Major avalanche events close pass; local roads iced; skiers set a record
By Tom Carosello
"Let it snow, let it snow ... let it stop."
It's what many southwest Colorado residents were singing by Saturday afternoon as one of the strongest storms in recent memory continued to pile inches onto snow depths approaching several feet across the San Juan Mountains.
Locally, what began as a light bout of flurries Thursday evening rapidly progressed into a full-scale snowstorm by Friday morning that had a majority of Pagosa Country residents battling up to two feet of snow by late Friday night.
When the last of the lingering storm's snowflakes settled to the earth early Sunday morning, nearly three feet of white blanketed the early-winter landscape.
Such quantities posed problems not only for residents trying to cope, but for town and county road maintenance crews as well.
"We had a lot of cars that weren't being moved from the roadway as the law requires," said Mark Garcia, town administrator, "and it hindered our efforts.
"We realize it's difficult in such conditions, but we're going to start notifying people - owners who fail to move their vehicles run the risk of fines," he concluded.
While shovels, snowblowers, backhoes and tractors and trucks equipped with snowplows were the removal weaponry of choice in suburban areas, conditions on U.S. 160 east of town called for something of a higher caliber.
"We use Howitzers on loan from the U.S. Army," said Mark Mueller, summarizing the avalanche control methods undertaken by Colorado Department of Transportation work crews after the latest in a series of over 40 snowslides began affecting travel near Wolf Creek Pass early Saturday morning.
"We also use small, compressed-gas cannons on the lower slopes near the overlook where shrapnel from a Howitzer poses a safety risk," added Mueller.
As a result of the slides, "We closed the pass at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and reopened it at around 10 p.m. Sunday," said Mueller, an avalanche forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
"Then we had a closure for a couple of hours Monday morning in order to finish up some control efforts," added Mueller.
According to Mueller, crews artificially induced several slides and tended to dozens of others over the weekend, focusing nearly all of their attention on the portion of highway west of the snowshed, where nearly all of the slides occurred.
"It was a major avalanche event for us - the biggest in 10 years," said Mueller. "The storm had the perfect blend of snow quality and wind speed necessary to enhance avalanche conditions."
In addition to triggering activity in nearly every traditional avalanche area, said Mueller, the storm activated several new avalanche runs, including one near Treasure Falls.
"That one wasn't in the books, but it will be now," said Mueller, indicating the slides resulted in the closure of a total of roughly 3,700 lineal feet of roadway before conditions stabilized early Sunday.
"The total length of the highway covered represents the fourth largest total in our records that go back to 1950," he added.
"We realize the inconvenience associated with a road closure," concluded Mueller. "But the decisions are not made lightly; safety issues are always first and foremost."
Echoing those sentiments, "Wolf Creek Pass received 33 inches of heavy, wet snowfall in a relatively brief time period," said Nancy Shanks, a public relations manager with the CDOT office in Durango.
"The danger was real ... this was the first time we had to close the pass due to avalanche danger since 1997," she added.
"Crews noted that this was indeed an exceptional slide schedule, with some slide paths that have been infrequent in the past running as well," Shanks concluded.
At Wolf Creek Ski Area, where the abundance of snowfall was welcomed without reservation, similar control efforts were employed to combat the avalanche risk.
"We use what is called a Gaz-Ex exploder system throughout the duration of a storm," explained Roseanne Haidorfer-Pitcher, Wolf Creek sales and marketing manager.
Comprised of a piping system that carries a mixture of small amounts of propane and oxygen to a series of detonation cannisters, "Gaz-Ex is basically using radio telemetry to trigger an explosion at sites where a high avalanche danger has been pinpointed," said Haidorfer-Pitcher.
"It's actually an implosion - the detonation first sucks up a large volume of air then forces it out rapidly, lifting the snow layer and triggering a slide," she added.
The method keeps significant avalanche danger on the slopes of the ski area to a minimum during periods of heavy snowfall, said Haidorfer-Pitcher, meaning conditions at Wolf Creek are currently ripe for exploration.
"The Wolf Creek Pass closure affected our weekend numbers, but we did break a record Dec. 29," she said, indicating 5,585 people took to the slopes last Monday, surpassing the previous high of 5,125 recorded in March of 2001.
Despite the temporary access restriction, "Overall, we had a great holiday season, and our skier-day totals are up by about 9 percent over last year," she concluded.
Those numbers could continue to improve in the coming weeks; the ski area received 44 inches of fresh powder during the past week, and summit depth exceeds 100 inches.
Lastly, the storm's biggest impact may not be realized until spring, when telltale summer water supply and reservoir data begins to be compiled by a number of state and local authorities.
As of Monday, the snow-water equivalent in the Upper San Juan River Basin stood at an eye-popping 186 percent of average, bolstering the chances for the region to begin a slow escape from a lingering severe drought.
Hot Springs Boulevard asphalt inconsistent
By Tess Noel Baker
The asphalt placed on Hot Springs Boulevard this summer is on probation. Whether it stays or goes will depend on the next year.
This was the sentence determined by the Pagosa Springs Town Council after a review of tests performed by Western Technologies Inc. of Durango at their regular meeting Jan. 6.
Town Administrator Mark Garcia presented the board two options to consider after sampling in November showed inconsistencies in the asphalt.
The first option called for establishing a five-year warranty period during which time the contractor hired for the original project, Strohecker Asphalt, would be responsible for repairing any defects in the asphalt laid in 2003. At the end of that time, the company would be responsible for either chip sealing the entire project or milling and overlaying the road depending on a percentage of the road repairs required.
This option also called for establishing a $60,000 account to pay for a milling operation and overlay on the exterior of the project.
The other option was requiring the contractor to redo the asphalt on the road next summer at his own cost.
Council members Darrel Cotton and Stan Holt suggested deferring any decision on the road for a year.
"The tests say we have some problems, but it doesn't necessarily mean failure," Cotton said. At this point, he added, making the contractor pay for a whole new road may be completely unnecessary.
Council member Bill Whitbred said he didn't want to see the road become something akin to a patchwork quilt with repairs everywhere either. As a result, the board directed Garcia to go back into negotiations with a proposal to place the retainage funds - a percentage of the total cost of the project held back until everything is completed satisfactorily - in an interest bearing escrow account for one year. At that point, the damage will be reevaluated.
According to the reports from Davis Engineering and Western Technologies Inc., some of the asphalt is apparently too dense, allowing too little air to permeate, while other parts of the road have too many voids, allowing too much air to permeate. The result could be a shorter design life for the road. According to the Western report, submitted by Rodney W. Zubrod, "The inconsistent characteristics including air voids, asphalt content, compaction and gradation will cause variable movement of the asphalt during expected thermal expansion and contraction events. This uneven movement may cause cracking between the variable characteristic areas."
In addition, areas of low air content may push or rut during periods of high temperature. Areas of high air content could unravel from moisture damage leading to accelerated aging and associated cracking. At the time of testing, "No active raveling, rutting or cracking was observed in the surface of the asphalt layer."
In other business, the council:
- tabled a request for a height variance for a proposed four-story motel behind the Bank of the San Juans on Hot Springs Boulevard until more information on the proposed structure was available.
- considered a proposed reconstruction project for the San Juan River which would move the river channel back to the original river bed. Council members asked Garcia to contact property owners on the west side of the river to discuss the project, still in its infancy. They gave the go ahead to continue with the current proposed Riverwalk project provided it could be incorporated into the reconstruction project if that moved ahead in the next five years. The town has received approval from the state to advertise a project to construct a piece of the Riverwalk from Town Hall around the wetlands to a point near the river.
- approved an intergovernmental agreement with Archuleta County for jail service pending final tweaking by staff and the town attorney.
Crime, fires, government issues
prominent in second half of 2003
By Richard Walter
The second half of 2003 began with the traditional Fourth of July celebration - one eagerly anticipated by residents and visitors alike.
That first week of the month also saw local law enforcement agencies seize $24,000 worth of narcotics July 3 in the culmination of a three-month investigation into cocaine distribution in Archuleta and La Plata counties.
According to a joint news release, undercover officers from the Southwest Drug Task Force, with assistance from the Archuleta County Sheriff's Department and the Pagosa Springs Police Department, were able to infiltrate a distribution group, culminating in the seizure of seven ounces of cocaine, eight large bags of marijuana, $9,800 in cash and several weapons.
Several Archuleta County residences were searched. Investigators estimated the street value of the seized narcotics at $24,000.
One unidentified Archuleta County resident was arrested and charged with distribution of a Schedule 2 controlled substance and booked into the Archuleta County Jail on $50,000 bond. More arrests were expected.
Pagosa Springs bareback rider Forest Bramwell always wanted to win the Greeley Independence Stampede.
In 2002, he qualified for the Tour round but received no score after failing to mark his horse out. The 2003 event was a different story.
Bramwell won the Tour round and collected his first aggregate title at the Greeley Independence Stampede in front of a packed house July 4.
He scored 82 points on Beutler & Son Rodeo's Lusty Lady to win the Tour round. He won the aggregate with a total of 164 points on two head.
"Last year I came in here doing good but missed the horse out in the short round," Bramwell told a Greeley newspaper. "I definitely wanted to get that done today. In the back of my mind I was thinking of last year. I'm just going to keep going as hard as I can."
Bramwell, a two-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, followed up the Greeley win by topping the field at the St. Paul (Ore.) Rodeo.
He won the event, with an 82-point ride, this time on Burch Rodeo's Bath Bubbles.
Lightning strikes resulting from a wave of dry thunderstorms passing through southwestern Colorado sparked several fires July 15 on San Juan National Forest and Bureau of Indian Affairs lands near Pagosa Springs.
The largest, a blaze named the "Bolt Fire," started around 3:30 p.m. July 15 in dense stands of ponderosa pine and oak brush.
It was battled into the evening by Forest Service air and ground crews, supported by two tankers, a brush truck and personnel from the Pagosa Fire Protection District.
Aerial support was expected to continue throughout the day July 16 and a Type III firefighting team was en route to help fight the blaze, which had grown to approximately 200 acres but threatened no structures as of 1:30 p.m.
District saga continues
The Upper San Juan Health Service District Board rejected a proposal for privatization of the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center.
Five members of the board, including one member appointed earlier the same night, voted July 15 to move ahead with reorganizing the clinic and maintaining the management oversight currently in place.
Two board members, Ken Morrison and Dick Blide, did not vote in favor of the motion.
Statements regarding the question of the future of the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center were made both before and after the board's action.
Early in the meeting, board member Wayne Wilson said after several discussions with all sides, the budget committee recommended the board reject the privatization proposal.
"In our opinion, the privatization proposal is just too expensive for the district," he said.
A plan for privatizing the clinic was presented to the district board in June by Dr. Mark Wienpahl, Nurse Practitioner Susan Kuhns, Dr. Bob Brown and community member J.R. Ford.
That plan involved the district contracting with Wienpahl - the prospective owner of the private practice - and doctors at the other local private practice - Pagosa Family Medicine - for services to include a 24/7 on-call component, open access and oversight of urgent care.
In return, Wienpahl's group would pay rent to continue to use the clinic building for at least the next five years and manage both the private practice and urgent care.
As of July 16, District Manager Dee Jackson said, with the exception of Wienpahl, who will continue to see patients in the transition, the remainder of the resignations submitted by clinic staff in April had been accepted effective immediately.
Wienpahl said in a phone conversation he intended to continue seeing "established clinic patients" with urgent problems, "for an unspecified period of time."
It was determined Archuleta County voters would be asked on the November election ballot to extend the county sales tax to construction materials, oil and gas production equipment and motor vehicles purchased outside the county's boundaries.
County commissioners approved the ballot proposal July 29 after extensive discussion following receipt of a task force recommendation.
Specifically, the question would propose extending the county's 2-percent sales tax to all building materials purchased outside the county for use in the county; all machinery and equipment used for oil and gas production in the county; and all motor vehicles purchased outside the county for registration here.
A six-member task force, with ex-officio members representing both the county and town of Pagosa Springs, recommended the question be put to ballot.
The Pagosa Fire Protection District announced it hoped to have its own fire training tower before winter.
The district board accepted a Hart Construction Co. bid of $195,410 for the project at the regular meeting Tuesday. The bid included the cost of the training building which was to be manufactured in Kansas City and shipped here for assembly.
The training building was to be constructed near Station 3 on U.S. 84.
When finished, the structure, made of metal coated in pagnite to prevent it from burning, is expected to reduce out-of-town training trips for Pagosa's volunteer firefighters. The design included both two-story and one-story levels for different exercises.
"The building will enable the firefighters to train on different types of fire and rescue," Diane Bower said. To become certified as a Firefighter 1 or 2, a person must complete a live fire test. Until now, Pagosa's firefighters had to travel to Farmington to complete that portion of the certification, taking people and equipment away from the district.
The facility is being paid for with funds from the $2.8 million bond issue passed last year.
The most intensive testing yet in the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP), showed reasonably good performance by most Pagosa Springs students.
The results were released July 31 reflecting statewide testing assessments in English and, at some grade levels, in Spanish.
In the spring, tests were administered in reading and writing to third through 10th grades, mathematics in fifth through 10th grades and science in the eighth grade.
In the seven grades where reading performance was assessed, results showed an increase in five, with fifth and ninth grades showing the most dramatic improvement.
With the exception of the eighth grade, all those tested for writing skills showed significant improvement this year.
Pagosa students seemed somewhat broad-scaled when it came to math results.
Fifth grade, for example, was up from 40 to 49 percent proficient and advanced, but still below the statewide average of 56 percent.
Sixth-grade scores dropped from 49 to 41 percent, compared to 50 percent statewide.
Seventh-grade scores were up from 18 to 23 percent, but the statewide average is 41 percent.
Eighth grade was down from 34 to 31 percent while the statewide average was 38 percent.
The freshman level was up from 24 to 27 percent, but still below the statewide average of 31 percent.
Sophomores scored 17 percent proficient or advanced, compared to 18 percent last year and a 27 percent statewide average.
In science testing, the level at eighth grade dropped from 56 percent in 2002 to 50 percent in 2003, but was still above the statewide average of 49 percent.
Drought conditions eased somewhat in August. Honoring a request Aug. 26 from Sheriff Tom Richards and Chief Warren Grams of the Pagosa Fire Protection District, Archuleta County commissioners approved a resolution lifting countywide fire restrictions that had been in effect since late June.
The decision to ease restrictions came after Richards told the board monsoon rainfall and lower temperatures resulted in higher average humidity levels across the region, thereby lowering the risk of wildfire.
FUSA finally settled
Judge David L. Dickenson approved the proposed Fairfield USA settlement with property owners in subdivisions in the Pagosa Lakes area.
The action in Archuleta County District Court earlier in August cleared the way for 10 years of legal confrontation to come to a close.
As approved, the decision meant property owners who had not paid the annual amenities (FUSA) fee levied by Fairfield on select properties could make the back payments and get a 10-percent discount and waiver of all interest on unpaid amounts if the fees were paid by Sept. 1.
Additionally, the discount was set at 5 percent if the fees were paid by Oct. 1; and refunds would be made of all 2003 fees paid if the property owner was fully paid up by the end of 2002.
Those who had not paid fees through 2002 by the deadline were not eligible for the discounts.
The final date in the process was Dec. 1 when all fees unpaid were due, with no discounts, and with all interest payments still due.
Those who had not paid by that date would be subject to foreclosure for all fees due up to the end of 2002.
The major component of the settlement, according to Keith Newbold, a Durango attorney who represented Fairfield and its later purchaser, Cendant Corp., in all class action suits, is that with fees paid up through Dec. 31, 2002, the fee goes away forever.
West Nile arrives
West Nile Virus was confirmed in Archuleta County in September and one of two horses infected died.
San Juan Veterinary Clinic handled both cases. One was from the Aspen Springs area and the other stabled at a site on North Pagosa Boulevard.
A policy containing draft language addressing prayer during senior functions at the Silver Foxes Den in the Pagosa Springs Community Center was adopted Sept. 16 by Archuleta County commissioners.
According to Bill Steele, county administrator, the policy was based on guidelines set forth by Colorado Area Agencies on Aging and adheres to the principles of the federal Older Americans Act.
The draft language included in the policy adopted by the board Tuesday stated, "Each individual participant clearly has a free choice whether or not to pray, either silently or audibly. The county, in any manner, including any and all employees of the county, will not sponsor lead, or organize the prayer."
Home Rule adopted
Pagosa Springs was Colorado's newest home rule municipality, as of Oct. 7
Voters gave the thumbs up to a 45-page charter by a margin of 68 to 27. A total of 96 ballots were cast out of a possible 925 registered voters.
Town Administrator Mark Garcia said, to be official, the charter had to be filed with the Colorado Secretary of State. "We have 20 days to do that," he said. Once it was filed, the town began to operate under the charter written by a nine-member commission. A home rule charter operates like a local constitution, setting government structure and organization for a community.
Garcia said the change would have little, if any, immediate impact. It did, however, remove term-limit considerations from local elections which could allow some members of the town council the option of running for re-election in the next local race.
Becoming a home rule community does not mean the town can simply ignore state statutes. In all matters of statewide concern, the town is still be bound to state law. The flexibility in home rule is tied to local issues only.
The charter included 14 articles covering: general provisions, town council, procedures for the council, elections, initiative, referendum and recall, town attorney and municipal court, town administration, boards and commissions, budget and finance, utilities, franchises and town property, land use, development and districts, legal provisions, and transition provisions.
At the polls
The voters of Archuleta County spoke loudly Nov. 4.
A much-maligned Archuleta County use tax proposal was overwhelming trounced, 3,003 to 350.
At the same time, voters in Archuleta School District 50 Joint gave the District 3 seat to Sandy Caves in a 1,777 to 1,027 win over Gene Crabtree.
In District 2, Michael Haynes was unopposed for election to the seat he filled by appointment, replacing Russel Lee, who moved from the district. Haynes drew 2,103 votes.
After hearing no comments from a public which did not attend, the Archuleta County Board of Commissioners adopted the 2004 county budget Dec. 15 following a brief hearing in the courthouse meeting room.
Total monies appropriated for expenditures from all of the county's 26 funds in 2004 are slightly lower than they were for 2003, totaling $30,296,958.
With respect to county property taxes, the effective levy rate for next year is set at 18.760 mills, up slightly from this year's rate of 18.545 mills.
Based on an assessed county valuation of $192,072, 826, the 18.760 levy rate will generate $3,603,190 in property tax revenue next year - slightly over this year's total of roughly $3.34 million.
Property tax revenues for 2004 will be divided among three separate funds, with $2,842,870 of the total going to the General Fund, $672,255 going to the Road and Bridge Fund and $88,065 headed to the Social Services Fund.
Increased assessed valuation of property within its bounds will mean a lower tax levy for Archuleta School District 50 Joint.
The district's board of education approved the levy of 29.5 mills against a total assessed valuation of $185,687,483 during a rescheduled meeting at 6:30 a.m. Dec. 12.
That assessed valuation total includes the Hinsdale County section of the district valued at $1,469,824.
Nancy Schutz, school district business manager, told the school board the levy will - assuming all taxes are paid - produce $5,477,781 in revenue.
The 29.500 levy includes 24.457 in general operating expense for a total of $4,541,359; 0.302 for refunds and abatements totaling $56,078; and 4.741 for general obligation bonds and interest totaling $880,344.
Schutz noted the levy is down from 30.4 mills last year, a 3-percent drop, assessed valuation is up in excess of $10.2 million (despite a slight decrease in the Hinsdale County portion), a 6-percent increase, allowing an increase in revenue of $144,290 or 3 percent.
The Pagosa Fire Protection District Board accepted the 2004 budget Nov. 18 - with a few minor changes.
The draft budget included a general fund of about $1.3 million, debt services of about $580,000 in monies left over from the bond and interest payments and a $2.5 million pension fund.
Two more members of the Upper San Juan Health Service District Board of Directors submitted letters of resignation in November.
Wayne Wilson and Martha Garcia said they sent letters of resignation to the board chairman. Wilson said his went out the week following the October meeting. Garcia said hers was sent the last week of October.
A total of five members of the district board resigned within a year's time, leaving just two elected members on the board - Ken Morrison and Patty Tillerson. The rest are appointed.
Sign code squabbles
Reconstitute the sign code committee and start over.
Retain the code as approved in June.
Retain all existing signs.
Burn all existing signs.
The public discussion on possible changes to the Pagosa Springs sign code bounced from those extremes to several spots in between over 45 minutes Dec. 16 at the town's planning commission meeting. At least 16 people addressed commission members and a standing room only audience.
When it was over, the commission voted to recommend a couple amendments to the code - but took grandfathering off the table -a change they considered following a workshop Dec. 2.
The planning commission's recommendation was forwarded to the Pagosa Springs Town Council for final consideration. The council was set face the issue at its regular meeting in January 2004.
Date High Low Precipitation
Type Depth Moisture
Calmer, drier weather forecast for coming week
By Tom Carosello
With regard to snow quantity, it wasn't one for the record books - but had a big impact nevertheless.
Though it fell short of breaking any historical snowfall marks, last weekend's storm system was enough to boost the water content in the southern San Juan Mountains snowpack by up to four inches.
The storm also triggered some of the heaviest avalanche activity on record near Wolf Creek Pass, and though conditions have stabilized somewhat in the past few days, authorities are cautioning residents to be wary when traveling into higher elevations.
"Conditions are becoming less threatening daily, although there is still some danger in the back country," said Mark Mueller, an avalanche forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
"I'd say conditions will continue to improve in the next few days, barring any additional heavy snowfall," added Mueller. "But we're still urging people to be extremely careful out there."
According to the latest forecasts for the Four Corners region from the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction, the next seven days are not likely to include a repeat performance of last week's winter storm activity.
Skies should remain partly cloudy throughout today; highs are predicted in the 30s, with lows anticipated in the 10-20 range.
Breezy, sunny conditions are forecast for Friday, as are highs in the 30s and lows around zero.
Saturday's forecast includes a 30-percent chance for isolated snow showers, highs in the mid-30s and lows in the single digits.
Sunday through Tuesday should bring partly-cloudy skies, a slim chance for snow flurries, highs in the 30s and lows in the teens.
Mostly-sunny conditions are expected for Wednesday, along with highs around 40 and lows near 10.
The average high temperature recorded last week at Stevens Field was 32 degrees. The average low for the week was four degrees. Precipitation/moisture totals for the week amounted to four inches; snow depth totaled 34.75 inches.
Wolf Creek Ski Area reports a summit depth of 105 inches, a midway depth of 101 inches and a year-to-date snowfall total of 223 inches.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center reports the current avalanche danger in the southern San Juan Mountains is "moderate" to "considerable," especially near Wolf Creek Pass.
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 180 percent of average.
San Juan River flow ranged from approximately 15 cubic feet per second to 60 cubic feet per second last week. The river's historic median flow for the week of Jan. 8 is roughly 50 cubic feet per second.
Youth basketball leagues will open action tonight
By Joe Lister Jr.
We are excited and 2004 looks like it's off to a great start.
The 9-10 year olds and the 11-12 year olds have been split up and practicing for the past month. Our first games are scheduled tonight.
The Nuggets and Jazz kick off the 2004 season at 5:30 p.m. at the community center gymnasium. Then, on the 11-12 schedule we have the Cavs and Jazz at 7:30 p.m. in the junior high gymnasium.
These games are being played to accommodate coaches and players who have qualified for the regional Elks Hoop Shoot in Cortez Jan. 10. The rest of the teams begin play that day in both gyms mentioned above.
The younger group will play one full round equaling eight games total for the season, followed by a single elimination tournament that starts Feb. 2, with the finals Feb. 7 in the community center gymnasium.
The 11-12 year olds will play two rounds and a total 10 games. The season finale single-elimination tournament will start on Feb. 2, with the championship game Feb. 7 in the community center.
Come see these energetic youngsters play basketball on any given weekday of January.
For a daily schedule please call our sports hotline - 264-6658.
Get the mothballs out of your basketball shoes, break out the sports cream and plan on trying to work yourself into shape for the 2004 adult basketball season.
Open gym for men will be 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays Jan. 13, 20 and 27.
The gym will be open for women 7-9 p.m. on Thursdays, Jan. 15, 22 and 29, at the junior high school.
Captains and coaches please start to formalize your teams, we plan to have a coaches' meeting and sign-up 7 p.m. Jan. 22 in Town Hall.
If you have any questions please call Myles Gabel at 264-4151, Ext. 232.
Due to the much-needed snowfall we are behind on getting to the skate ponds, however sometime this week we will clear off the ponds for open public skating.
Please feel free to call me at 264-4151, Ext. 231, for a skating update.
'Road-warrior' Pirates resume play tomorrow
By Richard Walter
By Tom Carosello
For Pagosa basketball fans still searching for a can't-miss New Year's resolution, consider the following:
"I promise to attend every Pirate home game during the month of January."
Since the top-ranked Pirates and Head Coach Jim Shaffer have exactly one such game on their schedule this month, it's an easy notion to fulfill.
Simply take a seat inside the high school gym Jan. 16 - when the Pirates open Intermountain League play against Bayfield at 7 p.m. - then forget about living up to surefire resolutions until next year.
The Pirates, on the other hand, have their sights set on loftier goals, such as winning another IML championship and being the first Pagosa Springs team since 1960 to capture a state title.
With five of the next six contests slated on the road, the tasks undertaken by Shaffer's squad may seem daunting - yet the Pirates have adapted well, thus far, to the road-warrior mentality.
Undefeated, the Pirates have proven worthy of their preseason No. 1 ranking among Class 3A squads (Denver Post poll), winning by an average of 26 points per game while holding opponents to just 35 points per contest - with four of their seven wins earned away from home.
During the first three weeks of the season, Pagosa used a balanced scoring attack and suffocating defense to claim first-place honors at the Buena Vista Invitational Tournament Dec. 5-6, the Wolf Creek Classic Dec. 11-13 and the Pueblo Invitational Tournament Dec. 19-20.
After a three-week layoff, Pagosa will look to improve to 8-0 tomorrow when they travel to Aztec, N.M. for an 8 p.m. battle with the Tigers.
Following the Jan. 16 home showdown with the rival Wolverines, Pagosa travels to Bloomfield, N.M. Jan. 17 for the first of four straight games on the road. Game time for the Pirates-Bobcats matchup is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Kirtland, N.M. will host the Pirates Jan. 22 for a 7 p.m. contest, then IML action resumes the following evening when Pagosa travels to the San Luis Valley to take on "the other Pirates" and Monte Vista standout Clinton Medina, who leads the state in scoring at 24 points per game.
The Monte Vista matchup could prove particularly interesting due to the fact the game will boast two of the state's top-20 scorers - Medina at No. 1 - and Pagosa junior Caleb Forrest, who currently ranks at No. 13 with a scoring average of 19 points per game.
The extended road trip finally comes to a close Jan. 29 when the Pirates visit Ignacio for the third IML contest of the season (game time 7 p.m.), then Pagosa opens a three-game home stretch at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 against Centauri.
Monte Vista comes to town Feb. 7 for a 7 p.m. duel, then Ignacio visits the following week for a 7 p.m. clash Feb. 12.
The Pirates wrap up the regular season with away matchups against Bayfield, 7 p.m. Feb. 13, and Centauri, 7 p.m. Feb 21, before participating in the IML tournament in Centauri Feb. 27-28. (Game times to be announced.)
Pagosa squad named to challenge touring Harlem Ambassadors
By Ashley Walkup
Special to The SUN
The Harlem Ambassadors will have stiff competition when they come to town Jan. 18.
Buckskin Towing and Troy Ross Construction have assembled the local challenging team, appropriately named the "Pagosa Ringers."
Our very talented and competitive Pagosa athletes who will compete against the Ambassadors include: Jon Forrest, David Snarr, Yul Wilson, Rok Wilson, Cord Ross, Troy Ross, Cody Ross, Les Lister and Brad Schick.
The game is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Pagosa Springs High School gym, located on South 8th Street. Advance ticket prices will be: students-senior citizens $6, adults $8. Ticket prices at the door will be: students-senior citizens $8, and adults $10. Children 5 and under will be admitted free.
Tickets can be purchased from the following local businesses: Wells Fargo, Bank of Colorado, Bank of the San Juans, Citizens Bank, Vectra Bank, Pagosa Fun Place, Ski and Bow Rack, and the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce.
For more information contact the Pagosa Springs Community Center at 264-4152.
Grapplers putting their all on the mats this week
By Karl Isberg
You like wrestling?
Well, if the weather holds, and the creek don't rise (or, more accurately, if the pass don't close) this is the week to be at the Pagosa Springs High School gymnasium.
In the busiest week of the Pirates' home schedule, fans will have an opportunity, beginning tonight, to catch three days of dual match and tournament action featuring some of the best teams and wrestlers in the region.
Tonight, at 5 p.m., the Pirates open the 2004 portion of the schedule hosting a tri meet with Monte Vista and Durango. The team will have a dual match with each team; Monte and Durango will battle in a dual.
The match tonight with Monte Vista is significant in two respects. First, the dual counts toward the Intermountain League standings, in a league with at least four strong squads. Each IML team wrestles every other team in a dual meet during the regular season; the league champ is determined in the process. Second: Monte Vista finished ahead of Pagosa at the Warrior Classic just before the Christmas break. Monte is always tough, but the finish at the Warrior came as a slight surprise. Tonight affords Pagosa wrestlers a chance to make a point.
"The Monte Vista dual figures to be real close," said Pirate Coach Dan Janowsky. "We very well may each win the same number of matches and the winner could be decided on who gets the most bonus points. Monte has some real good kids; they have four kids I figured before the year began to be state placers, and they are not really weak at any spot. We'll have some good matchups with them."
Durango will head to the gym tonight with less fire power than in previous years, but the 5A Demons figure to be excellent competition nonetheless.
"I've only seen two of their wrestlers," said the coach, "and they finished behind us at the Warrior. They're rebuilding and I don't really know what to expect."
Another dual is set for tomorrow night at 6 p.m. when Pagosa faces off in the home gym against Taos, N.M. The Pirates fought Taos at the first meet of the season - the Rocky Ford Duals - and won the match.
Janowsky does not assume the earlier win spells an easy time against Taos tomorrow. "They have some good wrestlers," he said. "We beat them handily, but they will be tougher this time around, with wrestlers at more competitive weights."
Saturday, the Rocky Mountain Tournament takes place at the gym. The Rocky has become one of the prime tournaments in southwest Colorado and this year's lineup features several teams that guarantee a high-caliber event.
Most notable in the lineup is Alamosa. The traditional 4A powerhouse is back in gear this season - young, but talented. Aztec, N.M. comes to town as a perennial threat for the title. Aztec got off to a slow start due to prolonged football playoffs in New Mexico, but the team should be rounding into shape. All five IML teams are together for this tournament and the competition between them should be fierce.
"Alamosa has rebuilt," said Janowsky. "They were in the top 10 at the Warrior. And I think Aztec will have recovered from football. I'd rank those two teams as the top competitors this weekend. But, all the IML teams will be here and I think we could have one of the tightest team races in years. I'm interested to see how Centauri does, as well as us, Monte and Ignacio even Bayfield. I think the gap between second, third and fourth could be narrower than in the past."
The Pirates have been back in the practice room for several days now, but whether the athletes will be in top condition remains to be seen. Certainly, the amount of action set this week will remedy a lack of conditioning in short order.
"We had some guys come in heavier than I thought they should," Janowsky said of his varsity. "It's tough for some kids to stay away for 10 days and stay disciplined. We'll wrestle hard this week to get our legs back and get our wind. I'd say, by Saturday, we should be back in the groove. I'm excited: You don't get a three-day home stand very often."
Ladies, minus one starter, will go back to action tonight
By Richard Walter
Those of you waiting to see the Pagosa Springs Lady Pirates in action on the home basketball court will have to wait two more weeks for the first home game of the new year.
In the meantime, they'll return from vacation routine with a 6:30 p.m. battle tonight against the Dolores Bears on the latter's home court.
Don't take those Bears lightly. They have been in state rankings with regularity and right now are ranked ninth in Class 2A by Coloradopreps.com.
The same service, which bases its rankings on recommendations of participating coaches, has Pagosa Springs ranked fifth in Class 3A.
Tomorrow night, the hometown girls go on the road again, this time out of state for a 6:30 p.m. game against the always tough Aztec Tigers.
That is the gymnasium in which the then high-flying Lady Pirates lost standout forward Lori Walkup with a broken bone in her hand last year and soon slipped into a long slump. Her return sparked the Pagosans into the first round of the state playoffs.
With a record standing now at 7-1 on the season, the lone loss a shellacking by Class 4A Montezuma-Cortez, coach Bob Lynch is cautiously optimistic.
"We've played down to some weak teams and up to some strong ones and have shown an ability to lose a lead and come back," he said.
"But," he added, "we don't want to have to do that. We've been drilling on denying the opposition the ball.
"We need to be more aggressive when playing with the lead," he said. "When you let the other team back in you give them confidence. If we're up by eight points, I want to see us go up by 12 or 16. We need to develop a killer instinct."
"We've been good at finding ways to win, barely," he said. "We shouldn't have to struggle like that if we play our own game and keep the progression of scoring under control."
He likes the pressure the squad has been able to generate with a full court press and has been pleased with the reduction in turnovers since the Cortez fiasco.
Asked to evaluate the Intermountain League prospects, he said he envisions Centauri as the team to beat with Ignacio strong right out of the chute.
Monte Vista, he said, is a question mark, "though they came on strong at the end of last season and have a number of returning players. Bayfield seems to be rebuilding, but can always be tough, especially at home."
He will have to depend on the bench a little more for the two games this week.
Emily Buikema, the 5-11 sophomore post player, will miss both contests while with the high school television station staff on tour in California.
He said he plans to start the other two tall girls, 6-2 Caitlyn Jewell and 5-10 Caitlin Forrest in the high-low posts, but the squad also has been working on some other offensive plans for the week's games.
On Jan. 16, Pirate fans will finally get the first chance of the new year to see their squad at home.
Visiting for the first Intermountain League game of the season will be the aforementioned Bayfield Wolverines. Then, its back on the road for a Jan. 17 excursion to Bloomfield for a clash with the always tough Bobcats.
The last two games of the month will have Pagosa back on the road, first to Monte Vista on Jan. 23 and Ignacio Jan. 29 as IML competition gets hot and heavy.
Feast on home appearances in early February as play continues with home contests against Centauri, Monte Vista and Ignacio before closing out the regular season back on the road with games at Bayfield and Centauri.
Quite early in the morning on New Year's Day I was returning to Pagosa from the La Plata County Airport with my two dogs when I experienced car trouble and had to stop.
It was dark and snowing, and I had no cell phone coverage to call for assistance. Unfortunately, there appeared to be no one else traveling U.S. 160 at that hour. I was resigned to waiting in the cold until daylight.
After some time, a very nice man in a white pickup stopped to offer help. His assistance and physical presence was a terrific comfort. In the rush to get out of the cold as we parted, I failed to get his name, nor do I believe I adequately thanked him for his assistance.
He told me that he and his wife lived in Pagosa Springs. If you recognize yourself, please let me say now how deeply appreciative I was for your thoughtful help to me that morning. As a newer resident to Pagosa, I am often reminded of -and thankful for - the generosity of spirit I've found among my neighbors.
Certain health care clinics and emergency centers are required to be licensed by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. The Mary Fisher Clinic is such a facility.
The statutes that govern such facilities are the Colorado Department of Health Standards for Hospitals and Health Facilities. This is the division of state government that recently investigated our health service district.
As a result of the investigation at the clinic, the district has been cited for 10 violations of the law. Details of those violations appeared in the SUN article last week.
The article does not tell the whole story. There are over 35 references in the report regarding lack of policies, no regulations, no documentation, failure to report an incident, failure to post a required public notice, no evidence, no protocols, and others.
These range in importance from the janitor's closet to the inadequate protection of individual medical records, to the doctors and nurses not being certified for cardiac life support at the time of the investigation.
PR person Kathy Saley was quoted as saying, "When Dee Jackson, executive director, joined the district in 2002, she requested the policies we were cited for (in a previous investigation) however it was reported by the staff at that time no such policies existed."
Certainly one must question why, nearly two years later, those very policies still are not in place. What have we been doing all that time?
One board member recently stated that we now have a better health care system than we have had in 23 years. I think that director should take another look.
Mike Coffman was not elected to the Legislature nor as chief executive officer of the state. He is the state treasurer. He is custodian of the state funds.
Yet, here he is, right out in front, leading a gaggle of disgruntled legislators, and newspeople, in a campaign to emasculate several voter initiated and voter approved amendments to the state constitution.
They seem to think it is a perversion of the democratic process for the people to place limits on government spending and taxes.
The people passed, and recently reiterated support for, the Gallagher Amendment concerning property taxes. It has no bearing on state tax collections. The state does not levy and collect property taxes.
The people then passed the TABOR amendment, which limits government spending and requires the refund of tax revenue collected over and above those limits. The people thought such a limit necessary because of the ever-increasing revenue from flat rate sales and income taxes. Taxpayers believed they should receive some benefit from those excess collections, by way of refunds and possible tax reductions and that government, probably, would not use the excess wisely.
The people then passed Amendment 23, requiring additional state support of the education system. This was in response to the incessant clamor for more education funding. This amendment does not conflict with TABOR. It merely requires the reallocation of available funds. We pay our elected representatives to do this.
Coffman also wants to set up, during good times, a rainy day fund, controlled by the Legislature, in order to continue government spending during times when tax collections might decline. This would simply become a slush fund, used at legislative pleasure. The truth is, tax spenders never want to reduce spending for any reason. They prefer to squeeze more, if possible, from the taxpayers.
The above amendments have been on the books for several years. Most legislators, and many other tax spenders, have been through election campaigns spending gobs of time and money to attain their office. Why? If they could handle the job, as they said, before being elected, why do they now whine that they can't?
Perhaps it is not out of order to suggest they resign. Replacements, probably could and would, work within the job requirements.
In the Dec. 18 editorial you made reference to the "nastiness on both sides of the issue" in the health care debate.
At first the employee family of the EMS and clinic spent painful months trying to deal with the board and administrator in private. The conversations were calm, respectful and fruitless.
This was a time for compromise. Mrs. Jackson might have backed off and the board could have responded positively. They didn't.
By the time a small group of citizens went to the public for help the employee family was fractured and in a raw emotional state from constant badgering and fear of job loss. We did the best we could to honestly represent the workers' concerns and feelings.
It was the "feelings" part that took it to a different level for this was not just a difference in opinion; it was an unjustified attack on a system and individuals in a spiteful manner that hurt both to the core. Pent up personal grievances were so great that when the workers and citizen group gained courage and voice it became an emotional avalanche. We answered back in kind.
Compromise time? The board hired a conflict negotiator who offered a fair compromise. The workers agreed. The board turned it down.
Another point for compromise was the "Six Point Plan." It could have been a wonderful new beginning. The workers agreed. The board turned it down.
I've been asked many times to put the problem into a "nutshell." A community medical system is very complicated and covers a wide spectrum. This board and administration simply do not have the knowledge or experience to be aware of and thus work on more than a narrow part of that spectrum. The problem is, they think what they know is all there is to know!
Several professional advisors and investigations pointed to this shortcoming. All were ignored.
The time for compromise has passed. It is time for election, time for the citizens to vote on the type of health care leadership they want in Archuleta County.
It has been a long and frustrating path. Some of us may have acted and spoke from some very natural, human emotions but we have been honest and not acted from the "nasty" aspersions you list. I've never worked alongside of or been more proud to stand with better people than these. They are good citizens who have selflessly given time and energy to their community.
This not aggrandizing; it is agonizing.
An aside: In the early part of the last century some heated issue arose between the county commissioners and the public. It was reported in the newspaper the citizens chased the commissioners into the forest where they stayed considerable time. Nothing's new under the sun.
Dry, chapped hands bug you?
Try our new paraffin testing
By Laura Bedard
We are starting something new and luxurious for our seniors - paraffin treatments for your hands.
On Jan. 12 and 26, Sharon Aldahl will dip your hands in warm wax and then wrap them in warm gloves for a couple of minutes. This makes them soft and the heat can be helpful for arthritis.
Some of our seniors tried this Christmas Eve and really liked how soft their hands were. Even a couple of the men tried it and liked it. This treatment is quite wonderful and it's free, so come either day at around 12:30 p.m. and Sharon will pamper you.
AARP Tax Preparation will be available again in February. Counselors will prepare your taxes or review your self-prepared tax return and answer any questions. This is available to any age, low and moderate income. Free e-filing is available if tax returns are prepared by the tax aid counselors. Times and dates are not set yet, so keep reading the Senior News to get the details, or check the posters that will be put up in January at the library, post office and community center.
We want to say "get well" to George Golightly and Clara Kelly. We miss you and will keep your chairs in the dining room warm.
"What is the best way from a tax perspective to transfer the title of my elderly parent's home to one of their children? We would like to do this before either of them has to go into a nursing home to protect the home from a Medicaid lien after they pass away. We're aware of Medicaid's three-year 'look back' period but are hoping the parents will stay healthy for a few more years. P.W."
"You can either set up a life estate or place the home in an irrevocable trust. They both give the children a step-up basis after the parents die (although the Bush tax law takes this away for life estates after 2010 - but the law may be changed before that). Trusts have a five-year look-back instead of three. There are a lot of other pros and cons of each that can't be fully explained here. Your best bet is to sit down with an elder law attorney to determine what makes the most sense in your situation." (Excerpt from ElderLawNews)
"Christmas trees for sale.
"This was not always the case.
"My Dad used to take me into the forest a week before Christmas to cut a Christmas tree. The decoration of that tree was an event. After the tree was decorated, Mom and Dad placed the candle holders and candles in the proper places on the tree. When all was ready, the candles were lit. What a beautiful sight! Then the door was opened and friends and relatives were invited to see the tree. Many 'Oohs' and 'Ahs' were heard. Dad never forgot to bring a large bucket of water into the room, just in case. Do you remember?"
On Friday, we will be showing our free movie at 1 p.m. in the lounge. This week's feature is a new movie that has been highly acclaimed, "Seabiscuit." As always, popcorn is only 25 cents.
Jan. 9 - Qi Gong, 10 a.m.; Medicare Counseling, 11 a.m.; blood pressure check, 11 a.m.; free movie day, "Seabiscuit" at 1 p.m.
Jan. 12 - Paraffin treatment for seniors, 12:30 p.m.; bridge for fun, 1 p.m.
Jan 13 - Yoga in Motion, 10 a.m.; advanced computer class, 10:30 a.m.
Jan. 14 - Beginning computer class. 10:30 a.m.
Jan 16 - Qi Gong, 10 a.m.; Medicare counseling, 11 a.m.; Moonrise at Chimney Rock with Glen Raby, 12:45 p.m.
Jan. 9 - BBQ chicken, baked potato, Caribbean vegetables, roll and plums
Jan. 12 - Baked ham, yams with apples, green beans with mushrooms, vanilla pudding and roll
Jan. 13 - Chicken and noodles, glazed carrots, tossed salad, salad crackers and pudding
Jan. 14 - Liver and onions, boiled potato, spring blend, bran muffin and apricot (alternate meal available on request)
Jan. 16 - Roast beef, mashed potatoes/gravy, broccoli blend, citrus cup and roll.
Mardi Gras, annual meeting
Jan. 17; invitations going out
By Sally Hamiester
Invitations for our Annual Meeting/Mardi Gras Bash will be going out very shortly, and we do hope you will respond to be there with bells on - or, at the very least, with a wonderful wild and wacky costume.
You know that you will be rewarded for winning Best Costume in the male and female category, so it is worth some thought as to your attire that evening. Even though the Evil Twin no longer resides here, she has promised (threatened) to return for the Mardi Gras with the oh-so-traditional costumes for us. We'll see.
The fun begins Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. at Pagosa Lodge when you will begin working your way through all the food stations featuring Cajun delights to ultimately reach the Ponderosa Room for the annual meeting and awards ceremony.
This year the Bayou Room (Southface) will feature chicken and sausage gumbo, crab cakes and fried catfish.
In the Bourbon Street Lounge (bar), you will find peanuts and pretzels and a full bar, and the French Quarter will offer cajun spiced chicken strips and the ever-popular hush puppies.
You will find the pralines and beignets at the dessert station in the Piñon Room along with the New Orleans Mardi Gras must - the King Cake. If you happen to be the lucky devil who finds the baby in your piece of cake, you will win a year's free membership in the Chamber of Commerce which can be quite the considerable amount of dough according to the size of your business.
At the annual meeting, we will bid adieu to our outgoing directors (which will most likely include some silliness), award Pagosa Pride, Citizen of the Year and Volunteer of the Year along with Best Costume prizes.
We hope that you have already voted for your favorite candidate in those categories, and Mardi Gras will be your last opportunity to vote for your three top choices for Chamber board director.
It truly has become a night jam-packed with fun-filled frivolity, great food, exceptional networking and schmoozing potential, and the absolute prima opportunity to wear the most outrageous costume you can conjure.
I will point out, however, that Mardi Gras, like all other Chamber events, requires no particular dress code. We just want you to show up in whatever you're comfortable wearing and enjoy yourself.
Tickets for this event are $25 presale and $30 at the door, as they have been for the past several years. We try very hard to make this an affordable evening for everyone and feel that you get a big bang for your buck on this one.
You will receive an RSVP card with your invitation, and we request that you make your reservation on or before Jan. 15. We hope you will join us for the very best way to beat the January doldrums - the Chamber of Commerce Mardi Gras. Just give us a call with questions at 264-2360.
New Year's resolution
Doug wrote an excellent article on this subject a couple of weeks ago, and I used it as a springboard to say a bit more about encouraging civility and kindness in our everyday interactions with one another.
While we both recognized that the past couple of years have been especially trying, neither of us is willing to accept that as an excuse for some of the mean-spirited finger pointing and rude behavior exhibited in 2003.
Our hope was that we would see more kind and forgiving behavior in 2004, and I would like to offer a personal testimony about that very subject.
After the copious snowfall of last Friday which continued through Saturday, I donned my shoveling attire Saturday morning with the intention of attacking the mountain of snow that had accumulated overnight and that morning in my driveway.
When I opened my garage door to trudge out and begin that somewhat overwhelming task, lo and behold, there stood Mo-Reece and Natalie Woodruff with snow shovels in hand and a truck armed with a plowing blade.
We spent the next hour or so shoveling our brains out (didn't take me long) and laughing and chatting. In my humble opinion, this is the very essence of friendship and caring. Not just everyone is willing to toil and sweat for friends, but Maurice and Natalie had no compunction whatsoever about coming out on a day when highway conditions were hazardous at best and temperatures not at all inviting.
It would have been far safer and more comfortable for them to have stayed at home, consuming large quantities of hot chocolate and watching movies, but they elected to lend a helping hand to an extremely grateful friend.
I will not soon forget their kindness and hope that I will have a number of opportunities to "pay it forward" in the future and somehow pay them back for such selfless behavior. I would like to consider this magnanimous gesture as a good omen and excellent model for all of us in 2004. Thanks, Maurice and Natalie for setting the standard on thoughtfulness.
In an effort to reach more folks on the Front Range and in the Colorado Springs areas, we are launching an ad campaign in AAA Encompass magazine which reaches about 445,000 Colorado AAA members.
Our marketing committee has been studying and researching the past few months, and we all concur that even though we enjoy a high visitation rate with our Colorado neighbors, we could do more in the Denver/Colorado Springs areas.
Since AAA membership boasts upwards of 45 million, we will obviously continue our presence in the Colorado/Utah TourBook as we have done for the past six or seven years. The return on that one is phenomenal.
We are continuing our presence in a number of periodicals in 2004 and are looking into doing more in the Arizona and Phoenix markets this year, so stay tuned to the Chamber channel for more.
Gov. Bill Owens is definitely touting a positive financial forecast for Colorado in 2004 even though the Joint Budget Committee cautions that excess funds won't be used to fund programs that have already been cut over the past two years. The extra money will be used to fund supplemental budget requests which help tide over cash-strapped departments.
State revenues are projected to be $77 million higher this fiscal year than was anticipated in September and $35 million in 2005. This is good news for Colorado and the first time in two years that the state revenues are being revised upward after two years of downward revisions. It looks like we're on our way to both statewide and national stabilization at long last so maybe we can all breathe a little easier about the economy.
We want to add the Chamber's congratulations to local treasure Fred Harman on the wonderful article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal Dec. 23, touting the wonders of both the museum and Fred's dad, Fred Harman Jr.
It was a great piece, with a caricature of Fred Jr. and lots of info about the famous Red Ryder/Little Beaver syndicated comic strip.
There were also a number of allusions to the more current film, "A Christmas Story," in which the young protagonist, Ralphie Parker, engages in a hilarious quest for a Red Ryder BB gun.
Just to give you some sense of perspective, the gun was sold by J.C. Penney Co. in 1939 for $2.95. Yikes, you can't buy a greeting card for that amount of money now.
If you missed the article, we have a copy here at the Chamber and would be happy to share it with you.
We welcome one new member this week and nine renewals and can't think of a better way to usher in the New Year. We do indeed appreciate each and every member and are ever so grateful to you for your continued support and loyalty.
Our friends Doug and Lynn Cook join us with Backcountry Barbeque, Inc. at 301 N. Pagosa Boulevard, B-2, in the Greenbriar Plaza (formerly The Pie Shoppe). Expect to find delicious hickory-smoked, pit-cooked pork shoulder, pork ribs. beef briskets, chicken, freshly ground hamburgers and homemade baked beans. I sampled Doug's cooking at the Galles picnic last summer and can personally attest to its tastiness. You can give them a call at 731-COOK (2665) for more information about Backcountry Barbeque, Inc. We thank both board director Angie Gayhart and Lynn Cook for recruiting Doug and will cheerfully reward each lady with a SunDowner pass and our thanks.
Our renewals this week include Connie Grossman with Armadillo Packaging in Dallas, Texas; John and Carol Frakes with Eagle Eye Inspection Services; Nathan Thomas with H & R Block; Joan and Jerry Rohwer with Moonlight Books; Art Fox with Rocky Mountain Scenics; Bob Scott with Edward Jones Investments; Maria Kuros with Econo Lodge; Lynn Cook with Four Seasons Land Company, Inc./GMAC Real Estate and Susan Angelo with Pagosa Realty Rentals, LLC. Our thanks to one and all.
Great classics are seldom read
We are having to store many books until our addition is done.
Staff members were discussing this project the other day, and commented that we have many great classics that never get checked out.
Isn't it the perfect time to revisit some of your favorites now that we have snowy afternoons to use as excuses?
What is your favorite? How about "Lost Horizon," by James Hilton?
An eye for eagles
Colorado's Wildlife Company readers are helping to save the bald eagle.
A voluntary contribution on the nongame checkoff on the state income tax form is helping support bald eagle recovery. We all like to see these magnificent birds.
Keep your eyes open down on the San Juan behind the River Center as one of the bald eagles likes to sit up in the trees there and watch for fish.
As you ride by any river here, scan the tops of the large trees for a sighting. There are many to be seen out west of town too.
The bald eagle has the snowy white head and tail with yellow legs. Immature bald eagles are often mistaken for golden eagles. Their legs are featherless to help them catch fish in the water.
Bald eagles arrive in late autumn attracted by our relatively mild winters. They stay until spring and then migrate up north again. But some do stay and breed.
In 1997 according to Colorado Wildlife, there were 29 known bald eagle nest sites in Colorado. The birds are now off the endangered list, but are still classified as a threatened species.
It is illegal to possess any eagle feathers or body parts, nests, eggs or live birds without a permit. So enjoy watching them but that's all.
And check out our wildlife brochure and other material on this national symbol.
Tomorrow is the deadline for architects to send us proposals on our project.
The board is excited to take the first step of interviewing interested parties very soon. If all goes as planned, the time line calls for breaking ground this summer, being dried in by October, and opening in February of 2005.
We are getting much closer to our financial goal. We will soon know how much it will really cost.
We want to thank Mr. Burggraaf of Burggraaf Associates for his bid of $400 for the history book collection. He was pleased with his purchase, and his bid helped the building fund.
Speaking of the building fund, we thank Donald Logan and Patricia Howard in honor of Bob and Carole Howard for a Director gift.
Jon and Diane Bower donated as Benefactors. Thanks to Dr. Herbert and Betty Nason, Barney and Shari Pierce for Sponsor gifts. Margaret and Jim Wilson donated in memory of the Ross Brothers, Jean Krausse and Zoe M. Bryant. Associates donors were James and Sharon Sawicki. Jo Bridges is a Donor, as are Ralph and Lois Gibson. Other: Evangeline Catchpole.
Materials came from Duncan Lawrence, Annie Ryder, John Baker, Julie Gates.
Health care requirements are being eased
As I have often mentioned in this column I suspect the stringent VA Health Care policies that were suddenly enacted Jan. 17 last year will be relaxed in time to come.
Some of that has already happened, and I suspect easing of VAHC rules for eligibility will entitle more veterans to VA health care.
As you may recall the VA last year suddenly closed the enrollment door in VAHC to all veterans except those with 50 percent or more service-connected disabilities and/or who meet certain financial criteria. Those rules have often been repeated here so I won't go into detail at this time.
I received information this week the secretary of VA has issued a new directive that now makes VA health care available to all veterans with any service connected disability, for that disability.
Many veterans in our area have less then 50 percent SCD, some even have SCD, but zero rating. The current eligibility requirements would still be in effect for other health issues, not service-connected and the financial requirements.
However, as I see it, if a veteran can get into VA health care under any of these priority rulings, he can also receive health care and prescriptions for other needs. If the veteran is assigned to VA primary health care for even one area of eligibility, then there should be no reason why other health needs cannot be met at the same time. And, once in the VA health care system, you are usually grandfathered into the system. You won't lose those benefits because the rules change.
Veterans groups and congressmen have been waging war with the VA to restore health care benefits to all veterans, as it should be. The VA claims its health care facilities and budget are stretched to the limit. According to the VA it can't take care of any but the highest priority veterans.
My opinion has been for some time that if they would allow VA prescription drugs through private medicine, the demand for VA doctor's primary health care time would suddenly decrease. That decrease could be significant.
I estimate that 70-80 percent or more of veterans from this area are enrolled in VA health care for the VA prescription program. They are required to obtain low cost VA prescription drugs. Currently that cost is $7 per 30 days supply, usually shipped in 90-day supplies. Obviously that is a great deal below over the counter prices for prescription drugs that many senior veterans would have to pay.
Colorado Rep. Scott McInnis advised me in December he had voted for the increased VA budget. More significantly he also said he plans to introduce legislation that would allow many of the rural veterans in our district who are isolated from local VA facilities to receive primary medical care closer to home on a contract basis.
This could be a very important step for the veterans from our rural location. It makes sense. Veterans from our area have to travel to as many as five different VA health care facilities at a distance of 530 miles for their VAHC appointments. Most would prefer to see local doctors and still receive the VA benefits of cost.
I advised Rep. McInnis there is already a precedent for such a contract program through the "Health Center of Northern New Mexico." This special VA contract allows veterans to receive their health care at nearby small, rural community health clinics in Northern New Mexico. For Archuleta County veterans I call this the "Chama connection" because some of our veterans are traveling to the Chama Community Clinic for their VA health care.
I have had discussions with the Upper San Juan Health Services District personnel in this regard. They agree it would benefit all concerned, with more use of our local medical facilities and less burden on the veteran. Wouldn't it be nice to go to our local medical clinics and receive the VA health care benefits instead of traveling to such far distances?
I never could understand why the VA insists on maintaining its own facilities, sometimes next door to general medical facilities, offering many duplicate services. Maybe someone is waking up and raising the same question.
For information on these and other veterans benefits please call or stop by the Veterans Service Office located on the lower floor of the county courthouse next to the Colorado Driver's License office. The office number is 264-8375, the fax number is 264-8376, and e-mail is afautheree@ archuletacounty.org. The office is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, Friday by appointment. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for registration with the county, application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.
Club plans activities for variety of interests
By Tess Noel Baker
"A river ran through it."
"We now own lakefront property."
"Waded a river to find enough dust inside to build sand castles."
"Tent collapsed but salvageable."
"Tent down, everything wet and unusable - it's a motel for us."
These are the "tent reports" outlined in one article by Steve Ferguson found in the December issue of the San Juan Outdoor Club newsletter. The tents, apparently, were a little worse for wear after a 15-minute storm hit a group of 10 club members camping and four-wheeling near Moab in October. The storm was followed by a night of winds and the loss - tragically - of one tent. (The one owned by those who fled for warm beds and running water nonetheless.)
Still, the report at the end of the weekend was unanimous: "Such a great time was had that we all agreed we would return to Moab." Here's a group who knows about finding the silver lining in some pretty nasty clouds.
Pagosa's San Juan Outdoor Club, founded in late 1994 or early 1995, is "devoted to the providing of outdoor opportunities for its members, such as backpacking, hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, etc., and any related education and training."
Throw in some community projects and a quarterly potluck and the recipe is just right.
That's what many of the members - totaling 103 if everyone is in town at once - think anyway.
"It's a fun, fun group," past president Dalas Weisz said. "The most enjoyable is the people who live here in Pagosa and the variety."
Paula Bain, who joined the group just a year ago and was recently elected vice president, said the outdoor club seemed like a natural fit.
"Living here is just a dream come true," she said. "When I get to see these beautiful secluded places, waterfalls, the Continental Divide, I feel very, very lucky." It's a feeling, she said, many of the group seem to share, adding a social element to outings. Toss in the potlucks and other gatherings and it's like a family - dubbed the "San Juan Eating Club" at times.
"They continue to expand their outdoor activities to incorporate such things as planned trips, jeeping, four-wheel driving, biking, a bowling team and so they've continued to expand the number of activities which people find enjoyable which primarily are outdoor activities with a few indoor activities included," John Nelson said.
Take a list of upcoming events found in their June 2003 newsletter. The list started with an Adopt-a-Highway trash pick up and a house-to-house hike which encourages members to set up 5-mile walking tracks in their home neighborhoods, with one couple's home picked as the turnaround point and healthy snack stop. Then came an opportunity for a hike on the Rainbow Trail and two days of river rafting on the Arkansas. The end of the month called for as many as 15 teams from the club to participate in the Relay for Life annual fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society. Their goal in 2003 was to raise $1,500 for that organization.
The end of the month featured a four-wheeling trip to start out of Ouray. In the winter, activities change to cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Each program is led by different club members. The Moab camping trip mentioned at the start drew 10 hardy souls. Miniature golf drew 32. Cross country skiing 20 or more sometimes. It's a mix of those with experience giving lessons to those new to the roads.
Take the report of a Fall Color Mountain Bike Ride by Pam Morrow for instance:
"October 15, nine folks enjoyed the fall colors and a perfect day of sunshine to make their fall trip from the Piedra River to the Middle Fork of the Piedra, led by Pam Morrow and Jerry Ethelbah. Shirley and David Hunter, Ethelbah, Judy Clay, Charleen Stipe, Dan Cox, Gary and Pam Hopkins, and Morrow covered the glorious 16 miles of forest roads.
"Most 'pedal pushers' enjoyed lunch on the Middle Fork, ice cream at Sportsman Lodge and lots of conversation, along with a few bike repairs on the way. (Special thanks to Gary for a quick adjustment to Judy's bike.)
"Another perfect day for SJOC members' enjoyment of the great outdoors."
The diversity of activities marks the group's growth from a cross country ski club to an organization offering the gamut of outdoor recreation. Nelson said the group's founders included: Bill Sayer, Norm Vance, Gayle Tuggle, Lou Larson and Guiseppe Margiotta.
Their goal of a ski club didn't last long. By 1996, they were expanding activities and began a four-year run of grooming cross country ski trails in the San Juan Mountains. Grooming activities lasted until the donated snowmobiles they used all bit the dust. Now, that extra money goes toward scholarships, a program initiated in 1999. Membership has fluctuated. Nelson said in 1999, numbers ran about 150. It's a little lower than that now, but still over 100.
At the start of winter, the club organizes an annual ski and sports swap with proceeds going to fund high school scholarships.
Members of the San Juan Outdoor Club meet the first Thursday of every month in the Parish Hall on Lewis Street. Meetings begin with a social hour at 6:30 p.m. A special program or potluck follows. Annual membership dues are $20 for families and $15 for singles. Checks should be made payable to SJOC at P.O. Box 3856, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.
The January meeting is set for tonight. The program will feature a 1932 comedy ski film. Information and sign-ups for January events include a moonlight cross-country snowshoe outing, a tour of the House of Muskets and dinner, a gentle ski tour of the Wolf Creek Ski Area, cross-country ski lessons, and a cross-country outing.
"We welcome anyone to come as a visitor," Weisz said. "We even have hors d'oeuvres." And maybe one or two campfire stories to tell.
Pinkertons prominent in early
San Juans cattle ranching
John M. Motter
We've been reviewing stories about some of the first cattlemen in the San Juan Basin. We've talked about C.E. Hampton, T.J. McCluer, and others.
In his memoirs, Hampton said he "followed the tracks of some freight wagons that Tim Burns had sent into the Animas Valley from Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, with supplies for Frank Trimble, located at Trimble Springs."
Anyone traveling north on U.S. 550 from Durango in the direction of Silverton is bound to spot a sign a few miles north of Durango pointing the driver's attention to the fact that said vehicle with all of its occupants is now passing Trimble Springs.
What is not obvious from the sign is that once upon a time, Trimble Springs was a destination in itself, a hot spring and a resort of some renown, not to mention a stage stop for weary travelers bouncing along between Silverton and Durango.
Another early day landmark was Pinkerton Springs, settled by James Harvey Pinkerton. Pinkerton family treks across the west are most remarkable.
With his wife and two children, James Pinkerton left Illinois in 1859, settling in Arapahoe, a little mining camp that later became Denver. By 1869, they were driving 125 head of shorthorn cattle from Cache La Poudre to California by way of Laramie, Wyoming, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
The cattle were shoed to keep them from getting foot sore. Cattle wore two shoes on each hoof, cut from sole leather. Oxen were shoed with iron shoes.
After a six-month trip, the family wintered near Los Angeles, sold their cattle near Santa Barbara, caught a boat to San Francisco, rode a train back to Greeley, Colorado.
After founding a colony at Evans, Colorado in 1871-1872, the Pinkertons traveled by way of Del Norte, Antelope Springs (Wagon Wheel Gap), and Grassy Park Hill (Stoney Pass) to Howardsville, a mining community on the Animas River just above Silverton. The trip took 22 days. They arrived at Howardsville June 21, 1875, driving 30 head of dairy cattle.
Later that summer, James Pinkerton claimed a 160-acre homestead downstream just below Baker's Bridge. Baker was the leader of the party which first discovered gold in the San Juans in 1860.
In the fall of 1875, Pinkerton went out to get his family, returning by way of Ojo Caliente and Tierra Amarilla in New Mexico and the Pagosa Springs area. Of course, there was no one living at Pagosa Springs at that time. Pinkertons claimed to be the fifth family to settle in the Animas Valley, preceded only by the Lambert, Aspaas, Roberts and Webb families.
La Plata County was organized June 12, 1876 (from Conejos County). At first it included what later became La Plata, San Juan, and Montezuma counties. Parrot City was the county seat and James H. Pinkerton was the first county judge.
Game was plentiful, according to Pinkerton, and the first winter Pinkerton boys trapped 23 red foxes, one silver-grey fox, one bobcat, one lynx, one marten and two wolverines.
In 1877, Nellie Pinkerton, a daughter, eloped with Frank Williams and was married by a justice of the peace named Dunham at Pine River, near today's Bayfield. A few settlers were reported living in that area at the time.
In August of 1880, Chief Ouray and 20 of his Utes stopped at the Pinkerton Ranch for two days. Mrs. Pinkerton tried to care for the sick chief. He returned to Ignacio where he soon died.
One of the Pinkerton sons recalled the appearance of "Old Animas City" in 1875, before either Pagosa Springs or Durango were even a dream. Old Animas City contained the log cabins built by the Baker party in 1860-61, probably the first cabins in the San Juans. The cabins were deserted when the Civil War erupted and the miners returned east to fight. Many of the logs from the Baker Party cabins were used by later settlers in the construction of new cabins.
The Pinkertons moved to Florida in 1884, but returned to the San Juans years later for a pioneer reunion.
Included among Charlie Pinkerton's memories - he was a son of James - are the following items:
- He remembered seeing soldiers at Fort Lewis in Pagosa Springs in 1877, but does not remember the log fort
- He remembered seeing soldiers camped where Mercy Hospital is now located in Durango
- He also saw a military encampment on Rio La Plata in 1879 a few miles below the ultimate location of Fort Lewis.
And finally, we return to our story of early cattle ranching in the San Juans.
In 1879, Charlie Pinkerton was employed as a cowboy on the range of John Reid and knew that part of the country well. Fort Lewis, when it was near Hesperus, was located on land that had been John Reid rangeland.
Prior to 1880, Reid's cattle numbered 14,000 head. Reid was owner of The Southwest, a weekly newspaper edited and published by Eugene Engley at Animas City (the new Animas City), and owned a hotel and livery barn in Durango. He also served two terms each as La Plata County clerk and La Plata County treasurer.
According to Pinkerton, "We were branding on the John Reid ranch, right where the Fort Lewis buildings are now standing. There had been a general roundup. The way it was done - the cowboys cut out each cattleman's cows and calves and drove them into the corral where the calves were branded. I was looking out for Reids'; several of the boys were branding, Billy Wilson and I were cutting; we were just changing from one bunch to another when Hank Sharp, who worked for Wilson as a cowhand, came out drunk. He got off his horse to help brand but was just in the way. There were two Ute Indians sitting on their horses with one arm leaning on the corral fence, not doing anything but watching and enjoying the fun. In an ugly mood, Hank shot at them; the Indians immediately left. Every instance that I personally know of, trouble with Indians was always started by the whites, and this was a typical example."
Information used in this article concerning the Pinkertons was taken from "Pioneers of the San Juan Country, Volume II."
More next week on early day cattle ranching in the San Juan Basin.
Surviving the storm
The topic won't go away; talk is still in the air as the next session of the Colorado Legislature looms on the horizon. With a race for governor coming in two years, if the problem remains unsolved, or at least unmitigated to a reasonable degree, it could have significant bearing come Election Day.
Let's label the problem Colorado's "perfect fiscal storm."
That is what State Treasurer Mike Coffman calls the situation, mimicking others who have used the term - including Rep. Mark Larson and Sen. Jim Isgar.
The storm consists of three clouds, each packing a wallop, that combine to create a potential monster.
The only way to avert the worst effects of the storm is to find a solution, or solutions, to take to the voters. It will be difficult to do.
The problem is caused by the interaction of the Taxpayers Bill of rights, Amendment 23 and the Gallagher Amendment.
TABOR limits revenue growth and it restricts spending increases following a recession; Amendment 23 makes increases in public school funding mandatory; the Gallagher Amendment puts a percentage limit on residential property tax. Since voters have basically said Gallagher is off limits, that leaves TABOR and Amendment 23 open to change.
TABOR links revenue to growth and to inflation, providing a formula that determines at what point excess revenue must be refunded to taxpayers. If the state's revenues decline, the state can rebound to previous spending levels only incrementally - the so-called "ratchet effect" of the amendment.
Amendment 23 mandates increases in K-12 funding based on total student enrollment and the inflation rate plus 1 percent (until 2010, to recoup losses suffered in the 90s).
We are handcuffed by one amendment that limits spending and another that demands an increase in spending. One is favored by conservatives, the other by those of liberal bent.
Coffman, obviously headed toward a race for governor, proposes a plan to adjust TABOR by establishing a "rainy day fund" he says can alleviate some budget problems. Coffman would use the fund to allow a return to previous spending limits after a recession. He would provide money for the rainy day fund by emptying the state education fund, with TABOR reserves and with one-time settlement of tobacco funds. He would also change TABOR by requiring any special new tax credits be approved by the voters.
Coffman also proposes changes to Amendment 23, with the mandated increase tied to student population and the inflation rate.
No doubt, howls will be heard issuing from many parts of the political spectrum, but at least Coffman has put bets on the table.
As Rep. Larson notes in his column printed this week, there are many other ideas floating in the heady legislative atmosphere. Perhaps enough ideas that Larson's concept of a constitutional convention might be an answer.
Whatever the manner chosen to make changes, they must be made.
We need to alter TABOR while retaining voter approval for all tax increases and we should continue to limit size of government with spending tied to our overall economic productivity. We need to get rid of the ratchet effect, and create a rainy day fund. TABOR works fine when times are good. When times are not so good, short-term budget cuts can easily become permanent; our ability to save for more dire times is curtailed and, when the economy begins to improve, services cannot keep pace with the rate of growth.
We have to trim back mandated increases in education spending.
Both amendments must be retooled.
The changes are key to surviving the fiscal storm. The changes must occur soon.
Some niggling problems linger
By Richard Walter
A new year begins today but some of the same old problems will continue as it develops.
I'm not talking about the big woes like world peace, Mad Cow Disease or the Christmas package shipped Dec. 12 that never arrived.
No, my focus is on the more mundane.
For instance, what do you do when you see a suspicious vehicle or an off-road incident as you travel our beautiful state? Who do you call? And where do you call from if you don't carry a cell phone?
This was brought home to me during a recent trip to the Front Range passing through some comparatively desolate areas and witnessing some unnerving highway manners by other drivers.
Sure, you can report them. But, to whom?
Sometimes you're not even sure what county you're in.
I think each county line sign in the state should carry on it the additional information: For emergencies, call (the phone number for the county's sheriff's office or the closest state police dispatch center).
Another problem I recently witnessed was a local water hauler draining his truck's huge tank in a downtown parking lot.
I'm not sure he knew it was draining, however, because he drove out of the lot and up Put Hill with the water spraying a slick cover all the way to the top. With the temperature hovering at the freezing mark, it had the potential to turn the entire highway into a sheet of ice.
And how about some of the traditions of Christmas which were surprisingly missing from the traditional venues this year?
I refer specifically to candy canes which many use as tree decorations, chocolate covered cherries which have long been a holiday favorite, and chocolate orange sticks, another traditional yule treat.
None of the three were available in any of the downtown stores I visited, though they were found in Pagosa Country Center facilities.
One long-standing problem which seems to be magnified at Christmas time and which was in great evidence throughout Pagosa Country in the week before the holiday was the proliferation of empty beer and liquor bottles and cans tossed along the roadways, in the parks and into just about every possible location.
Why, I wonder, if these people must drink and drive, do they also have to deface the roadways with the remnants of their celebration? One answer, obviously, is that they don't want anyone at home to know what they were doing by leaving telltale signs in the car.
Another is that they simply don't care.
And, possibly, it is a statement of lack of respect for their fellow Pagosans. I hope the latter is not true.
Still another niggling occurrence happened recently. The garbage container was set out on the assigned day - a foot off the pavement as designated.
The on-the-job snow plow passed by a little too close to the edge of the road and clipped the container, tipping it backward and dumping the contents on the ground. Did the driver stop? Was the container set back up and the contents returned?
No! Oh well, at least the street was plowed.
90 years ago
Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era files of Jan. 2, 1914
Let us have the kind of reform in 1914 that cuts out petty politics and builds up a better understanding among the people of Archuleta County.
Dr. Greene has rented the vacant store room in the Archuleta Building and will move his drug store into it as soon as possible.
Mr. French, the new supervisor of the San Juan forest reserve, comes here from Nebraska, where the only forests are those planted by the government on the plains in the western part of the state. Previous to that, however, he had four years experience on the reserves of Wyoming and is acquainted with conditions similar to those on the San Juan reserve.
The new year looks more promising than 1913 was.
75 years ago
Taken from SUN files of Jan. 4, 1929
Fire, which started last night about 8:30 in the boiler room of the New Light & Power plant, located one mile south of Pagosa Springs, destroyed the entire plant, with the possible exception of the turbine. The loss is estimated at $15,000 with $11,000 insurance. Efforts are being made to obtain a steam plant and dynamos from the Fort Lewis school, and it is hoped that service can be resumed within a week or ten days. In the meantime, the town is entirely without lights or electric power, thus affecting almost every home, business house and industry in the city. The Sun was unable to print last night as scheduled, and the publication of this issue by hand power has been an effort.
50 years ago
Taken from SUN files of Jan. 1, 1954
The Harold Radcliff ranch home near Dyke was completely destroyed by fire of unknown origin on Christmas Day with only the rock walls and one chimney left standing. The Dyke place was the showplace of the county when the house was built and was one of the finest residences in Archuleta County. The house was built by Bill Dyke shortly after 1900 and was the center of the Dyke community. This community at one time was the livestock shipping point on the narrow gauge railway and the center of considerable lumbering industries. The fire was not only a great loss to the Radcliffs but to the entire county, for it had been for many years one of the better known landmarks. Nearly all old-timers were familiar with the house.
25 years ago
Taken from SUN files of Jan. 4, 1979
December snowfall on Wolf Creek Pass set a record this winter, with a total fall of 201 inches reported. The total snowfall on Wolf Creek to date this winter is ahead of any other winter at the same date in the past 20 years and now stands at 348-1/2 inches. If this rate of snowfall continues the rest of the winter season this will be a record year.
Business at Wolf Creek Ski Area was brisk over the holidays with about 8,000 skiers during the week. Snow depth at midway early this week was 107 inches. Local business establishments that deal with skiers, report that business was good and that skiers were well pleased with the skiing at Wolf Creek.