December 24, 2003 

Front Page

County approves sewer extension along U.S. 84

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Archuleta County commissioners moved forward last week with a plan to extend sewer services to county fairground facilities within the next year.

According to Bill Steele, county administrator, two potential piping routes for the project were given consideration - one traveling down Mill Creek Road and across Mountain Crossing - and another crossing and running along U.S. 84.

After geo-technical evaluations and commentary from Sue Walan, county engineer, the board decided Dec. 16 the more feasible of the two is the route along U.S. 84.

According to Walan, plans to extend the pipeline along the Mill Creek Road route could possibly have affected an adjacent artesian well and a nearby man-made lake.

While there is some level of concern that a shale outcropping along the chosen route may hinder the effort, "My experience is that shale rarely needs to be blasted," concluded Walan.

While apparently posing less of a risk to the environment, the U.S. 84 route also carries a lesser price tag. Current estimates place the cost in the $120,000 to $130,000 range, whereas the Mill Creek route estimate amounts to over $150,000.

In addition, a few residents living in the vicinity of the proposed route may be able to tie into the new line in the future.

Earmarked for the project as a result of action taken by the board last week are $95,000 in encumbered, "carry-over" funds from the 2003 county budget (from the Capital Improvement Fund) and an appropriation of $35,000 in the 2004 budget.

In other business last week, the board:

- certified all mill levies/revenue sources within county boundaries for 2004

- approved the annual U.S. Department of Agriculture Work and Financial Plan regarding county pest control for 2004

- agreed to move forward with interviews after accepting four bids from applicants for the county attorney post

- appointed Kathy Conway as the Emergency Medical Services representative on the Southwest Regional Emergency and Trauma Council

- accepted/approved an annual grant and resolution authorizing the provision of public transportation (Mountain Express) services in non-urbanized areas

- approved a request from the public works department to waive the $1 Christmas tree recycling fee at the county landfill until further notice.


Gasoline pump confrontation leads to menacing count against Aztec man

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

An altercation at a local gas station in which a man was threatened with a gun led to menacing charges.

According to Pagosa Springs Police Department reports, a 53-year-old Pagosa resident was with his family at the Conoco station east of town Dec. 19 about 1 p.m. when the incident occurred. The argument started when the Pagosa man asked the driver of another vehicle to move away from the gas pumps.

A verbal argument ensued, and at one point the other driver reached between the seats for what an investigation later determined to be a loaded 357 revolver. The argument continued with the owner of the gun, a 63-year-old Aztec man, threatening to "blow away" the other man. At that point, the Pagosa man backed away and called law enforcement, giving a description of the vehicle.

Both the Colorado State Patrol and Archuleta County Sheriff's Department searched for the vehicle. It, the suspect and the revolver were eventually located in the Chimney Rock area. The suspect was transported to the Pagosa Springs Police Department.

Police Investigator Scott Maxwell said the Aztec man was charged with menacing and released on a summons. The gun was seized as evidence.


Group of tough judges hard-pressed in naming lighting contest winners

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

A family living on Fiesta Place is the first-place winner in the annual Christmas lighting contest sponsored by Colorado Dream Homes.

The $500 first place prize goes to Don Chippendale of 80 Fiesta Place.

Second place and a $200 prize went to Dan Winter of 157 S. 8th St., and third place to Shawn Curvey of 282 Sam Houston Ave.

Honorable mentions, with $25 prizes for each, went to:

Crystal Pfeiffle, 7 Garnet Ave.; Jerry Lucero, 274 S. 7th St.; Chris and Lauri Patane, 208 Pineview in Continental Village; Arthur Villareal, 10373 W. U.S. 160; Greg and Dena Schick, 4186 E. U.S. 160; Lisa Montoya, 274 S. 8th St.; Gary Daigle, 127 Pineview Drive; Rich Goebel, 107 Redwood Drive; E.; and B. Witkowski, 25 Coyote Drive in Holiday Acres; and Dave and Pat Payne at 20 Beech Court.

Twenty-two judges were utilized for the contest, with each viewing every entry and giving a score of 1-10 with the highest possible cumulative score being 220.

The three top winners had 214, 185 and 183 points respectively.

Sponsors note "the judges were very tough this year, with not a single perfect score given."

Anyone who would like to tour the entries can pick up a map showing their locations at the sponsor offices on Put Hill.


Guns, knives, jewelry among items stolen from Branding Iron

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

Local business owners returned to Pagosa Springs after Thanksgiving only to find their gift shop inventory dramatically reduced - by thieves.

According to Archuleta County Sheriff's Department reports, a total of 13 replica guns, 13 other firearms, 100 knives, 126 pieces of jewelry, 15 rocks, eight pieces of replica movie star jewelry, a television, two speakers, seven Tauga nut carvings and a wireless microphone attachment were stolen from the Branding Iron Bar-B-Que east of Pagosa Springs.

The burglary happened sometime between Nov. 25 and Dec. 6. Entry was forced, and most of the items were taken from the gift shop area. The crime was discovered and reported to the sheriff's department Dec. 7.

Sheriff's Detective T.J. Fitzwater encouraged anyone with information regarding this crime or the whereabouts of the stolen property to call the Archuleta County Sheriff's Department at 264-2131.

A reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the offender or offenders involved.



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'Significant snowstorm' may arrive Christmas night

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Pagosa Country residents hoping for a white Christmas probably won't wake Thursday morning to find the landscape cloaked in a fresh veil of snow.

Such wishes could be granted by late afternoon or early evening, however, according to the latest regional forecasts.

"A significant snowstorm may move through the area late Thursday night and remain through Friday night," reads this weekend's winter weather advisory for the Four Corners area from the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction.

According to the bulletin, "Though the storm is still developing with storm strength and movement remaining uncertain, significant snowfall is possible in the mountains and even the lower elevations.

"Currently, Friday and Friday night have the highest chances for snow ... people making plans over the holiday weekend should monitor the latest forecasts on this developing storm," the message concludes.

In the meantime, partly-cloudy conditions are expected to last throughout today and into tonight, with high temperatures predicted in the 40s and lows in the 5-15 range.

The forecast for Christmas includes partly-cloudy skies, a 40-percent chance for snow, highs in the upper 30s to mid-40s and lows in the teens.

Overcast conditions are in the forecast for Friday, along with a 30-40 percent chance for snow, highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s.

A decreasing snow chance and mostly-cloudy skies are expected from Saturday through Monday, with highs each day foreseen in the upper 20s to mid-30s. Lows should range from the single digits to middle teens.

A 40-50 percent chance for scattered snow showers returns to the forecasts for Tuesday and Wednesday; highs should peak in the 40s, while lows should plunge into the single digits.

The average high temperature recorded last week at the Fred Harman Art Museum was 40 degrees. The average low for the week was 16. Precipitation/moisture totals for the week amounted to three-tenths of an inch; snow depth totaled three inches.

Wolf Creek Ski Area reports a summit depth of 69 inches, a midway depth of 65 inches and a year-to-date snowfall total of 141 inches.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reports the current avalanche danger in the southern San Juan Mountains is "low" to "moderate."

The latest reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture describe regional drought conditions as "severe."

According to the latest SNOTEL data, the snow-water equivalent level for the Upper San Juan Basin is currently at 145 percent of average.

San Juan River flow ranged from approximately 30 cubic feet per second to 75 cubic feet per second last week. The river's historic median flow for the week of Dec. 25 is roughly 55 cubic feet per second.


Sports Page

Parks & Rec

Helpers needed for January leagues

By Joe Lister Jr.

SUN Columnist

We are in the process of looking for game officials, scorekeepers and gym attendants.

Please look for a meeting to be announced at a later date. If you have any questions, please stop by or call Myles at 264-4151, Ext. 232.

Games will begin Jan. 8, so get your application in for any of these jobs.

Adult basketball

With most of the gym times taken with the youth basketball league, we hope to have open gym time starting in early to mid- January.

Start putting your rosters together for the 2004 season. We plan to have men's recreation league, men's competitive league, and a women's league.

Elks Hoop Shoot

Local age-group winners of the annual Elks Hoop Shoot are:

- 8-9 - Kane Lucero for boys and Brooke Spears for girls

- 10-11 - Tyson Ross, boys, and Mary Brinton, girls

- 12-13 - Taylor Shaffer, boys, and Azure Lord girls.

Congratulations to all participants in a record turnout this year. The winners will advance to a regional shootout on Jan. 10.

Tree recycling

Please remember Archuleta County and the Town of Pagosa Springs annual tree recycling program when you are ready to dispose of your tree.

Locations for dropoffs will be South Pagosa Park on 8th Street, and the transfer station on Trujillo Road. All trees will be mulched up and used in the parks system. Disposal and mulching is free.

Please take all decorations off prior to dropping off your tree.

Holiday thoughts

I would like to thank everyone who has volunteered this year in all aspects of town parks and recreation. We could not offer what we do with out your valuable help.

Our advisory board, with approximately 12 meetings a year, is also a volunteer group, and is much appreciated.

We hope everyone has a safe holiday season, and to see you all come back as volunteers in 2004.


Jewell's buzzer-beater pushes Ladies past Trinidad 40-38

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Call them inconsistent, call them lucky, call them a team developing a personality.

And after sweeping their three games in the Rye Girls Classic last weekend, you can call them the 7 and 1 Pagosa Springs Lady Pirates

After demoralizing Florence, blowing a lead and then coming back for a win over La Junta, they scored at the final buzzer for a 40-38 win over Trinidad late Saturday.

It was a game in which Pagosa roared to a 13-3 first quarter lead under a barrage of shots from junior forward Lori Walkup, surrendered that lead with a terrible shooting performance in the second period and then watched as it moved one or two points toward each side throughout the rest of the game.

That it all came down to the final buzzer and a victory-capper on an eight-footer from the left side by junior center Caitlyn Jewell was triumph over some questionable officiating.

But back to the beginning.

The Lady Miners were down 8-0 almost before they knew it as Walkup hit four-for-four. The lead grew to 10-0 when Jewell cashed a pair from the charity stripe.

Kristin Mason hit a trey for Trinidad's only points of the period before Jewell answered with a deuce inside on a feed by Jessica Lynch.

Emily Buikema rounded out the first period for Pagosa with a single free throw and the period ended 13-3 in the Pirates favor.

But, by the end of the half, the Pirate lead had disappeared, Trinidad went on a trey binge, and Pagosa's 11 point margin had become a five-point deficit.

Only the inside banging of sophomore forward Caitlin Forrest kept Pagosa close in the period as she picked up four of her eight game points on offensive rebound putbacks and blocked a shot.

Her only help offensively came on single free throws by Lynch and Melissa Maberry.

Trinidad, on the other hand, put six players in the scoring column including eight from Ashley Ackerman with two threes and a deuce to pave the way.

She was joined in the three-point parade by Stacy Vasquez. Mellody Rivera also added three, with a standard field goal and a free throw. Mason had two free throws, Ashley DiPaolo one and Kali Gipson, who was five for five from the line in the game, hit her first four.

One key to the disparity between first and second quarters was the fact Walkup was called for three fouls in the first two minutes of the second period and languished on the bench for the balance.

Another was the sudden freeze on the Pirate basket. They shot only two of 10 (both by Forrest) from the floor in the period.

And then the seesaw was brought into play. Neither team could mount a consistent attack in the second half though Pagosa outscored the Miners 8-5 in the third period to cut the lead to 29-27.

That surge included single field goals from each of the three inside powers - Jewell, Forrest and Buikema - and a pair of charity tosses by Forrest.

Trinidad's five came on Ackerman's third trey and a deuce by Mason.

Scott opened the fourth with an eight-foot jumper to tie but Ackerman answered with a two-pointer of her own to take it back.

Lynch came back with a three-pointer from the left wing to give Pagosa a short-lived lead. Mason took it back with a driving layup off a double screen.

DiPaolo stretched the margin to three with flip back over her head that went in but Buikema cut it back to one with a pair of free throws.

The score stood at 37-36 in favor of Trinidad with 40 seconds showing on the clock. Gipson's final free throw made it 38-36 before Jewell banged her way inside and tied the score at 38-38 with 16 seconds remaining.

On the ensuing possession by Trinidad Jewell might have gone from heroine to goat thanks to a foul called that no one saw except the referee across the floor from where it was called.

Ackerman, the Miners point leader stepped to the foul line on a one and one - and missed.

Pagosa possession.

Across the time line at the six second mark and a time out called.

Scott in-bounds to Walkup in the left corner. Bounce pass inside to Jewell who leaps and fires.

Off the backboard, into the net, buzzer sounds and a Pagosa victory has the Lady Pirates dancing for joy and coach Bob Lynch wiping his brow.

"We knew we had to stop Ackerman down the stretch, and held her to just one field goal," he said.

He was excited for Jewell who had been in a three-game shooting slump but redeemed herself with the two last-minute buckets and overcame the foul that wasn't.

For the game Pagosa shot only 12 of 43 from the floor and Trinidad just 11 of 44. The Pirates were 11 of 17 from the foul line, Trinidad 11 of 14. Each team was called for 15 fouls. Pagosa had a 22-9 rebounding edge.

The sweep left the Lady Pirates ready to take a few days off to recoup from a variety of nagging wounds. Under state regulations, they cannot practice for 10 days and the coach cannot work with them during that time.

They can, however, work out on their own.

The Pagosans will return to the court Jan. 8 when they go to Dolores for a 6:30 p.m. game and the following night will travel to Aztec for another 6:30 non-league encounter. They will open Intermountain League play at home Jan. 16 against Bayfield.


Scoring: P-Scott, 2 1-2; Lynch, 3 0-2 1-2 threes, 1-2; Kelley, 2, 0-4, 2-4; Walkup, 8, 4-11, 0-1; Maberry, 1, 0-0, 1-2; Jewell, 10, 4-4, 2-2; Buikema, 5, 1-8, 3-4; Forrest, 8, 4-6, 2-2; T- Ackerman, 13, 2-12, 0-1; Rivera, 3, 2-4, 1-1; Vasquez, 3; Mason, 11, 2-4, 4-4; DiPaolo, 3, 1-4, 1-2; Gipson, 5 0-0, 5-5. Total fouls: P-15, T-15. Total rebounds: P-22, T-9. Rebound leaders: P-Scott 6, Walkup 7, Buikema 7, Forrest 4; T- Mason 4, Marquez and DiPaolo. 2 each.


Forrest burns Tigers in first varsity start

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

Caitlin Forrest got her first varsity start for Pagosa Saturday afternoon and turned it into a monster performance.

The sophomore power forward scored nine points and hauled down 11 rebounds, teaming with classmate Emily Buikema (12 points) and junior forward Lori Walkup to build up a lead and then hang on down the stretch to defeat La Junta 44-38 in the Rye Girls Classic.

Those three, in fact, put the Pagosans on the board early, each scoring a field goal from inside drives. Walkup added a pair of free throws, as did guard Bri Scott.

Walkup's field goal was signaled a three-pointer at the end of period buzzer by the referee standing right next to her. The other referee, from the opposite side of the floor, changed it to a deuce after the La Junta coach protested the initial call.

La Junta's twin forwards, Kristine and Korry Lewis, combined for five of their team's six points in the period, Korry hitting the first of her two treys in the game and Kristine a traditional deuce. Emily Pearson added a charity toss and Pagosa was up 10-6 after one.

Both teams went on scoring streaks in the second period, the Pirates paced by sophomore point guard Liza Kelley with all six of her points for the game coming in the frame, two driving to the hoop and another on a perfect fall-away jumper from 12 feet.

Not to be outdone by her fellow sophomore, Buikema also canned three field goals in the period, Walkup added another and Jewell cashed her only basket of the game.

The 16-12 Pirate outburst gave them a 26-18 halftime margin and, having committed only eight turnovers in the half, what appeared to be a decisive edge over the Lady Tigers.

But one can never count out a La Junta team, as the Pagosa squad quickly learned.

With both Walkup and Kelley saddled with four fouls after the first three minutes, the Tigers began chipping away at the Pirate lead.

Korry Lewis poured in her second three and Pearson scored a pair on drives down the lane.

Pagosa was getting single baskets from Walkup on a 14-foot jumper, Buikema on a rebound putback and Forrest on a half-hook with defenders hanging on both arms.

With 1:17 left in the period, La Junta had cut the lead to 32-25. Then Kristine Lewis hit a pair of free throws and Kari Romero added one from the stripe.

At the break, the Tigers had cut Pagosa's lead to 32-28.

The fourth quarter was a Forrest fire.

She rebounded the opening shot of the period, faked left and skied right to lay it in and extend the lead to six. Buikema added a pair of free throws to stretch the lead back to eight. Pearson answered with a pair of deuces and a trey and the lead was at two.

Then Romero hit a drive down the lane and the Pirate lead was gone, the score tied.

Just as quickly, Forrest took command. She hauled down a pair of defensive boards and then drove around a defender for her eighth point of the game. On the next Pirate possession she rebounded a pair of missed shots, the last time feeding Scott on the wing where she was fouled on a three try.

She stepped to the line and drilled all three charity tosses. LaJunta, with just over a minute left, was forced to foul.

Jessica Lynch hit one of two from the line, Walkup added one and, fittingly, Forrest hit one of two.

Coach Bob Lynch was ecstatic about Pagosa's control of the boards, despite another 21 turnover performance.

Walkup added eight rebounds to Forrest's 11. Scott, Kelley and Buikema each hauled in three and Jewell a pair.

Kelley also added two steals and three assists despite being in early foul trouble.

Buikema had two blocked shots and Forrest turned in another.

Pagosa hit 12 of 17 from the free throw line and 16 of 29 from the field. La Junta had only 13 of 37 from the floor and just nine of 24 from the line, matching the futility of Florence against Pagosa the day before.

Florence's Pearson was the game's leading scorer with 14 with Kristine Lewis adding 10 and Korry Lewis seven for the Tigers.


Scoring: P-Scott, 5, 0-5, 5-7; Lynch, 1, 0-1, 1-2; Kelley, 6, 3-6, 0-0; Walkup, 9, 3-45, 4-4; Jewell, 2, 1-2,; Buikema, 12, 5-6, 2-2; Forrest, 9, 4-8, 1-2; LJ-Pearson, 14, 5-10, 3-7; Kristine Lewis, 10, 3-6, 3-6; Romero, 4, 1-5, 2-5; Korry Lewis, 7, 2-2, 1-3. Total fouls: P-20, LJ-17. Total rebounds: P-39, LJ-16.


Ladies play giveaway but still beat Florence 42-34 at Rye

By Richard Walter

Staff Writer

"We practiced really well all week long, probably the best we've had all year ... and then we came out and did all the things we practiced not doing."

That was coach Bob Lynch's comment after the Pagosa Springs Lady Pirates overcame their own largesse to down Florence 42-34 Dec. 19 in the Rye Girls' Classic.

It was a game of contrasts and giveaways.

Pagosa controlled the opening tip and on the first shot of the game Bri Scott drained a long three and Pagosa had a lead they'd never give up - try as they might.

In fact, their turnovers kept Florence in the game after the first period in which the Pagosans spurted to an 18-8 lead.

Most of that was based on a full court press that had the Lady Huskies baffled most of the period.

Working smoothly most of the period, the Pirate offense kept going inside. Emily Buikema, the 5-11 sophomore low post, had five in the period and sophomore point guard Liza Kelley added four with a pair of pull-up jumpers in the lane.

Lori Walkup, Caitlin Forrest and Melissa Maberry each chipped in with a field goal and it began to look like a runaway for Pagosa.

But the second quarter was a montage of errors - on both sides - as the Pirates committed nine more unforced turnovers and the Lady Huskies responded with five of their own.

And both teams went cold from the floor while unable to hold onto the ball.

Pagosa got field goals from Buikema and an offensive rebound putback by Maberry while Caitlyn Jewell canned a charity toss.

For Florence, Brittany Wilcox had the lone field goal and Kristyn Kiley added a pair of free throws as the lead stood at 23-12 for Pagosa at the halftime break.

Pagosa cut the giveaway total to seven in the third period and Florence had only four.

The result was a much more competitive offensive performance, Pagosa outscoring the Huskies 11-10.

Walkup and Forrest each had four points in the period, Jewell added her lone field goal of the game and Scott, silent since the opening shot, chipped in a free throw.

Florence staged its best offensive presence of the game with two field goals from Lacie Slattery, one each by Cherie Pryor and Wilcox, and a pair of free throws from Wilcox.

They scrambled desperately trying to make it a closer game in the final stanza, outscoring Pagosa 12-8 as Lynch worked everyone on the bench into the game for the Pirates.

Scott and Kelley each had a driving layup for Pagosa. Scott added one free throw, freshman Laurel Reinhardt cashed one of two from the charity stripe, and Buikema dropped in a pair from the line.

Pagosa stopped Wilcox in the period, but Slattery had four points, both baskets coming on putbacks of offensive rebounds.

Jessica Schmidt, the Huskies point guard who had been considered their best offensive threat coming into the contest, was limited to one field goal, coming in the final period. Melissa Hunsberger also had her first points of the game in the period, Kiley added a field goal and free throw and Pryor a free throw.

Coach Lynch could only shake his head afterward, lamenting the 30 turnovers committed by the Pirates, but happy to have the victory stretching the team's record to 5-1 for the season.

Only one player suited failed to see action for Pagosa and each of those who did play contributed to the stats line in one way or another.

Forrest, coming off the bench, had six rebounds to go with her six points, figures matched by Walkup. Kelley also had six points and turned a pair of offensive rebounds. Scott, with seven points, also was the defensive guru of the game, blanking Schmidt until it didn't matter. At the same time she grabbed three rebounds, had five steals and like Walkup, had three assists.

Pagosa shot only 15 of 50 from the floor compared to 13 of 33 for Florence. The Pirates committed 19 fouls sending Florence to the line 23 times. The fact the Huskies hit only eight of those freebies was the deciding factor in the game.

Pagosa outrebounded Florence 29-17.


Scoring: P-Scott, 7, 1 three, 1-3, 2-4; Kelley, 6, 3-5; Walkup, 6, 3-7; Reinhardt, 1, 0-3, 1-2; Faber, 0, 0-2; Jewell 3, 1-9, 1-2; Buikema, 9, 3-4, 3-4; Forrest, 6, 3-8, 0-2; Maberry, 4, 2-3. F-Adamson, 0-3, 0-1; Hunsberger, 2, 1-2, 0-2; Kiley, 5 1-3, 3-4; Pryor, 6, 2-4, 2-8; Schmidt, 2, 1-4; Slattery, 8, 4-10, 0-1; Vincent, 2, 1-2; Wilcox, 9, 3-5, 3-7. Total turnovers: Pagosa 30, Florence 17. Total fouls: Pagosa 19, Florence 11. Blocked shots, Jewell, 3.


Strong second half lifts Pirates over Pine Creek

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

It was 9 p.m., after all.

Perhaps that's why the Pirates sleepwalked through the first half of Friday night's contest against Pine Creek at the Pueblo Invitational Tournament.

Nevertheless, despite what were undoubtedly the most unsightly two quarters of basketball Pirate Head Coach Jim Shaffer's troops have assembled this season, Pagosa eventually outpaced the scrappy Eagles to gain a 54-30 victory.

After trailing 16-14 at halftime, the Pirates regained their defensive composure early in the third to turn a slight scare into somewhat of a laugher.

But the first 16 minutes were anything but comical, especially for Pirate fans.

Things started in an upbeat manner for the Pirates; junior Caleb Forrest hit a pair from the line in the game's first minute to put Pagosa up 2-0.

Pine Creek answered momentarily with baskets from Jared Van Tassel and Josh Krehbiel and the Eagles led 4-2.

Pirate senior Ty Faber recovered the lead for Pagosa with a trey off an assist from fellow senior Ryan Goodenberger, but Krehbiel's jumper at the five-minute mark put the Eagles back on top 6-5.

Then came some bad basketball as the contest resembled more of a hockey game for the remainder of the half - with lots of contact, plenty of turnovers and just a few shots finding the net.

Due to numerous miscues and lethargic rebounding by the Pirates, the Eagles extended the lead to 9-5 before Pagosa senior Jeremy Caler sank a late trey; Pine Creek led 9-8 at the end of the first period.

Pirate senior Clayton Spencer pumped in Pagosa's first four of the second period to answer a trey from Pine Creek's Ryan Brattlof, and the score was knotted at 12 all with two minutes gone.

Then the Eagles' Larry Scally hit a short jumper to give Pine Creek a 14-12 lead before both teams combined for a circus of errors lasting several scoreless minutes in duration.

Among the Pirate follies during the hapless span were several traveling violations, a trio of mishandled passes and a pair of dunks that hammered unsuccessfully off the back of the iron.

Forrest ended the drought with an inside hoop to tie the game at 14 with just over a minute left in the half, but two late charity tosses from Van Tassel gave his team a two-point lead at the break.

The Pirate recovery began early in the third with a jumper from Goodenberger followed by a trey from Caler and layin from Luke Brinton as Pagosa held a 22-20 lead in the opening minutes.

Then Brinton hit Forrest for an interior deuce before a Pirate foul away from the ball wiped out a trey from Goodenberger, and a bucket from Pine Creek's Andy Sanchez narrowed the lead to 24-22 midway through the quarter.

But with the Pirate defensive surge picking up momentum, the Eagles would get no closer.

Faber and Spencer supplied Pagosa's next four with strong drives after steals, and although Pine Creek's Kris Rainwater managed a desperation three at the buzzer, the Pirates entered the final quarter up 28-25.

A dish from Caler to Forrest and a driving kiss off the glass from Faber made it 32-25 before Eagle turnovers led to a tip from Spencer to push the lead to nine.

Pine Creek called time-out at the four-minute mark in an attempt to halt the charge, but the Pirate onslaught continued.

Forrest added three straight, Faber struck from behind the arc and Spencer added a deuce and two free throws to give the Pirates a 43-25 lead with under three minutes to play.

Pine Creek added a pair from the line, but trailed 51-27 after free throws from Goodenberger and Casey Belarde and a basket by Craig Schutz in the final minute.

Otis Rand converted a deuce off a feed from Coy Ross and added a charity toss for Pagosa's final points, and though Scally's buzzer-beater trey was on target for Pine Creek, the scorer's book closed reading 54-30 in favor of Pagosa.

In a post-game interview, Shaffer reflected on the win, which improved the Pirates' season record to 6-0 heading into Saturday's battle with Skyview.

In summary, "We did a poor job of taking care of the ball in the first half, and it led to a lot of unforced, silly turnovers and kept Pine Creek in the game," said Shaffer.

"With each turnover you have the possibility of a four-point swing," added Shaffer. "Especially when you play as poorly as we did in the first half tonight."

With respect to what he said to his team at the break, "I told them not to panic and to hang in there defensively, and some key things turned around for us when we got into our one-three-one zone in the second half," said Shaffer.

"Because we played a good zone, we got some rebounds, got some things in transition and were able to stretch out a lead," Shaffer added.

"I'm always telling the kids that defense can carry us," Shaffer concluded. "We're going to have nights like tonight where we don't shoot the ball well, but if we play hard on defense, we can stay in the game."

Due to the holiday break, the Pirates don't return to official action until Jan. 9, when they travel south to take on Aztec, N.M.

Game time in the Aztec High School gym is set for 8 p.m.


Pirates claim Pueblo trophy with 56-33 win over Skyview

By Tom Carosello

Staff Writer

Add some more hardware to the trophy case.

After besting the Skyview Wolverines 56-33 Saturday afternoon, Pagosa Head Coach Jim Shaffer and the Pirates returned home as tournament champions for the third time this season.

At 7-0, thus far the Pirates are proving worthy of their preseason No. 1 ranking among Class 3A squads, winning by an average of 26 points per game while holding opponents to a meager 35 points per contest.

Heading into last weekend's Pueblo Invitational Tournament, the Pirates were expecting to be pushed a little due to the slate of highly-touted teams participating.

Taking into account the fact Skyview had beaten No. 3 Denver Christian Friday night, Saturday's matchup seemed to promise a closer outcome.

It didn't happen, and although Skyview fought the good fight, push never came to shove as the Pirates once again employed a stifling defense to tame the Wolverines and capture the tournament crown.

Senior Clayton Spencer took the tip for Pagosa, and Pirate junior Caleb Forrest's opening deuce was soon followed by a drive from senior teammate Ty Faber as the Pirates established a 4-0 lead two minutes into action.

The Wolverines game plan was obvious early: slow the pace, work the ball around the perimeter and try to get a good look from outside.

It worked, initially, as Skyview sharpshooter Luke Langren responded with a three to cut the lead to one before Pagosa senior Ryan Goodenberger countered with a trey to keep the Pirates in front.

The Wolverines took advantage of consecutive Pirate turnovers to go up 7-6 inside the three-minute mark, but Pirate senior Jeremy Caler connected with a trey to give Pagosa the lead back at 9-7.

Senior Luke Brinton scored late with a put-back to extend the gap to four, and the first quarter ended 13-7 in favor of Pagosa after a hustling Spencer turned a teammate's would-be air ball into a layin at the horn.

Langren had the Wolverines within three with a quick trey to open the second stanza before Brinton and Skyview's Brian Barringer exchanged hoops to make it 15-12.

Faber drained a trey from the top of the arc to put Pagosa up 18-12, then answered a Skyview deuce with another three from the same spot moments later to boost the lead to 21-14 as the half neared its end.

Skyview's Jeremy Rubio chipped in a free throw in the final 90 seconds, Forrest converted a layin and three-point play for Pagosa, and Barringer hit a jumper with eight seconds left as the half ended with the Pirates up 26-18.

Langren sank a three early in the third, then three straight foul calls on the Pirates netted two from the stripe for Skyview's Jeff Woog with six minutes remaining in the period.

A Pagosa turnover then led to a Langren deuce, and the Wolverines trailed by just one at the five-minute mark.

But the Pirates would not relinquish their lead, and held a 32-27 advantage with under four minutes to play behind six straight from Spencer.

Tight defense from Pirate guards Faber, Caler and David Kern set the tone in the final minutes, resulting in numerous scoring chances down the stretch.

Forrest sank a soft hook for two plus a free throw, Caler hit a reverse layin followed by a trey from Goodenberger and the Pirates led 40-29 after three.

Faber's steal to start the final period resulted in a jam for Forrest, then a Caler theft netted two for Spencer and Pagosa led 44-29 with 6:51 to play.

After receiving no mercy from the referees as inside play became increasingly physical, the Pirates stepped behind the arc to put the game out of reach.

Goodenberger and Faber sandwiched a pair of deep treys around two free throws from Forrest and the Wolverine deficit grew to 21 at 52-31 with 3:15 to play.

Pagosa senior Casey Belarde added the final four, two coming via a jumper at the buzzer for good measure, and the Pirates claimed their third tournament title in as many weeks.

In addition, Pagosa dominated the post-game award ceremonies for the second week in a row; Spencer earned the tournament most valuable player award for his performance over the weekend, while Forrest garnered all-tournament honors as well.

Commenting on his team's effort, "Any time you can hold a quality opponent to just 33 points, it's a very good sign," said Shaffer after the game.

"Offensively, we're close to being really good," Shaffer added. "I think we're improving with each game, and I thought we did a good job taking care of the ball tonight and finding the open man.

"Another good sign is the way we adjusted to the slower pace tonight; we like to get out and run, and it's hard to maintain focus against a team that wants to pass the ball 15 to 20 times per possession, but we got it done," he concluded.

After a couple of weeks off from official competition, the Pirates will resume play Jan. 9 with an away game against Aztec, N.M.

Game time in the Aztec High School gym is set for 8 p.m.


Pirates improve standing at Warrior, stretch drive starts Jan. 8

By Karl Isberg

Staff Writer

It was a lot better than last year.

Last season, the Pirate wrestling team went to the vaunted Warrior Classic at Grand Junction and returned in next to last place among 32 teams.

This season, the team improved its position in the final standings at the 34-team Warrior, ending the two-day event in 18th place with 74 points, in a field that included many top-rank squads.

The tourney was won by Uintah, Utah. The only Colorado Class 3A teams to finish ahead of the Pirates were Hotchkiss and traditional rival Monte Vista.

"This was a considerable improvement for us," said Coach Dan Janowsky. "It was a good tournament for the team; it just didn't end quite the way we wanted. The pack was so tight in the middle that, if you win a couple more matches, even if you score five points, you jump up in the standings."

Highest placer for Pagosa was senior Kory Hart, who fought his way to the finals at 152 pounds and to second place at the weight.

"Kory really wrestled a terrific tournament," said the coach. "In the final, he was controlling the action and just made one little mistake - got extended on a sit-out. But, he did a great job for us."

Hart began the Warrior by pinning a wrestler from Hotchkiss at 1 minute, 5 seconds of the match.

In his second bout, Hart nailed a fall over an opponent from Meeker at 1:34.

The next two matches for the Pirate were a test - and a test he passed with flying colors. To this point in the season, Hart had not wrestled a complete match, overwhelming his opponents prior to the final whistle in every contest.

In the quarterfinals at Grand Junction, Hart fought an opponent from Uintah. He won the match with a 6-0 decision.

"Kory's match in the semifinal was an exciting one," said Janowsky. "He fought the kid from Fruita Monument. Kory was down 2-1 with four seconds left; he shot a low ankle and got the takedown to win."

Hart's only loss of the tournament came in the final against a wrestler from Grand Junction High School.

Michael Martinez also lost only once at the Warrior and captured third place at 119.

The senior Pirate drew a first-round bye then whipped an Alamosa wrestler in an 18-5 major decision.

Martinez took the mat next against an opponent from Grand Junction Central - the fifth-place finisher in 5A at last year's state championships. Martinez earned a 14-11 decision.

The Pirates' only loss at the Warrior came against the wrestler from Delta, last year's 4A runner-up.

Moving to the consolation bracket, Martinez advanced to the match for third place with a 16-8 decision over the man from Pueblo South.

Martinez nailed third place with an 8-5 decision over the athlete from Moffat County.

"Michael wrestled well," said the coach. "He controlled everything but the first minute of his semifinal match."

Daren Hockett was the other Pirate medalist at the Grand Junction event, capturing sixth place at 125.

Hockett began the tournament with a bye then defeated a Fruita wrestler 11-2. He advanced to the semifinal round with a 10-1 decision over an athlete from Moffat County.

With a loss to the reigning 3A state champion in the semifinal, Hockett's win streak was over. Losses to Rifle and West Jordan, Utah, put the Pirate in sixth.

Several other Pagosa wrestlers won matches and earned team points at the Warrior.

Raul Palmer got a win at 135. Palmer pinned his opponent from Durango at 4:38.

James Gallegos (140), like Palmer, beat a Durango wrestler, pinning him at 2:30.

Senior Aaron Hamilton moved down to 145 for the Warrior and went 3-2, one win away from a medal.

Following a loss in the first match against the No. 1 seed from Hotchkiss, Hamilton won three consecutive times. The Pirate beat a rival from Monte Vista 9-4 and an opponent from Olathe 9-8.

Hamilton's final victory of the tourney came in a 7-5 overtime win over a wrestler from Rocky Mountain.

"Aaron had a good tournament," said Janowsky. "He got a lot of mat time against quality kids."

Marcus Rivas went 2-2 at 189. The junior pinned the wrestler from Battle Mountain a mere 20 seconds into the match and pinned an opponent from Pueblo South at 2:55.

James Martinez scored one win at 215. The sophomore pinned a Grand Junction wrestler at 4:07.

"I was pleased," said the coach. "All our kids proved they can wrestle at this level. Even our guys who lost were very competitive. I love the Warrior; no one lays down for anyone. What I saw is we are just a tiny bit behind the experienced guys; you can't make a little mistake versus a good guy. That's what happened to us a couple times. That's how you learn. We're not on Cloud Nine, but maybe we got a glimpse of it."

The Pirates will attempt to soar to a higher-number cloud when they return to action Jan. 8, hosting a triangular meet with Durango and Monte Vista. The Monte Vista meet will be an Intermountain League dual.

The action remains intense as Pagosa hosts another dual Jan. 10 against Taos. Janowsky said there is a chance a third team could be added to that event.

Duals on Jan. 8 and 9 start at 6 p.m.

Then, on Jan. 10, the Pirates host the annual Rocky Mountain Tournament.

This year, at least 14 teams will battle at the Rocky.

Fans can expect to see teams from Taos, Alamosa, Aztec, Espanola Valley, Bloomfield, Ignacio, Centauri, Monte Vista, Bayfield, Del Norte, Center and Durango.

First-round matches at the Rocky start at 10 a.m. Finals could begin as early as 6 p.m.

"Returning from the break marks the time when everyone starts the stretch drive," said Janowsky. "Everyone is kind of rusty, coming off Christmas but that first weekend is when everything really starts to get interesting. The pressure starts to mount, and it starts for us with the IML dual Jan. 8 against Monte Vista (the league championship is decided on the basis of dual meets with all IML teams). The more suspense there is, the higher the stakes, the more fun it is.


 GOP Third Party

Dear Editor:

Here's Cal Thomas, former vice president of the Moral Majority and a longtime conservative columnist, writing in the Denver Post (11/30): "Would some lawyer please sue the Republican National Committee for violating truth-in-labeling laws?" Thomas asks. "Smaller government and less spending? That's a joke.

"The time when the Republican party stood for something worth standing for is over," Thomas declares, noting the Republican-dominated Congress has "dished out $95 billion in tax breaks and pork barrel projects."

Here's George T. Will, conservative columnist for Newsweek (12/8) asserting, "By the time conservatives running Congress and this conservative president are done doing what they think will win the next election, tweezers may be needed to pick up the remnants of conservatism as traditionally understood."

Will cites administration actions on tax cuts, tariffs, subsidies, corporate welfare, government management of industries, extreme judicial activism, and the attempt to rewrite the rules of the Senate for partisan advantage, among other indices of the Republican recipe for "elect and elect."

Judging by its actions (and not its rhetoric) it seems obvious that the Republican Party we've known has become a Trojan Horse for the deliverance of a new political party characterized by radically different, quite un-Republican values and objectives - a Third Party masked as an advocate of historic Republican principles and programs.

The Democratic Committee proceeds unawares as the firing squad of candidates for the Democratic presidential race assembles in a circle for their next television appearance.

Michael J. Greene

Misled readers

Dear Editor:

I'd like to clarify statements I made at a meeting of the town board last week. It seems some folks were misled about my feelings after some of my statements were paraphrased in the paper.

What I stated at the meeting and what I meant was this:

The existing controversy over the sign ordinance is not a problem, but rather an opportunity for the town of Pagosa Springs. Everyone seems to agree that we have an abundance of less than desirable signs. So, in an effort to treat everyone fairly, let's tear them all down and start over. But, before we tear them down, lets notify the state and national medias of our intentions. We simply state to them that we are really tired of the visual blight caused by signs in our town and that in order to honor our beautiful nature environment, we will conduct a ceremonial burning of the signs - A Community Celebration.

I went on to say that my sign would be at the bottom of the pile and that I would gladly light the first match. Man, what fun that would be! Just think of the headlines: "Southwest Co. mountain town wins back its freedom, fires its signage." The publicity from all of this would bring many visitors, and who knows, maybe some clean industry with a few jobs to boot.

Out of all of this the new sign code (that I call "One Code-One Sign-One Love) would emerge. It would require all signs to be small (say 3x4), made of redwood and painted uniformly. It would allow for no off-premise signs and would make exceptions only for emergency services.

Think of a town where banks, gas stations, groceries, coffee shops, hot springs - everyone, had the same size, color and design of sign. Not because they were forced to, but because we all got behind it collectively. I believe that would be very beautiful and very powerful, and could act as the impetus for many other positive changes in our town.

I know, to many of you, this all seems quite radical. But it's really not. It's simply taking control of our own destiny so that our kids still have a really cool town to call home someday.

I believe this to be a true opportunity for change. Having a vision is one thing. Next we must act. Otherwise, we will always be reactive, and at some point the vision is lost and it becomes too late.

Cappy White


Community News

Senior News

Perks prove to be a holiday plus

By Doug Trowbridge

Sally is making her annual trek to the Pacific Northwest to spend some time with her kids at Christmas while Morna and I are here, holding down the fort.

As Sally sailed out the door, she said something like, "I know you're capable," but it might have been, "I'll hold you culpable."

Either way, I figure I'm in trouble when she gets back, so I'll just make the most of the peace and quiet which descends on the Chamber at this time of year and see if I can't find the desk that lurks beneath the pile of paper in my office.

Pagosa Perks

By now, you have all heard about the Chamber's Pagosa Perks Program.

I assume you have because we have sold out of our first batch and had to place an emergency order for more. Yes, it seems that Pagosa Perks are a hit!

The good news is our supply has been replenished and there are plenty of Perks to go around.

Merchants should be receiving them in droves as holiday shoppers make their last-minute purchases.

Another wave should hit Dec. 26, when everyone who received Pagosa Perks in their stockings on Christmas morning head out to spend their new-found wealth.

If you're still hunting for that perfect gift and the stress is getting to you, consider stopping by the Chamber and picking up some Pagosa Perks for those hard-to-satisfy people on your shopping list.

For more information on the Pagosa Perks program, call the Chamber at 264-2360.

Photography contest

The time is fast approaching for the 16th annual Pagosa Springs Arts Council Photography Contest, at Moonlight Books.

The show is open to amateur and professional photographers and attracts an amazing amount of talent each year.

Entries will be accepted at Moonlight Books through Feb. 5 at 5 p.m. The cost is a mere $4 per entry and rules can be picked up at Moonlight Books, Pagosa Photography and Mountain Snapshots.

Start looking for that perfect shot and get ready to show it off during the show in February.

Advertising feedback

As any merchant will tell you, it can be hard to figure out where your advertising dollars are best spent.

The Chamber runs so many ads and we do our best to track where our callers heard about Pagosa Springs so we can know what is working.

One of the most positive ad campaigns we run each year is our TV ads that run in New Mexico trumpeting the abundance of snow at Wolf Creek Ski Area.

You can always tell when the ad runs because all four of our phone lines will suddenly light up at once.

Each caller receives our accommodations brochure so they can call and make arrangements to visit Pagosa and ski.

These ads never fail to generate a large response and we hope that everyone in Pagosa is enjoying the benefits.

More parade thanks

It was brought to our attention that Pagosa Springs Police Chief Don Volger enlists the aid of the Colorado Mounted Rangers Troop F to assist with traffic control during the Parade of Lights.

It is never our intention to overlook any of our many helpers and we regret not mentioning them in last week's article. And so, the Chamber offers our thanks to the Colorado Mounted Rangers Troop F for their help at the parade and everything they do for us throughout the year.


We have one new member and eight renewals to crow about this week.

We are thrilled to welcome Dave Brush to the Chamber with Specialty Tours, Inc. Specialty Tours, Inc. offers more than 70 different tour itineraries annually. All are value oriented for discerning travellers and they will assist and coordinate transportation to and from Pagosa Springs, achieving savings with small groups. They are located in Aurora, but you can give them a call at (800)342-4299 or check out their Web site at You can also drop him an e-mail at Our thanks to Gene Schick for recruiting Dave. As always, Gene earns a free SunDowner for his efforts.

Renewals this week include Dianne Burnside with the Chama Valley Chamber of Commerce; Mark Mueller with the American Avalanche Association; Harold Walter with Walter Body Shop, Inc.; Kitzel Farrah with San Juan Veterinary Hospital; Judy Smith with 160 Adult RV Park; Larry Fisher with Ski and Bow Rack; Carl Nevitt with Big Sky Studio; Susan Potter with the Builders Association of Pagosa Springs; and associate members Bruce and Nettie Trenk.

We are pleased to maintain such a large and supportive membership through tough times. From all of us at your Chamber, may you have a wonderful holiday season and a very prosperous 2004.


Library News

A literary contest for holiday fun

We haven't had a literary contest for some time so here goes. Authors often borrow from others for the title of their books. Here are 10 titles and authors. From what literary work did the author take his title? Give us your list with name, address and phone. A literary prize awaits the winner. Entries must be in by Jan. 9.

1. "The Sun Also Rises," by Ernest Hemingway. 2. "From Here to Eternity," by James Jones. 3. "All the King's Men," by Robert Penn Warren. 4. "The Sound and the Fury," by William Faulkner. 5. "The Winter of Our Discontent," by John Steinbeck. 6. "Grapes of Wrath," by John Steinbeck. 7. "Butterfield Eight," by John O'Hara. 8. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," by Ken Kesey. 9. "For Whom the Bell Tolls," by Ernest Hemingway. 10. "Advise And Consent," by Allen Drury.

History collection bid

Had another call on the collection - time is running out. Get your bid in ASAP. We are up to $275.

Cowboy poetry gathering

Starting Jan. 8, the Arvada Center is celebrating a milestone of 15 years of world class rhymes and rhythms. There will be over 44 acts of music, wisdom, and laughter during four days of the best western talent collected for this show. The cost is $12 per day. Arvada is a suburb of Denver. For more information call 720-898-7200. Ask to see the brochure here at the library.

Building fund donations

An anonymous donor gave $250; Sponsor gift from Joe and Janet Donavan; Associate gift from Herman and Joan Hageman in honor of the Music Boosters; Donor gift from Donald and Emma English. Materials gratefully received from Roger Bush, Virginia Bartlett, Dave and Kae Rosgen and Rex Shurtleff.

New material

Carole Howard is always providing us with new and interesting material. Her latest gift is a subscription to Readers Digest, in Spanish. This addition to our language section is appreciated. And, as the magazine says, "Feliz Navidad."

Veteran's Corner

USO packages can put smiles on soldier's faces


Merry Christmas to all Archuleta County veterans.

I hope all of our veterans enjoy and celebrate these holidays with family and friends.

Please take a moment to reflect and give thanks to all of our men and women currently serving in the military, ensuring our ability to travel and gather for the holidays in peace and security. Our military persons are protecting our homeland security by serving in faraway lands, and cannot be home for the holidays.

Many are in harm's way; let's all reflect in our personal ways to hope they soon return home safely. They too will join our ranks as veterans upon the completion of their military duties.

I know there are a number of Archuleta County persons currently serving in the military, though I do not have specific names and numbers. There are also several persons from this area in the military reserves, and subject to call to active duty.

Care packages

There is a United Service Organization (USO) program to send a "care package" to U.S. troops deployed in war zones. It is called "Operation USO Care Package."

Individuals may donate $25 that goes toward sponsorship of a care package. Personal greetings may be forwarded to the USO, Operation USO Care Package, P.O. Box 10835, Arlington, VA 22210.

The USO will transcribe the message onto an official Operation USO Care Package postcard. If you have e-mail you can preview the card at

$25 donation

Corporations may make a tax-deductible financial donation to support Operation USO Care Package with a $25 donation toward sponsorship of one care package. Each care package will recognize corporate sponsor.

The packages contain an assortment of items that our military has specifically requested, such as prepaid international calling cards, disposable cameras, toiletries and sunscreen. They also include greetings from the American public, transcribed by hand onto official Operation USO Care Package post cards.

Personal packages

Due to the threat of anthrax following Sept. 11, 2001, the Department of Defense suspended its practice of forwarding correspondence and personal care packages by the American public to "Any Service Member." In its place, the USO created its care package program.

This seems like an ideal way at an ideal time for the American public to show its support of our troops in this time of conflict.

What better way to say "happy holidays" to American GIs and put smiles on their faces and let them know they are not forgotten. Maybe a smile on your face too?

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 264-8375, the fax number is 264-8376, and e-mail is afautheree@ The office is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, Friday by appointment. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for registration with the county, application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.



Group combines work, fun to enjoy winter wonderland

By Tess Noel Baker

Staff Writer

"You can get so far in sometimes, I swear to God, you feel like you're on top of the world looking out over hundreds of miles."

That, Jim Peironnet said, is the joy of snowmobile riding. That, and the company.

Peironnet, who started snowmobiling five or six years ago, is one of about 55 enthusiasts who are members of the Wolf Creek Trailblazers Snowmobiling Club, a nonprofit group in Pagosa Springs working to organize rides and groom about 100 miles of local trails throughout the winter.

Emily Rogers, another club member, said although the club has been around in one form or another since the early '70s, it's remained rather low-key.

"Our main goal is to get trails groomed, and then we also help with charitable donations in town and other community-type stuff," Rogers said.

According to the state snowmobiling Web site,, the Trailblazers are responsible for the following trails:

- 6 miles on Wolf Creek Pass/Fall Creek Road

- 23 miles on Plumtaw/Fourmile Road

- 12 miles on Turkey Springs Road

- 8 miles on Monument Park Road

- 8 miles First Notch Road/Beaver Meadows

- 7 miles on Nipple Mountain/Porcupine Road

- 6 miles on First Fork Road/Piedra River and

- 23 miles on Mosca Road.

Rogers said snowfall determines when grooming will begin and trails will be opened.

An update on local trail conditions posted on the Web site Dec. 18 reported many of the lower trails remain inaccessible.

"It is Thursday, Dec. 18 in Pagosa Country and we have had about 4-12 inches (depending on the altitude) Monday of this week," the update said. "All the higher trails have good snow. Wolf Creek Pass north and south trails have 4 feet with about 6 miles of groomed trails and plenty of powder. Fall Creek Road has same snow condition, but not groomed. Mosca Road also has adequate snow and has not been groomed. The lower trails including Plumtaw/Fourmile Road, Turkey Springs/West Monument Trails, First Notch, First Fork and Nipple Mountain/Porcupine do not have adequate snow even with a few more inches earlier this week. Snow is in the forecast for next Sunday and Monday, so hopefully the lower trails will improve."

The Trailblazers own two groomers, one large, one small. Members volunteer their time on the groomers to make trails throughout the county accessible, and, in return, are eligible to receive state funds to help with their efforts.

"We groom for multiuse, not just for snowmobilers," Rogers said. Grooming the trails, done after each major snowfall smooths out the surface, cutting up the rough spots and packing in the fresh snow.

Rogers said before being groomed, each trail must be approved by the forest service. Total number of miles of trails is limited. For instance, this is the first year they have been able to groom on Wolf Creek Road. They traded miles at lower elevations for the chance to groom up high where earlier snowfall means a longer season on the powder.

When not out smoothing the way, the club members take time to squeeze in a few rides of their own.

Rogers said day rides are planned this winter on Plumtaw, Mosca, Cumbres Pass north of Chama and South Fork - depending on the snow of course. Overnight rides are scheduled to Lake City, Grand Mesa and Crested Butte. The Crested Butte ride will also include a meeting with the state organization. For rides, club members are required to bring all their own equipment, including their own snowmobile.

"It's not a tour," Rogers said.

It is, however, lots of fun.

"It's an opportunity to get out in the outdoors in the winter," Rogers said. "An opportunity to experience snow in all the different conditions and to get into areas you wouldn't see from a vehicle in the winter."

Rogers said for the best of the best in area trails, Lake City tops her list.

"They have so many miles of groomed trails," she said. "If conditions are right you can go all the way across to Creede."

Peironnet said his favorite spot to ride is Windy Pass outside of Chama. "You have literally dozens of miles of open space with few hindrances," he said. "There are huge, huge meadows you can just have a ball in. Really, the only constraint is fuel."

Maps of trails groomed by the club can be found at the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center downtown and at Pagosa Power Sports on North Pagosa Boulevard. For updates on trail conditions, reports are available on the Web at

The Wolf Creek Trailblazers Snowmobile Club meets at 6 p.m. the second Thursday of each month from September through April at the Methodist Church on Lewis Street. Annual dues are $50 for a business, $35 for a family and $25 for a single person. Members receive a subscription to the club newsletter and automatically become members of the statewide Colorado Snowmobile Association. Business members are listed in the Snow Scoop, a statewide publication.

Club officers include a president, vice president, reporter, secretary, treasurer and a club representative who attends statewide meetings.


Pagosa's Past

Chief Ignacio named new

children after the McCluers

John M. Motter

PREVIEW Columnist

We've been writing a series of articles about Tim McCluer, David Murray, and C.E. Hampton, among the first cattlemen in the San Juan Basin.

McCluer settled on the Florida River early in 1875, Hampton in the fall of the same year.

For several months, McCluer's wife Nellie was the only white woman for miles around. She had nerves of steel. It was not at all uncommon for a band of Utes to arrive unannounced at meal time. The visitors squatted around the table while the family was being served. Nellie dared not serve them.

Salt and sugar were favorite snacks for the visitors. These commodities were apparently not included in their rations. A teaspoon of salt would make them happy for an afternoon. These frequent visits caused Nellie to wonder if she had laid in enough supplies. The store of groceries diminished rapidly.

The McCluers had plenty of meat. Whenever the Utes manifested signs of unrest, the McCluers butchered a beef and gave the entire carcass to the Indians. "They ate until they were too full to fight," Murray explained, "so harmony prevailed for some time." They also supplied meat to the agent at Ignacio who parceled out government supplies.

As time passed, Tim became recognized by both Indian and white as a good man to call when disputes developed. He is credited with saving the lives of numbers of white people.

Chief Ignacio of the Weeminuche band of Utes was especially friendly. As a symbol of mourning for the loss of his first child, a girl, he wore his hair bobbed for the rest of his life. As other children entered his family circle, he named them after McCluer sons and daughters.

The third McCluer child, Tim Jr., was said to be the first white child born in La Plata County. Because only bed ticking was available, all of the newly arrived heir's clothing was made from this material.

Nellie was terrified when a group of Utes showed up at her door and asked for her 1-year-old son. She was too terrified to refuse. Hours later, when she peeked into their tipi, she saw her son arrayed like a victorious chieftain and surrounded by laughing Indians. His naked body was striped with bright vermilion, his face painted bronze and black, and his head covered with feathers. Soon the baby was returned, unharmed but without clothing.

New settlers moved into the area despite fear of Indian outbreaks. The reign of cattle kings commenced.

Everything needed for financial success was present: water, grass and abundant sunshine. Government land was available free for grazing.

Cow camp equipment was primitive and inexpensive. Bread was baked by winding dough around a stick and holding the combination over a bed of hot coal. Meat, roasted on a stick held over the same hot coals, was carved with the Bowie knife, ever present at the cowboy's waist. A tin cup, always hanging from the saddle, was used for coffee boiled in a tin can. Cooking utensils such as Dutch ovens, frying pans, stew kettles and coffee pots were not considered necessary until much later. Table knives and forks were considered superfluous.

Ordinary cow punchers earned from $25 to $30 a month. Top hands received a fabulous $35.

"These lean, wiry, deeply tanned men with their legs encase in hairy chaps, their feet covered with high-heeled boots, and their heads protected by enormous hats," Knapp wrote, "were the best rough riders in the world. Judging by their town apparel the social position of the individual was gauged by the height of his boot heels and the width and altitude of his sombrero.

"Their life was full of hardships and privations borne with patience and uncomplaining endurance," he continued. "Whether soaked by rain, stiffened by cold and snow or nearly roasted by heat, they passed it off as jest. Cowboy hilarity that characterized their behavior on a vacation was the safety valve for pent up emotions accumulated during work-a-day lives."

Tim McCluer shared the general prosperity and eventually bought an entire brand from one of the largest outfits for $75,000. The purchase lifted him into position as one of the cattle barons until a bad year came. The stock wintered well, but a spring snow of unprecedented proportions killed nearly every animal in his herd.

He had to start over.

More next week on early cattlemen and the beginning of the San Juan Basin cattle business.



Compromise anyone?

Here's the background: In recent years, fines for getting caught driving in Colorado without liability insurance have, in many cases, been cheaper for the offender than buying the insurance. There have been far too many motorists on the road without this critically important coverage. Here's the theory: If we increase the penalties for driving in Colorado without insurance while, at the same time, it is progressively cheaper to purchase said insurance, fewer people will be inclined to drive without it.

This would result in fewer problems on the road with less of a burden on the insurance-paying public when uninsured motorists have accidents. And a greater chance for uninsured motorists to procure the coverage that, as much as anything else, allows them to protect their assets in case of accident.

In line with the theory, Gov. Bill Owens last week urged adoption of some reasonable and long overdue legislation addressing the problem of uninsured drivers on Colorado roads and the penalties they should face for driving without insurance.

Owens called for stiffer penalties to deal with the approximately 16 percent of the total of Colorado drivers who are on the road without insurance. The Colorado State Patrol provides the 16-percent figure, other sources rate it much higher. The suggestion was also made in light of an apparent decline in the cost of liability insurance that occurred when the state dropped the no-fault insurance scheme and returned to a tort system last summer.

Owens recommended increasing the current mandatory $100 fine on first offense to $500 with the driver's license suspended until proof of insurance is provided.

He urged hiking the current $200 fine to $1,000 for any second offense that occurs within two years of the first violation. If convicted of a second offense, under Owens' plan, the driver would lose driving privilege for four months and, after that, with license returned with proof of insurance, the insurance would have to be kept current for three years.

A $1,000 fine and an eight-month suspension would follow a third offense committed within a five year period.

Owens has recruited soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mark Hillman and Rep. Rob Fairbank to sponsor his suggested legislation. The proposed measure will allow those uninsured drivers who do not have the money needed to purchase insurance to pay installments on fines to free up funds for their insurance, and to have total fine amounts reduced when proof is presented that liability insurance has been maintained for a three-year period.

The proposed bill will deal with the state's motorist insurance database. Presently, only insurers with a minimum 10,000 policies are required to report to the Colorado Department of Revenue on who is and isn't insured. The proposal would also lengthen suspensions on vehicle registrations for failing to provide proof of insurance.

Currently a forged proof of insurance card brings with it a $500 fine. If the new bill passes as conceived, the fine will double and, should a second offense occur, it is possible an offender's vehicle would be confiscated.

Our only question: If the theory is correct - that a tougher response and stiffer fines will inhibit the frequency of the offense - why the relatively slight increases? If stipulations in a measure allow those without sufficient funds to pay on an installment basis, and the argument that poorer people are more inclined to drive without insurance is weakened, why not raise the fines higher yet? This is one place to start dealing with a form of carelessness that hurts us all.

Drivers without insurance are a plague on our streets and highways, as are drivers without licenses and those who drive while their licenses are suspended.

Currently, we all pay. It is time to make offenders pay more.

Karl Isberg

 Pacing Pagosa

St. Nicholas or Santa Claus?

By Richard Walter

A great many people are responsible for Christmas traditions, many deservedly, and many by mistake.

One such person was St. Nicholas of Myra.

He was born during the third century in Patara, a village in what is now Turkey. Born into wealth, he was raised as a devout Christian but his parents died in an epidemic while he still was very young.

And, perhaps, that is where the Christmas story of Santa Claus begins.

Nicholas, harking to the admonition of Jesus of Nazareth, is said to have used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. The St. Nicholas Internet site says he was known throughout the then-known world for his generosity to those in need, his love for children and his concern for sailors and ships.

The Roman Emperor Diocletian, now known as a ruthless persecutor of Christians, had Nicholas exiled and imprisoned for his faith. It is said the prisons were so full of bishops, priests and deacons that there was no room for real criminals - murderers, robbers and thieves.

Nicholas, after his release from prison on the accession of Constantine, attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, died Dec. 6, 343 AD in Myra, and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. The liquid substance was said to have healing powers which fostered a growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration - St. Nicholas Day.

Though he is one of the most popular saints in the Greek as well as the Latin church, there is very little historically certain about him. Some even question his presence at Nicaea. It is known his body was stolen from Myra in 1087 and brought to Bari in Italy.

And there is no proof, it is said, of the numerous miracles attributed to him in historic literature. But there also is no question of how well he is and was revered. As early as the sixth century, for example, Emperor Justinian I built a church in his honor at Constantinople. In Italy, according to The New Advent, his cult seems to have begun with transport of his remains to Bari; in Germany it began under Otto II; he's saluted in Greece because his wife Theophano was Grecian. Bishop Reginald of Eichstaedt is know to have written a metric paean to Nicholas "Vita S. Nicholai."

In Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, they have a custom of making St. Nicholas the secret purveyor of gifts to children on Dec. 6, the day on which the church celebrates his feast.

Because of that attribution, he has become identified with Santa Claus around the world.

Stories passed down through time credit Nicholas with saving his people from famine, sparing the lives of those innocently accused, performing kind and generous deeds in secret, expecting nothing in return.

St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus if you wish, is a symbol of the real meaning of Christmas, the greatest gift of all in the eyes of Christendom - the birth of a Savior for all believers.



90 years ago

Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era files of Dec. 26, 1913

The work of building a telephone line from Rosa up into the Arboles-Allison-Tiffany section is well underway. Our old friend, Barrister Chockley, did the surveying for the work.

The booze fighting that is being done in Pagosa Springs means that either much bootlegging is going on or that many of our citizens are importing tanglefoot. It is a deplorable condition and unless the booze-fighting can be checked some expensive tragedies may be expected as a result of unbridled indulgence.

Fred Catchpole is still a member of the Elwood Pass highway commission, his resignation not having been accepted by the higher-ups.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Dec. 28, 1928

Notwithstanding the prevalent illness, a fair crowd attended the Christmas entertainment at the M.E. Church Monday, Christmas Eve, and greatly enjoyed the program rendered. Santa Claus provided a treat for all the children present - and some of the larger boys too!

Christmas exercises and treats for the children were held at the Baptist Church Sunday morning.

Mrs. Joseph Hersch and son departed Monday to spend Christmas week at Del Norte with relatives, the Judge Wiley family.

The Band-Its will give another of their enjoyable dances at the Odd Fellows Hall next Monday, New Year's Eve. Everybody invited.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Dec. 25, 1953

The weather continues threatening snow, but so far none has fallen. Unless some falls tonight there is little likelihood that there will be much on the ground in town for Christmas. There is some in most sections of the county, but not a great deal. The marker on top of Wolf Creek Pass shows only about 18 inches of snow. The weather has been frigid with near zero or below zero temperatures each night.

The Christmas party sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and held last Saturday afternoon was a success from the attendance standpoint with approximately 500 children present to receive a sack of candy from Santa Claus. This year saw one of the largest crowds of children ever to attend.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of Dec. 28, 1978

The area has just about finished digging out from the storm that hit here the first of last week. All roads and streets are open, most residents now have their driveways dug out, and the main highways are in good shape. Wolf Creek Pass is open and in good shape, Wolf Creek Ski Area is operating on a steady basis, and the holiday skiers are here. The storm was a big one and it did create problems but most of these have been solved.

Snowfall on Wolf Creek Pass is starting to pile up this year. The storm last week left abut 68 inches of new snow, bringing the season total to date to 310 inches. At this date last year the total was about 197 inches.