might result in a return of hand signs and, before you know it, a case of road rage has erupted on the streets of Pagosa Springs.

And then there's the officer called to find out what happened. Who's going to tell the representative of law enforcement the whole thing was a case of mistaken gesticulation?



90 years ago

Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era files of July 25, 1913

Few if any large trout have been caught in the San Juan River this year. We mean trout that weighed six to eight pounds. Fishing is good, however, and large strings are easily caught by experienced anglers.

C.M. Smith and Ike Jones, who are drilling a 200-foot well on the Sam Sullenberger ranch near Dyke, report the work nearly done. While a small flow of soft water has been encountered, the volume is not sufficient for Mr. Sullenberger's purposes.

Dry ranches in the southern part of the county are not doing as well this season as usual.

The Houser Mill will be held at Sunetha until the owner, the Pagosa Lumber Co., finds work for it at a new set.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of July 27, 1928

D.D. Pargin, who is a visitor in Pagosa today from his Piedra ranch, informs us of the excellent results that he has recently accomplished in the matter of exterminating the prairie dogs from his home ranch. He secured a new poison from Denver. The Archuleta County commissioners are considering the purchase of the new poison for use throughout the county at cost prices.

Archuleta County receives the sum of $1,083.94 as its share of the state public school income fund for the first half of 1928, which is apportioned by the state superintendent of public instruction.

It is rumored that J. Jacobson, Jr., better know as "Yock," will be a candidate for the nomination of county sheriff on the Republican ticket.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of July 24, 1953

The new bridge across the San Juan River from the Town Park was completed this week and opened for traffic on Thursday. It is sturdily constructed and should serve the town for some years to come. The Town Board has not reached a decision concerning the replacement of the bridge at the old location.

War on the grasshoppers in Archuleta County got underway in earnest with the arrival of three spraying units this past week. The outfits belong to the Bureau of Entomology. The swarms of grasshoppers have been on the increase each week this month, and while the rains slow them down temporarily, it is not expected that the overall results of the rain will make many inroads on the number of hoppers.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of July 27, 1978

This has been a week of more hot weather, with the mercury climbing to 87 degrees one day, but it has also been a week when there were some scattered showers throughout the area. To date July is one of the driest in many years, and more rain is needed. Weather forecasts are for continued scattered showers over and near the mountains.

A truck trap, the first in this part of the state, and one of the very few in Colorado, is being constructed on Wolf Creek Pass. Purpose of the construction is a turnoff where run-a-way trucks may leave the highway and be brought to a stop by a steep grade and a deep sand road bed. They have been successful in preventing accidents in some other states and should be on the pass.