December 15, 2005
Front Page

Residents of Lost Valley:

Don't drink the water!

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

Residents of the Lost Valley of the San Juans subdivision have been advised to use bottled water until further notice. Meanwhile, the Mineral County Board of County Commissioners has ordered an immediate moratorium on the issuance of building permits there, until both the existing central drinking water and wastewater treatment systems are properly licensed, operating and monitored according to state standards.

Lost Valley of the San Juans (LVSJ) totals about 160 acres, and is located in Mineral County roughly 12 miles north of Pagosa Springs. Its only vehicular access is up Archuleta County Road 400 (Fourmile Rd.) and Forest Road 634.

The subdivision contains approximately 79 lots, an estimated 25 of which are currently improved with homes connected to the central drinking water system. Of the two subdivision phases, only lots in Phase 2 are connected to the central wastewater system, while those in Phase 1 utilize personal septic systems. All told, LVSJ has four wells, two small water reservoirs, and a sewer system with a lift station and two aeration lagoons.

Both the bottled water advisory and building permit moratorium stemmed from a "complaint investigation" conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment-Water Quality Control Division, Durango District Office (Division) Oct. 14, 2005.

The resulting advisory was ordered by the division in a letter dated Oct. 19 and addressed to Colorado Land Sales, Inc., the entity apparently responsible for operating and maintaining the entire LVSJ infrastructure.

Acting on the division inspection report dated Nov. 16, the Mineral County commission, at its regular monthly meeting Dec. 5, ordered its county Land Use Administrator to "cease and desist from issuing any building permits that could or would increase and create new human habitation in Lost Valley of the San Juans."

The division initiated its investigation after LVSJ resident and property owner Tim Kelly expressed concern over water quality there. As a geologist/hydrologist with experience in water resources, supply and the environment, and a Mineral County representative for the Southwest Water Conservation District, Kelly said he became concerned while discovering a "trickle of water running along the ground near one of the sewage lagoons.

"I thought the lagoon might be leaking, so I gathered a sample of the trickle and took it to a lab for testing," Kelly said. "It came back showing both coliform and E-coli."

Gregory Brand, District Engineer for the Division, performed the Oct. 14 inspection, and in his report identified a total of 13 violations, concerns and recommendations regarding the water and wastewater systems. Colorado Land Sales, Inc. has until Dec. 20 to provide the division with written responses to each of the issues noted, including courses of action that have, or will be, taken to bring the facility into compliance.

Among the violations, Brand listed a lack of required certified operators in charge of each system, inadequate filtration and disinfection of raw water sources (wells), a lack of required aeration equipment at the treatment lagoons, and no required Colorado Domestic Wastewater Discharge Permit.

Division concerns included a need to flush and sanitize the drinking water system, the unacceptable overgrowth of weeds and brush around the wastewater lagoons, the poor condition of a fence required for limiting uncontrolled access into the lagoon area, and confusion over who, or what organization, should take responsibility for proper operations, maintenance, monitoring and reporting of the systems in accordance with applicable Colorado regulations and permits.

Also part of Brand's inspection, a bacteriological water sample was taken from inside Kelly's residence and transported to the San Juan Basin Health Department in Durango for analysis. Test results indicated, "an unsafe sample, with total coliform present and E-coli bacteria present." Consequently, the division has concluded that no further service connections be made to either the central drinking water system or the wastewater system until compliance with application regulations, orders and permits has been achieved.

Meanwhile, at its Southeast Regional Office in Pueblo, the division located a historical file on LVSJ and, upon review, found that Potable Water Supply Plans and Specifications were apparently submitted to the division office in Denver in 1991 or early 1992. An approval letter was issued by that same office in April 1992, but Brand said, "It is unlikely that the current condition of the system meets what was reviewed and approved. At the time of inspection, there was no operations, maintenance, monitoring or reporting occurring. There was no certified operator."

The historical file also suggests that plans and specifications for an 18,000-gallon-per-day aerated lagoon percolation field were submitted and approved in July 1979, but at the time of the inspection, Brand said there was no aeration equipment at the lagoons.

According to the division, Colorado Land Sales, Inc. owns, controls and is responsible for the water and wastewater systems at LVSJ, and its registered agent is David Trepas. Trepas has apparently been in charge of the corporation since 2001, when he and other investors bought it from Burt Barrett, the original developer.

However, in an e-mail response to questions posed to Mr. Trepas, acting CLSI secretary/treasurer Derral Hineman said that Trepas resigned earlier this year for personal reasons, and is no longer affiliated with CLSI. Hineman suggested any further correspondence be directed to him.

Also in his e-mail, Hineman explained that CLSI was in liquidation after the financial institution funding its assets and improvements collapsed following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He said the corporation sold its last land asset in 2004, and its water rights and related infrastructure have been listed for sale for some time.

He went on to say that since 2001, "CLSI has acted solely as a holding entity with no formal business activity. Its management is of a voluntary nature until a landowners' association is formed and takes over the infrastructure, as called for in the original covenants." He added, "CLSI has urged LVSJ landowners to form an association for four years, yet to date, none exists." However, a majority of residents have now voted to form such an association, though it isn't yet official.

Hineman has said CLSI acts as a "private service for area residents" and bears no liability in respect to operating or maintaining LVSJ infrastructure. Yet, CLSI management has billed residents for land access maintenance fees and the use of water and sewer systems since its corporate takeover in 2001, and has actively assumed responsibility for system maintenance and repairs since. Further, according to the local Multiple Listing Service, the LVSJ infrastructure is currently for sale, with CLSI listed as owner.

Regardless of ownership or ongoing responsibility, immediate repairs and upgrades are necessary and required, if residents of the Lost Valley of the San Juans are to have safe drinking water and adequate wastewater treatment facilities. And, according to CLSI and at least a few residents, some positive changes are now being made, and others will follow, as spring weather allows. Of course, the improvements carry significant costs, and who will pay is yet to be determined.


Village at Wolf Creek legal wranglings continue

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

A new chapter in the legal wranglings between the developers of the Village at Wolf Creek and the Wolf Creek Ski Corporation is unfolding following a number of recent rulings by a Durango magistrate.

The Dec. 1 rulings, issued by Federal Magistrate David L. West, stem from disagreements, claims and counterclaims between the village developer, Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture, and the Wolf Creek Ski Corporation regarding a series of contracts forged between the two entities in 1999.

In May 2004, as a result of those disagreements, the ski corporation asked the Colorado courts to clarify the provisions and obligations of the contracts.

Village developers in turn, sued the ski area for damages, they say, are linked largely to a road the ski area was bound to construct, according to the terms of one of the 1999 contracts, but failed to build.

According to a press release issued by village attorneys, Moriarty Leyendecker, the ski corporation had asked the court to issue a summary judgement on the road issue, but as part of Magistrate West's rulings, he recommended the road issue and the question of whether the ski corporation should be held liable for damages should be decided by a jury.

As part of West's ruling, he recommended dismissal of the developer's claim that the ski corporation had breached their fiduciary duties to the developers.

In other related rulings, West recommended denying the developer's motion to bring father and son owners of the ski area, Kingsbury and Davey Pitcher, respectively, into the lawsuit, and not to honor the village attorney's request to extend the discovery, or fact finding period.

Ultimately, Magistrate West's recommendations will go to U.S. District Judge John L. Kane, who is presiding over the lawsuit, for approval or denial.

Following West's recommendations, both sides claimed measures of victory.

In the press release, the lead attorney for the Village at Wolf Creek, James Moriarty, said, "We are pleased that Judge West has recommended that we be allowed to proceed with our damage claims."

Moriarty said the ski corporation's efforts to thwart the project had cost the developer millions.

He said the ski corporation had created real problems for the developers and now the lawsuit to collect damages presented real problems to the ski corporation.

"This is not a minor lawsuit, this is not minor harm," Moriarty said.

Moriarty said the developer's damage claims could easily exceed $11 million.

A written statement from ski corporation attorney Andy Spielman chalked up West's recommendation to deny the village the ability to sue Kingsbury and Davey Pitcher personally as a key victory.

"Last week was but another setback for the McComb's development team's set of aggressive attempts to make the Pitchers and the ski area liable for the flaws in the developer's own project. The magistrate judge recommended that the developers could not pursue the Pitchers personally, could not assert new damage claims and instead moved the case one step closer to trial at the request of the ski area."

Phase one of the controversial project, located in Alberta Park near the base of the Wolf Creek Ski Area, calls for 24,000 square feet of hotel commercial space, 135,000 square feet of non-hotel commercial and restaurant space, 161 multi-family units, 160 hotel units and 140 mixed-use units.

Full buildout would include 2,200 residential units, more than 500,000 square feet of commercial space and as many as 10,000 inhabitants.

In other Village news: On Dec. 9, the United States Army Corps of Engineers approved the development's wetlands delineation map.

In a press release issued by the developer, the approval is said to mark a milestone in the project and the wetlands map is critical as a planning tool.


Developers will present plan to town

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

A group of Florida developers with plans to build a high density residential and commercial project south of Pagosa Springs will present their initial plans to the town's planning commission at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20.

According to Town Planner Tamra Allen, the project, slated to be built on a 96-acre parcel on the east side of U.S. 84 just south of the Archuleta County Fairgrounds, would include: 67 single family lots on 17 acres; 60 multi-family lots on 18 acres; 17 commercial use lots on 17 acres and 25 acres of open space.

Allen said, at this stage, the developer had not defined what "multi-family" means.

Allen said the plans indicate the development would be governed by strict codes and covenants, and incorporated design criteria, the designation of building footprints and plans for footpaths along roads.

Although Allen said the project was touted by the developers as a mixed-use project, site plans indicate a traditional land-use approach with distinct areas designated for each type of use.

"All the single family use is off in one area, the multi-family in one area and commercial in another area," Allen said.

"This is a project that will have a huge impact on the town and the U.S. 84 corridor," Allen said.

One of the impacts, if the project is built as proposed Allen explained, would be the creation of another commercial center, which would change the commercial dynamics of the town.

Although the property is outside town boundaries, Allen said the site falls within the town's Comprehensive Plan planning area and that an intergovernmental agreement is being drafted between the town and Archuleta County which gives the town's planning commission oversight and approval powers for the project. Ultimately, when the property is eligible, Allen said, it would be annexed by the town.

Next Tuesday's presentation is part of the sketch plan review process. A sketch plan review is the first of many steps a developer must take before receiving final approval for their project. Town Manager Mark Garcia said, "There is no approval or denial associated with the review. It's a fact-finding and comment session."


 Inside The Sun

Improvements underway at fairgrounds

By John Middendorf

Staff Writer

In a process that has taken years to come to fruition, the Archuleta County Fairgrounds will finally have bathrooms, an indoor livestock arena with meeting rooms and sheltered livestock stalls, creating a bona-fide, year-round facility.

Years ago, Pagosa Springs Enterprises, Inc., which owns most of the land at the fairgrounds, struck a deal with Archuleta County to contribute about four acres of land to the county in exchange for the installation of bathrooms and a sewer line extension. Part of the deal, according to Pagosa Springs Enterprises representative, J.R. Ford, included a county promise to keep the fairgrounds at its present location. In exchange, the firm would have a 90-year lease on the premises for $10 per year, with the county responsible for normal maintenance and insurance.

The current construction project is expected to cost around $270,000. The county has obtained a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) matching funds grant to assist with the construction of the bathrooms. A condition of the grant is that the county own the property under the new building.

Additional funding for the project has come from contributions to the tune of $115,000 from "locals and second homers," according to Ford. The county donated $10,000, and about $11,000 was raised by the Archuleta County 4-H group, which auctioned off slices of cake for $600 per slice at the county fair, said Ford. Buyers had the option to eat the cake, or smear the gooey cake on Ford's face. Several buyers choose the latter.

Ford, who was instrumental in the process, credits Regan Robb, former Archuleta County administrative intern, with hammering out the final details of the project, including the GOCO grant application.

"It took a long time to get the timing for everything right," said Ford, speaking of the three sources of funding (GOCO, county and private), the county's approval, and the bonding of the new structures.

In addition to the bathrooms, more improvements are planned.

"We're hoping to get this done and next year build an indoor riding arena," said Ford.

Ford said the county considered moving the fairgrounds to another location years ago, but he and others wanted to keep fairgrounds and its events at the present location because of it's historical importance.

The fairgrounds hosts a number of events every year, including the annual Red Ryder Rodeo.

"The county's known more for the Red Ryder Rodeo than anything else," said Ford.


New preschool to open in January

By Marianne Calvanese

Special to The SUN

As many parents with children on preschool waiting lists know, there is a very real need for high quality preschool and child care for young children in Pagosa Springs.

A new, exciting preschool option is opening soon in Pagosa. The Pagosa Waldorf Initiative has been a two-year labor of love by many local passionate parents and educators. The Treasure Mountain Early Life Center, sponsored by the Pagosa Waldorf Initiative, will open its doors almost full to capacity on Jan. 3, 2006. The program will serve children ages 3-6 years old with a five-day per week, morning program. There are part-time and full-time openings still available.

There are now more than 600 Waldorf schools worldwide including approximately 125 in North America - each completely independent, guided by its teachers and supported by parents. All Waldorf schools, however, share a common educational philosophy that strives to engage and nourish each child's innate interests, creativity and love for learning. The Waldorf approach recognizes that children have distinct, age-related educational and emotional needs according to their naturally unfolding stages of development. To meet these needs, the Waldorf curriculum carefully balances academic, artistic and practical activities to prepare the child as thoroughly as possible for all life experiences. Waldorf schooling also focuses upon nurturing the child's self confidence and self reliance, while fostering his or her personal integrity and sense of social and environmental responsibility.

For more information or registration, call Kerri at the Treasure Mountain Early Life Center at 731-5437.


School board passes on discussion of junior high incident

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

The Archuleta School District 50 Joint Board of Education met Tuesday, Dec. 13, at the junior high school in Pagosa Springs and, as usual, covered a variety of topics. But an issue of particular interest to at least two attending parents, an item not on the meeting agenda, failed to gain board attention.

Early in Tuesday's meeting, following the work session and approval of minutes for two previous meetings, board president Mike Haynes noted that, while no "audience" issues had been placed on the agenda, it would be the appropriate time to entertain discussions raised by audience members.

With that, a couple, who identified themselves as, "the parents of the kid who was stabbed," stood and asked if the board had any specific policy or protocol regarding emergency situations. Haynes promptly suggested they call school superintendent Duane Noggle "in the morning," and discuss the subject with him. Noggle was at the meeting, and quickly offered his business card.

The alleged incident the parents referred to occurred Monday, Nov. 28, toward the end of an art class at the Pagosa Springs Junior High School. According to a police report, a juvenile victim sustained a 1/4-inch stab wound to his arm and a suspect, also a juvenile, was later taken into custody.

Following the incident, the art teacher sent the victim to the school nurse, where he was treated before going home at day's end. Meanwhile, the victim's parents expressed anger upon learning they and police were not called immediately.

It's unclear when school principal Chris Hinger was first notified of the alleged assault, but Noggle said the principal "followed appropriate protocol." He said once an incident is determined not to be life threatening, the protocol is to then question witnesses.

However, a school policy regarding violent and aggressive behavior, states that "Acts of violence and aggression shall be well documented and communicated by the staff to the building principal and the superintendent." It goes on to say, "The immediate involvement of the parents/guardians is also essential. Law enforcement officials shall be involved if there is any violation of law."

By press time, The SUN could not determine if the parents obtained a satisfactory response to the concerns they expressed at the board meeting.


Health district anticipates positive cash balance

By John Middendorf

Staff Writer

"I like to look at it like a house. First you establish a foundation, and every foundation is different. For this house, the foundation was the financial aspect," said Rick O'Block, of Mercy Management, during the financial review of the Upper San Juan Health Service District at Tuesday's monthly district board meeting.

The district is expected to end the year with a positive cash balance of $167,000. Pam Hopkins, district chair, said it was a first for the district. Dave Bohl, chairman of the finance committee, called it "stupendous."

"Now we need the floors and framing," said O'Block, referring to the upcoming preparation for the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) planned in Pagosa.

Board members referred to several upcoming "hurdles" to overcome as they continue to pursue the "fast track" in their plans to "design, fund, and launch" a new hospital in Pagosa, said Hopkins.

The first hurdle is the feasibility study from the accounting firm BKD, LLP. A feasibility study is a five-year forecast of the hospital's balance sheet and income statement. A critical component of the study will be the determination of the local "Medicare mix," the percentage of people on the federally-funded medical insurance program for people over 65.

Medicare offers a 101-percent cost-based reimbursement program for CAHs. The Medicare reimbursement for CAHs is generous compared to regional hospitals such as the Mercy Medical Center in Durango, which typically receives only 40 percent of its Medicare charges from Medicare, according to O'Block.

Hopkins noted that the "critical" in CAH was coined by Congress to define the critical need for rural health facilities (rather than the services a CAH provides), and thus reflects the generous federal funding programs.

O'Block also said that, despite the recent proposed Congressional cuts in Medicare funding, "it appears that there will be a seven percent (budget) increase in CAH reimbursement." The feasibility study is expected to be complete in late January.

The district board is also continuing its due diligence work on the architecture firm, Prochaska and Associates, and the construction firm, GE Johnson. All reports concerning the two firms have been overwhelmingly positive, said Neal Townsend, who heads the construction manager/architect-engineer teams committee. The board often refers to two Critical Access Hospitals similar in scope to the one planned in Pagosa: the Rio Grand Hospital in Del Norte, and the Estes Park Medical Center. Several aspects, such as the consultants and construction firms, are common to the district's CAH plan.

If all goes well, the district is planning to break ground on the new hospital this summer. One of the necessary steps is to get public approval for the project. In May, the district intends to hold a special election for the voters to approve a bond issue to fund the building of the CAH. The repayment of the bond will be secured by the revenues from the CAH, and will not be tied to the mill levy or other assets of the district, according to Hopkins.

J.R. Ford, who is on several committees for the district, said the only assets encumbered by the bond would be the future hospital itself, the land underneath it and an adjacent parking area.

The board is planning to hire the legal firm Sherman and Howard, LLC to write the language of the ballot issue, considered critical by the board to clarify to voters that the bond issue will not involve an increase in taxes.

Bob Goodman, board member, said "I don't see any possibility of failure," but Bohl said, "Too many people don't vote logically."

Michelle Visel, chair of the fund-raising committee, said members are "pumped up and ready to go" with a $1 million fund-raising goal for the CAH, expected to publicly begin after the ballot issue in May. Ford said he feels confident they could raise $500,000 from "four or five families" in Pagosa.

In other district news:

- The board swore in a new board member, Kitzel Farrah. Director Jim Pruitt said Farrah is a well-respected member of the community and said he believes her recognition can help with future fund-raising. He also said Farrah's recent experience in expanding her veterinary practice to a 4,500 square-foot facility with 15 employees will be an invaluable asset to the district when it creates its long-term business plan.

€Brett Murphy, EMS manager, has been fulfilling his promise to work closely with the community. In addition to teaming up with Operation Helping Hand and ALCO to provide $800 in cash and $1,200 in toys, non-perishable food and clothing for the less fortunate families in Pagosa, the EMS department will provide free transportation for indigent and disabled citizens who would otherwise not be able to spend Christmas with their families. Requests for transportation for the "I'll be home for Christmas" program need to be received prior to noon, Dec. 19.

€The EMS department has also set up an avian flu committee, which is working with the San Juan Basin Health Department, local law enforcement agencies and local providers to create a contingency plan if the flu becomes a pandemic.

€The district extended its management contract with Mercy Management for three months. The board expects to negotiate a long-term management contract in January.

€The district approved its 2006 mill levy and projected budget.


Guadalupe Fiesta set for Sunday in Arboles

The St. Peter/St. Rosa Guadalupe Fiesta will be Sunday, Dec. 18 at the St. Peter/St. Rosa Church in Arboles.

Mass will be at noon, with dinner immediately following mass: roast beef, roast pork, mashed potatoes, corn, salad, homemade bread and desserts. Cost is a donation. There will also be a raffle and silent auction.

Visit with friends and have a joyous time.

For more information, contact Cindy Valdez, 883-2452 or 769-3746.

Pagosans make Front Range crime news

By John Middendorf

Staff Writer

Two local Pagosa Springs residents made the news this week, with evening TV news coverage and stories in several Denver newspapers.

Greg Jewell, 26, and Angela Lucero, 26, were arrested in Weld County after attempting to elude Colorado State Patrol troopers and local police in a three-county car chase last Saturday.

According to the Pagosa Springs Police Department, Jewell and Lucero both have Pagosa addresses. Jewell has been a suspect in local police cases dating back to 1998, and Lucero has been a suspect dating back to 2002.

The car chase began at around 1 p.m. Saturday when the Colorado State Patrol was called about a black Ford Focus, later determined to be stolen, ramming into other cars on Interstate 25. The vehicle was pulled over by CSP, but then sped off on Colo. 7 as the trooper was getting out of his car. In pursuit, the trooper eventually forced the Focus to a stop by colliding with the vehicle. As Lucero exited the vehicle, Jewell sped off again, knocking Lucero over. The uninjured Lucero was then arrested.

Jewell then allegedly abandoned the Ford Focus, stole a Chevy pick-up truck, and returned to the site where he had abandoned Lucero. He was arrested and was taken to Weld County Jail where he and Lucero are being held, facing multiple felony charges.


Patty Tillerson receives advocate award

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

Pagosa Springs' Patty Tillerson has received the Carol Hacker Award for Outstanding Victim Advocate of 2005.

As one of 20 volunteer advocates nominated for the honor statewide, she is this year's recipient of the award presented by the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA).

According to COVA, "the Carol Hacker Award is named after an exceptional advocate who dedicated her life to assisting victims of violence. Ms. Hacker was instrumental in supporting survivors of both the Columbine tragedy and the Oklahoma City bombing trials." She was described as "remarkable" and "very dedicated," and "her life was filled with doing good things for people."

Each year COVA recognizes a Colorado volunteer advocate for exhibiting similar traits.

Following 30 hours of initial training, advocates attached to organizations like the Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program (ACVAP) work directly with those suffering from domestic violence, sexual assault, sudden mishap and loss (house fire, accidental or sudden death). They receive an additional six to 10 hours of continuing education annually, and assist with other community agencies and supportive organizations by sharing information, referrals, speakers and ventures in community education.

While meeting victims' basic needs and ensuring their rights under the law, advocates also provide: immediate crisis intervention (available 24 hours a day), court advocacy and assistance with civil restraining orders, emergency transportation (to a safehouse) and temporary shelter. Regardless of a victim's gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age or income, services are free and confidential. Program expenses can be significant, and are covered by grants, donations and other fund-raising efforts.

Approaching 80 years of age, Patty Tillerson has been a victim advocate with ACVAP for six years, and has donated over 13,000 hours to those in need. She regularly accepts on-call shifts (12 hours long), averaging three or four a week, and as a mentor, provides valuable guidance to new advocates as they accompany her on calls.

According to program director Carmen Hubbs, "Patty has gone above and beyond her call of duty in serving victims, always an advocate, even when her pager said she wasn't."

Tillerson retired from Baylor College of Medicine in 1987 and became a certified EMT. She was an active member of our local ambulance crew for 12 years, and served as board member for the local health district. She also served as a voluntary teacher's aide at the Elementary School, worked with Kiwanis benefiting local youth, and headed up the blood pressure station at the 9Health Fair for many years. To this day, she still provides free blood pressure checks at the Pagosa Springs senior center on a weekly basis.

On acceptance of the Carol Hacker Award, Tillerson said, "My service to the community through this organization (ACVAP) has been the most gratifying of any I have done. Why is this? Well, I believe it is because it provides an opportunity to 'be there' for folks in crises - opportunities that otherwise would not be available to me. Leaving a situation calmer and more hopeful than when I arrived is a wonderful 'thank you' in itself.

"This recognition, of course, is shared by all in our program. The professional leadership provided by Carmen Hubbs and Karen Hatfield train us well and they always are 'there for us' just as we are 'there' for those we are called to assist."

Tillerson's recently published book, entitled "Eternal Threads," was written under her maiden name "Patton," and "speaks to the purpose of life."



What is a conservation district?

By Heidi Keshet

Special to The SUN

In a previous article, we considered the San Juan Conservation District (SJCD) and its mission to conserve and protect our natural resources on local, non-federal lands. This article continues with the description of the district and some of its activities..

The SJCD is your voice in the community whenever you have conservation concerns. The district has a seven-member board of directors made up of local community members who share your concerns. The district has lobbying power at the state and national level to seek solutions to problems faced by the people of Archuleta, Hinsdale and Mineral counties. Current board members are R. D. Hott, John Taylor, Randy Eoff, Charlie King, Cynthia Sharp, George Martinez and me, Heidi Keshet.

Using our partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), we (district members) direct many of the NRCS conservation efforts here in southwest Colorado. Some of the SJCD's activities have included: the annual sale and distribution of tree and shrubs through Colorado's seedling program; annual grass seed sale; sponsoring youth and educator participation in natural resource workshops; sponsoring the sixth-grade Conservation Tour and Poster Contest; holding annual meetings that offer landowners valuable information on a variety of topics; sponsoring a conservation photo contest; and reviewing subdivision and gravel pit applications. The district also monitors the Stollsteimer Creek restoration project, which affects many Pagosa Lakes, Aspen Springs and westward community members.

Taylor was among 250 conservation leaders from all regions of Colorado gathered in Denver recently to set policies, discuss issues and honor outstanding members during the 61st annual meeting of the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts. Special sessions focused on specific resource issues such as tamarisk control, water, grazing, current USDA conservation programs and upcoming farm bills. Several policy issues on water, noxious weeds and other conservation issues were debated and adopted by convention delegates.

Among these issues were resolutions recommending:

- the emphasis of noxious weeds as a priority resource issue;

- support for the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission's regulation and permitting of storm water discharges from oil and gas operations that affect at least one acre of land;

- restriction of recreational in-channel diversion applications as necessary to preserve future water development in the affected river basins;

- support for allowing Conservation Reserve Program enrollees to sell their attached bases to the CCC under a 10-year contract after 2007 in return for grazing privileges; and

- development and implementation of federal and state programs that help meet Republican River Compact obligations and sustain agricultural livelihoods in the Republican River geographic region.

Delegates also went on record in support of funding for the Farm Bill Conservation Technician Program through NRCS. The technicians provide valuable assistance to local districts in carrying out farm bill programs.

And, as we all know, water is an important issue in Colorado. It's a good idea to become aware of what is going on in our state with water compacts as we in southwest Colorado will eventually feel the impact of any policy that is made on the Front Range. "Water flows toward money" is a well-known adage to keep in mind when debating policy.

A future article will include a brief bio-sketch of a board member and information about the Stollsteimer Creek Watershed project.

The SJCD is always looking for help and support from conservation — minded individuals. For more information on how to get involved with district activities, call 731-3615.


Wildlife conservation grants available

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) will make $200,000 in grants available for projects that conserve, restore, or enhance Colorado's threatened, endangered or special-concern wildlife resources.

Private and non-profit organizations, local government agencies, school districts, and state agencies outside of the Department of Natural Resources are among those eligible to apply for Colorado Wildlife Conservation Grant Program (CWCG) funds. The program is supported with federal State Wildlife Grant program funds.

All grants require a 50/50 match; the matching funds must be from non-federal government sources. In-kind services and volunteer time are eligible to be used for the match. The maximum grant amount is $50,000.

"This is the third round of CWCG grants we have made available" said Jim Guthrie, the DOW's program coordinator. "We have been pleased with the proposals that have come in the door in earlier rounds and the new partnerships that have been developed. CWCG projects have helped us get more work done on Colorado's wildlife resources."

Proposed projects should focus on species and habitat conservation, particularly for species determined to be in "greatest conservation need" as described in the state's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan. The plan can be found at the DOW Web site at

A small percentage of a project can support education projects closely tied to a species conservation effort.

Projects should also be consistent with the DOW's Strategic Plan. The four "High-Priority Achievements" in the strategic plan relevant to the grant program are:

- Habitat to support the broadest sustainable wildlife populations;

- Conservation partnerships with private landowners;

- Protect and enhance species at risk of becoming threatened or endangered;

- Implement recovery plans.

The Strategic Plan also can be viewed at the DOW Web site at: of possible projects include:

- On-the-ground habitat restoration or improvements;

- Aquatic and terrestrial habitat assessments and usage studies;

- Species population field surveys;

- Planning and design of habitat improvements;

- Native vegetation enhancement;

- Riparian corridor protection.

"In the first two years of the program, CWCG funds have supported nearly twenty separate projects across the state," Guthrie said. "The program has helped expand our knowledge of wildlife in the state, and improve local habitat conditions."

Grant proposals should be no more than four pages and should provide a thorough description of the project. Details should include the need, scope of work, species to benefit, partners, timeline, how the work will be accomplished and the name of the project leader. Project costs should also be described.

Program funds can be used to pay for project costs only. General operating costs of organizations are not eligible for grant awards. Private conservation groups are particularly encouraged to apply. Applications will be evaluated by a panel of DOW and outside experts.

The deadline for applications is Jan. 25, 2006; applicants will be notified in early March. Mail grant applications to: Jim Guthrie, Colorado Division of Wildlife, 6060 Broadway, Denver, CO 80216.

For more information, contact Guthrie at:

DOW seeks public's help to nab poachers

Deer and elk are moving into their winter range areas this time of year, making them more visible, more accessible and more vulnerable to illegal poaching activity. Throughout the state, Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) officers are receiving numerous poaching reports.

Poachers often take animals only for antlers, horns or other trophy parts.

Recently, in Durango, a large buck was killed in the city's cemetery. The poachers took only the head, leading officers to believe it was a large, antlered animal. Northeast of Grand Junction, poachers killed a pronghorn only for its head.

"Poaching is a problem throughout Colorado," said Rob Firth, Chief of Law Enforcement for the DOW.

While poaching occurs year around the problem increases during the late fall and early winter - especially for deer. From late November through December deer are engaged in their mating season. They may gather in bunches as they head toward winter range and do not always scatter as they normally do when they are approached.

"This is a critical time for deer and they don't have their guard up," said Pat Dorsey, DOW Area Wildlife Manager in the Durango area. "Unfortunately, there are some people who take advantage of the situation. Poachers steal from the public and we really need help from the public to catch poachers."

The DOW urges the public to report any suspicious activities that could be related to poaching. Indications of possible poaching activity include:

- Cars driving slowly in rural areas, especially early morning, late afternoon or after dark;

- One or more cars parked near an area where deer are known to gather;.

- People shining spotlights or flashlights or projecting their headlights into pastures and along roads;

- Cars that suddenly speed up when approached by vehicles traveling at normal speeds.

People should also be suspicious if they find headless carcasses or hear shots from firearms, particularly now that the regular hunting seasons are over. Do not approach anyone you suspect of illegal activity.

The public is urged to report any unusual activity to a local DOW office, to the Operation Game Thief Hotline at (877) 265-6648; or to any local law enforcement agency - including county sheriff, local police or Colorado State Patrol.

Reports to Operation Game Thief can be made anonymously. If a report leads to a conviction of a wildlife crime, the person who made the report could be eligible for a cash award or be awarded preference points for big game hunting.


Catch and Release

Farewell to an irreplaceable colleague

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

There are many reasons those of us who weren't born in small towns move to small towns. For me, there was a desire to be part of something beyond myself, to be connected, more intimately, to a community. However, when I was asked to be a pallbearer at a colleague's funeral last weekend, when it seemed I had only just arrived in Pagosa Springs, it was more than I had bargained for.

In all honesty, I didn't know Richard Walter very well. It's true, we sat across from each other in the newsroom, but both of us spent most of the time with eyes glued to computer screens lost in separate worlds of words and quotations. In some ways, our work habits were the same - we didn't talk much and we hammered away, focused on the story at hand.

Over the months and little by little, we got to know each other. Our conversations were usually framed within the context of discussing a story, and in increments, details of our lives emerged. In the end, through these brief conversations, I don't know how much Richard learned about me, but I quickly learned much about him.

What I learned about Richard was that he truly loved this community. He never came out and said this directly, but it was clear from his reporting style, his knowledge of the area and his passion for reporting the seemingly mundane details of day-to-day life in Pagosa Springs that this was the case.

To Richard, a soccer game wasn't just a matter of a score and statistics. Each goal or play was linked to an individual player, and that player was linked to their own set of statistics, triumphs and challenges. Richard's knowledge of those details was encyclopedic. Beyond the player was the player's family - brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents - and he could rattle off the family tree and family history without hesitation.

When it came to a question about a past event or place, Richard never provided a simple explanation. A building was not just a structure that coincided with the numbers in an address. To Richard, a building was a tangible link, a window, into some forgotten page of Pagosa history.

From Richard's perspective, a county road was far more than a mere stretch of gravel or pavement linking two points on a map and local landmark was far more than the stuff of a pretty postcard.

Each, I learned from Richard, was linked to some bit of local lore and each had its own story to tell. Richard knew those stories, and any explanation would be salt-and-peppered with tales of colorful local characters intermixed with anecdotes taken from chapters of his own childhood.

Given his enthusiasm and his knowledge of local history, it is strange that I'll always remember his passing being linked to the destruction of the things he loved so much.

I remember the day clearly. It was early July, a Friday afternoon, and a series of old homes along the east end of Pagosa Street were being demolished. The bulldozers and backhoes were doing nasty work on the buildings and we had been out on separate forays to chronicle the events.

As the newcomer, I returned to the office curious and interested. Richard returned to the office crushed. I'd can't recall ever seeing someone so affected by the demolition of a building, and I remember him sitting in his chair silently, staring at the wall. He seemed lost.

When he finally spoke about what he had seen, there was anger and sorrow in his voice. In his eyes, pages of his history, of Pagosa's history, had been destroyed by the bulldozer's blade. The community had turned a corner, something irreplaceable had been lost. It was too much for him. He looked pale. He left the office early without another word.

The next day I saw him was Saturday. I was driving into town from the east, and he was walking westbound through old Pagosa, along Pagosa Street and past one of the recently demolished homes. He was decked out in his usual attire - big boxy sunglasses, a camera slung around his neck, with his shirt pocket bulging with pens and a narrow reporter's notebook shoved in his back pants pocket. From a distance, all appeared well, but as I approached I noticed there was something distinctly different in his gait. I'd seen Richard walk before. I knew the way he moved. But on that Saturday, he walked without purpose, like a weary, broken man. I wondered if his demeanor was linked to the demolition of the old homes. Perhaps their destruction had affected him deeper than I imagined. I watched him as he moved slowly up the sidewalk and hoped it was my imagination or something simple like the heat.

In the end though, it was something much more, and Richard never regained his stride. Not long after that Saturday, Richard was diagnosed with liver cancer, his condition terminal.

In retrospect, it is ironic that when part of the town he knew and loved was dying, the doctors told him he was dying too.

When I was asked to be a pallbearer at his funeral, it was more than I had bargained for, but I was honored.

Richard was the quintessential reporter and he was old school in the truest sense of the word. In my mind, I envisioned him as a young man, back in the day, hunkered over a typewriter, banging away on the keys and churning out copy like a man possessed. I'm sure he ran a tight ship. I'm sure he never missed a deadline.

His career spanned four decades and he was the product of a brand of journalism from a much different era. He was a reporter in an era when reporting was honorable, long before newspapers and journalists had become "the media."

Richard Walter was a man I never knew very well personally, but his work ethic spoke volumes about who he was as a person. His knowledge and passion for the community he served were unmatched; and his value as a resource and a colleague irreplaceable. He was a man all of us in the newsroom respected and without a doubt he was a man who will be missed.


High Country Reflections

In search of snow

By Chuck McGuire

SUN Columnist

Temperatures topped out in the mid-30s by late morning. The overcast sky grew darker with each passing hour, and forecasters were calling for a winter storm by evening. It was a perfect afternoon for one last drive into the high-country.

By early December several storms had already pushed well to the north, leaving limited measurable snowfall in Pagosa Springs and the surrounding mountains. Of course, what little we had received was mostly at higher elevations, and I hoped to get up there and photograph some dramatic wintertime scenery before the impending squall dropped the one to two feet predicted. Surely, if the weather turned as meteorologists suggested, the primitive forest roads leading to higher terrain would close for the season.

With uncertainty of what weather or road conditions to expect, I grabbed my camera gear and packed the Jeep with snacks, beverages and additional warm clothing, including boots, gloves, a heavy jacket and warm hat. With a full tank of gas, I felt prepared for ... whatever ... and headed up Piedra Road toward Williams Creek Reservoir.

Within minutes, I passed Hatcher Lake, Turkey Springs Road, then Jack's Pasture Road, and entered the broad open meadows of O'Neal Park. There, Pagosa Peak, Toner Mountain and other snowcapped summits loomed large on the northern horizon, and at once, a low-flying harrier soared over the road in front of me. I slowed to watch for a moment as the magnificent bird was obviously hunting, but he quickly swept through the varied topography of Perry Draw and soon dropped out of sight. No doubt, with the normally-abundant prairie dogs and ground squirrels long settled in winter hibernation, the fearsome predator was covering a lot of ground in search of small birds or the odd bunny.

Five minutes and roughly three miles further, as I approached the confluence of O'Neal and Gordon creeks, a great cloud of dust rising from the roadbed ahead abruptly caught my attention. At first, I thought an oncoming vehicle or virile gust of wind was the cause, but as I curiously and cautiously continued on, and as the befouled haze eventually cleared, a herd of at least 30 wapiti materialized near the bottom of a sharp draw to my left.

With a grace and synchronous fluidity that seemed impossible for such a band of large wild ungulates, they appeared to flow smoothly as one, across O'Neal Creek and up a steep rise to the south. I marveled at the apparent ease - and speed - with which they ascended the hill, where, upon reaching the top, they turned west and without hesitation, galloped over the ridge and out of view.

There wasn't time for photographs, the big deer were on a mission. Besides, from the minute I first spotted them, they had already moved well beyond the limited range of my camera lens. But I did manage to observe them with binoculars for a spell, and easily distinguished a fine young bull among the rest, all cows and calves. The handsome stag's rack was wide and symmetric, and I figured if he survived at least another year or two, he'd doubtless contend with others for the romantic affections of those he traveled with this day.

The elk had gone and I sat for a short while, my excitement slowly waning. I looked around to see if any others were in the area, and almost immediately, a conspicuous speck appeared in the sky over the Piedra River canyon west of me. As I watched, the black object grew nearer and larger, and ultimately formed broad wings and a white head and tail. This time, grabbing both my camera and binoculars, I jumped out of the Jeep for an unobstructed view.

It was my first sighting of a bald eagle this winter season, and it was of a large fully-mature bird with about a seven-foot wingspan. I watched in awe as it flew fast overhead, gliding just high enough that it too, remained out of reach of my camera. In an instant, while riding strong winds aloft, the winged monarch vanished, and my thoughts turned to the many more I'd certainly see in the trees along the river banks of the San Juan over the next several months.

Soon, I was again in the Jeep and on my way up Piedra, still en route to the reservoir. Skies over the yet-distant peaks had darkened considerably, and the summits themselves were now somewhat obscured, as curtains of gray gradually descended over their precipitous flanks. It appeared the winter storm was developing as predicted.

A consistent northwesterly breeze pushed at my vehicle, as I casually motored into more forested terrain. The land itself appeared completely deserted and whenever I stopped for a time, only the subtle wail of the wind wafting through the trees, along with the occasional croonk of a raven or the unmistakable songs of mountain and black-capped chickadees, broke the otherwise tranquil silence.

Aside from an unequivocal lack of snowpack over the surrounding landscape, the entire countryside was invariably beautiful and utterly peaceful. The tall sedges and native grasses, now dried to a deep golden hue, wavered in the wind, as great stands of aspen, having long since dropped their leaves, stood stark and gray against the vast sprawling backdrop of pine, spruce and fir. It looked as if the earth and its inhabitants were ready, just waiting for that heavy blanket of white to shield all but the trees from the bitter cold and brutal winds that would ultimately arrive.

As I gained elevation, my route narrowed and the adjacent forest steadily closed in. At that point, most of the shaded areas held an inch or two of snow, and tire tracks suggested other travelers had only recently passed through. I wasn't surprised. With such calm and serenity so late in the year, I fully expected to encounter others at some point - if not at the lake, then just off the road where firewood lay in abundance.

But as I finally made the turn into the reservoir entrance, only to find the area completely devoid of human occupation, the only thing perhaps more surprising was the clear lack of ice on the water's surface. Only the uppermost end, and a narrow stretch along the dam, held thin layers, where a variety of waterfowl bobbed offhandedly in the waves just beyond. The lofty mountain peaks, now much closer, were striking and majestic, as increasing snow showers settled in over their broad glacial valleys.

Meanwhile, the wind rolled incessantly over the lake as I stepped out for a few scenic photos. Although the projected storm had yet to arrive at lower elevations, a few flurries swirled about, even as small openings appeared in the sky directly above. The air, though obviously moist, felt reasonably warm, but the windchill quickly sent me back to the relative comfort of the Jeep.

After several minutes of scanning the sweeping and spectacular views through my binoculars, I drove above the lake toward a well-known trailhead leading into the Weminuche Wilderness. From the lake, the trailhead is little more than two miles, but just short of that distance, a makeshift barricade temporarily blocked access, no doubt, due to ongoing parking area construction. So, I turned around and, out of curiosity, detoured up another side road, driving the approximate two miles to its end.

There, I discovered another small lake - a pond really - and decided to walk (stumble) to its shore. The surface was completely frozen over, and its entire perimeter was lined with thick cattails, which in turn, were flanked by towering spruce and fir. The setting was sublime and in the quiet, I felt as though I was the only human on earth.

I stood for a long while, until I'd captured several photos and began feeling the numbness creeping into my fingers and toes. Only then, I reluctantly returned to the Jeep and, as the afternoon wore on, slowly headed back toward civilization.

Other than the all-encompassing beauty of the immense forest environment, only a few passing ravens and a single cottontail favored my drive down to the broad open meadows of O'Neal Park. Once there, I looked again for the familiar band of elk, but of course, they were nowhere in sight.

However, in passing a fairly prominent knoll, often referred to as The Ant Hill, I spotted two giant birds riding the thermals high overhead. A quick stop and prolonged look through the glasses revealed them as adult golden eagles, apparently out for some late-day sport.

The snowstorm (term loosely applied), emphatically promised by forecasters statewide, finally arrived in the middle of the night. By morning, all of two inches lay in the yard, and most of it has since melted away. While more supposedly fell in the high-country, most again blanketed the mountains far to the north. Now as I sit, still waiting for a bona fide whiteout, I wonder what photo ops might linger up at the lakes.



Pagosa's Ambassador

Dear Editor:

Pagosa Springs has a great ambassador. His name is Forest Bramwell, son of my very good friends, Fay and Gary Bramwell. My wife and I have enjoyed watching Forest these past ten nights competing in the 2005 National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas in the bareback competition. Forest had a combination of some bad draws and equally bad luck, but he climbed on top of every rank bronc he drew each night and gave it his best. He brought the name of Pagosa Springs to folks all across this great country in his travels to the NFR this year. Then, for the past ten nights, he introduced Pagosa Springs to tens of thousands of viewers all across America on national television.

I have never met a nicer, more polite and courteous young man in all of my life, and I've run across quite a few, having taught and coached in college for twenty-seven years. Forest is someone of whom everyone in Pagosa can be proud. In a time of drugs, gangs, and selfish, showboat "look at me" professional athletes, I can't think of a better role model for the young people of Pagosa Springs or America than Forest Bramwell.

God Bless you Forest. Jolyn and I will look forward to seeing you perform again next year at the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas. We're proud of you, son!

Roy Boutwell

Wichita Falls, Texas


Reality check

Dear Editor:

I would like to suggest to Mr. Anthony M. Kelly that if he is seeking reality that he take a short drive to the city of Cortez and proceed to the downtown section. Walk the length of the business district on both sides of the street and note the number of vacant store fronts. Stop in one of the remaining businesses and ask the store owner about the future of their business. You might want to stay at one of the local inns and talk to the woman in the office and discuss with her the impact of the local Wal Mart and how her husband feels about the subject. These people will give you "reality."

There is a real good chance that when you pass through the town in the future, all that will consist of the downtown section of Cortez will be abandoned and decaying buildings that once represented the small mom and pop stores that not only sold goods and services but, endorsed the "town" concept.

And so Mr. Kelly, if you need more "reality" may I suggest a book "How Wal Mart is Destroying America and the World and What You Can Do About It." The author is Bill Quinn.

Fred Bunney


Gather facts

Dear Editor:

In his December 8 letter to the editor Greg Gosar offers that Pat Skroch "should have gotten a few facts." Unfortunately, Mr. Gosar's "facts" do very little to negate and probably enforce Ms. Skroch's assertions.

He begins by arbitrarily stating that the number of proposed units at the Village at Wolf Creek has increased, apparently expecting Ms. Skroch to believe that the crux of his and other dissentients' oppositions is in fact relevant to the number of units. He goes on to make vague and impertinent remarks about two decisions regarding approval of the development and their subsequent reversals. One of the reversals was to his liking and the other he curtly dismisses as "mysterious" as if that alone moves his opinion into the realm of fact.

The letter disintegrates to blatant comedy upon Mr. Gosar's suggestion that the residents of the proposed Village would be unable to meet their own basic needs, forcing "local downstream" taxpayers to come to the rescue.

Perhaps Mr. Gosar should have gathered a few facts of his own.

The costs of taxpayer subsidization for the Village, should any be required, would fall to the county in which the development is located. To pretend that Archuleta, Rio Grande, or other neighboring counties would shoulder the burden while Mineral County sits back and collects the property tax revenue is comically absurd.

Furthermore, the lack of access, water, power, sewer, and other services are self-evident, just as they were when Wolf Creek Ski Area was created. The costs to create and provide these services will be incurred by the developers and passed along to those who inhabit the Village. For most residents, the Village would be a second or third home, occupied only a few months of the year; hardly prime candidates for government aid.

Rep. Salazar's opposition is clearly nothing more than pandering to his ill-informed constituency. He cites "untold" socioeconomic impacts and says a lot about what he "thinks" may happen. A true Democrat, Salazar's opposition is riddled with glaring contradictions. He waxes poetic about the greater good, then feigns concern for the economic well-being of a single wealthy family. He continually votes for increased social service benefits for economically disadvantaged citizens, then claims that an influx of those who reap the benefits would be a disaster for the communities they inhabit.

The same ignorant clan who oppose the Village with their astoundingly clever "Pillage" bumper stickers are the identical faction who vociferously denounce BootJack Management, Wal Mart, and any other entity with economic development aspirations. Given no other plausible reason I am left to conclude that their opposition is seated in jealousy and envy. Considering they are not capable of any kind of significant undertaking of their own, the make every effort to handicap anyone who does have that ability. They are content to "Keep Pagosa, Pagosa" - a place where they are not required to live up to any standards or achieve anything at all.

Matthew C. Diehl



Dear Editor:

I received an e-mail Sunday morning. It talked about the FOX morning news/talk show on 5 December, where there was a story about Col. Oliver North and Col. Hunt (both members of the FOX news staff) visiting wounded US military personnel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. They were talking to a young soldier recently wounded in Iraq, a Joshua Sparling, who is recovering at Walter Reed. On a wall next to the young man's bed was a single get well card that said something along the lines of "Have a great time in the war and have a great time dying in the war. PS DIE." I couldn't believe it. I immediately suspected a new "urban legend’" so I did a Google search on his name - and sure enough it is true.

There was a picture of the card, which looks like it was written by a 5-year-old. Some sick person has either written, or helped a child to write, an "I hope you die" get well card. It was apparently the only card that this young man had received; and, true to form, he put it on the wall next to his bed as an inspiration to recover, rehabilitate, and get back to his unit and friends.

This ain't about politics’ folks. Young men and women in this country from all social, political, economic, racial, educational, etc., walks of life join the military for a great variety of personal reasons. Buried somewhere in the rationale of almost all of them is a sense of duty and responsibility, a desire to protect and defend the Constitution and the United States, and a desire to be a part of something bigger than cruising Main Street or figuring out what to wear to the next party.

The military in this country does not make policy and they don't get to decide where, when, or how to implement policy. They go where they're told, when they're told, to do what they're told, how they're told to do it. We fought, died, and were wounded in Viet Nam because Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Congress sent us. We did the same thing in Somalia because Clinton and Congress sent us and we're doing the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan because Bush and Congress have sent us. Those who pay the price for supporting their elected government's policies deserve better than this.

Michelle Malkin of FOX News put out Joshua Sparling's name and address at Walter Reed so he can get some real get well cards. Her Web site also lists the address for the Red Cross office at Walter Reed, where cards can be sent to be further distributed to other wounded personnel who may not be getting much mail. Suggestions for gifts include stamps and phone cards.

If ever there was a reason to send a card to someone you don't know, this is it. I urge everyone in Pagosa Springs to send a card (and a message to whoever sent the "I hope you die" get well card) to young Mr. Sparling or to the Red Cross at Walter Reed to give to someone else. If you can afford to put some little thing in the card I'm sure that would also be greatly appreciated.

Addresses are: Joshua Sparling, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue NW , Washington D.C 20307-5001 or Red Cross, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue NW , Washington D.C 20307-5001.

James Huffman

Kate's Calendar

Kate's Calendar

By Kate Terry

PREVIEW Columnist

Dec. 15

The Women's Civic Club of Pagosa Springs Christmas party will be held at Betsy Gill's house. She lives at 999 Stevens Lake Road (this is a place change). Call 731-4725 or 731-9979 for directions. The time is 7 p.m.

Dec. 17

The Sarah Platt Decker Daughters of the American Revolution meets at the Durango/La Plata Senior Center at 10 a.m. Call 247-1965 for more information.

Dec. 17

Open house at the Ruby Sisson Library 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Featured will be a reading of "The Polar Express" in the Children's room at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and a dramatization by the Pagosa Pretenders in the Great Room at noon. Refreshments will be served.

Dec. 18

"Christmas Sing-Along" of carols and choruses from Handel's "Messiah," 3 p.m. in the Community United Methodist Church - to be sung by the audience with orchestra accompaniment. Free admission. Those who just want to "listen" are invited, too. If you have a score to "Messiah," bring it.

Dec. 18

Pagosa Singles (40-plus are welcome) Christmas party, 4:30 p.m. Bring a white elephant gift. Bring hors d'oeuvres to share and your personal drink.

Call for directions, 731-9129.

Dec. 21

"Old Fashioned Christmas," 6-8 p.m., at the Power House Gym, located behind the Humane Society Thrift Store, by the Town Park ball field. Spend the evening making old-fashioned Christmas decorations, decorate and eat Christmas cookies, sing along with your favorite Christmas carols, listen to Christmas stories and spend time with your family. Cocoa and goodies will be sold at the snack bar. For more information, call Kay Dean, 731-5767.

Dec. 24

There will be a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 6 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 2772 Rock Road.

Dec. 31

Community New Year's Eve dance, 9:05 p.m.-12:30 a.m. at the community center. John Graves, Larry Elginer, Susanna Ninichuck and John's son will provide the music. Watch for more details.

Jan. 5

The monthly meeting of the San Juan Outdoor Club will be held at The Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard at 6:30 p.m. This month's program will feature David Hunter sharing his colorful slide show of the Zion National Park hiking trip. Sign-ups for activities this month include snow shoeing and cross country skiing. For information call Sue Passant at 731-3836. Visitors welcome.

Jan. 12

The Newcomer Club will meet at JJ's Upstream Restaurant at 6 p.m. No reservations necessary. Price is $8 per person. The club is sponsored by the Pagosa Springs Welcoming Service. For more information, call Lyn DeLange at 731-2398. There will be no December club meeting.


Community News

To fund, or not to fund: A

cultural center for Pagosa Springs

By Leanne Goebel

Special to The PREVIEW

The Pagosa Springs Arts Alliance (PSAA) is asking for $10,000 from the Town of Pagosa Springs and $5,000 from Archuleta County for a total of $15,000 in taxpayer money to help fund a feasibility study on whether or not Pagosa Springs is ready to build a cultural arts center.

More specifically, they are hoping that the feasibility study will help determine the appropriate size for the venue. The PSAA is a new organization that brings together Friends of the Performing Arts and the Music Boosters Dream Team along with other interested community members to construct and manage a cultural arts center; to develop an assistance program for local arts students and aspiring artists; and to develop formal and informal educational arts resources for learned of all ages that would ultimately include an arts college.

Friends of the Performing Arts (FoPA) was founded in 2002 by Sandy Applegate and John Porter following a Music Boosters production of "You Can't Take it With You." The cast and crew were frustrated because they couldn't rehearse in the high school auditorium. They had to rent space at the Ridgeview Mall (currently Terry's Ace Hardware). When it came time to perform, the Music Boosters were bumped when the basketball team played an extra game in the gym. (The limited parking and acoustics don't allow for the auditorium, commons and gymnasium to be used at the same time and a school event takes precedent over a community event.)

"We needed a space dedicated to all of the performing arts. One group alone can keep the space busy enough," Applegate said.""There is so much talent in the community that is separate from our big musical productions. We needed the space to showcase the wide variety of talent here: individuals, small groups, as well as large community events."

Applegate began talking to people about her idea. Her husband John, also active in several local nonprofit organizations, planned to attend Philanthropy Days, an event that brings nonprofits and foundations together every other in year to discuss ideas that need funding. Applegate approached Music Boosters and asked if she could attend under their umbrella and Music Booster agreed to have Applegate and another board member, Andy Donlon, act as their liaison to Philanthropy Days, but only Applegate attended.

Applegate said she received very positive reactions from the funders to the idea of building a theatre in Pagosa. Applegate then approached Music Boosters about the idea of building a community venue, but they were interested in a goal that would result in "Music Boosters multiplied." Applegate then approached the Pagosa Springs Arts Council about the idea of building a community venue.

"They said no," Applegate said.

Applegate and John Porter formed FoPA and filed for nonprofit status receiving a 501(c) 3 designation. Applegate says that those who know her realize the name has special affinity and humor. "I'm the queen of the faux pas," she said.

Problems began when FoPA began showcasing local talent. "What better way to get this idea out than by showing what talent we have here," Applegate said. "We wanted to do small, quality productions to help raise funds." They formed a performing arts group called "Footlighters."

"People were blown away by the quality. People were getting excited," Applegate said.

But some people were confused. Why do we have so many performing arts groups in a town this size? Why don't they all work together? Other performing groups felt threatened by Footlighters and FoPA encroaching on their audience.

FoPA's idea was to be visible and to earn a little money. Applegate knew that the money would not just appear, that they had to visible in order to build up the level of creative capital, to bring more awareness to the local talent and the need for a center.

During this same time, Music Boosters said they dropped the ball. "Sandy took an idea and ran with it," Michael DeWinter, president of Music Boosters said. "She looked at the old school house, that old barn that blew down. We were behind them. We said we would do whatever we could to help and we key-holed a little bit of money."

FoPA raised well over $10,000 and planned to use that money to raise more by applying for matching fund grants. In late 2002, they decided to expand the FoPA board and brought on additional community members: first, Walter Green and later Susan Neder, Felicia Meyer and Lynda Van Patter.

When Walter Green returned from a trip to Florida that October, he learned he had been elected president of FoPA.

"I love the performing arts and I thought I could be of help," he said.

Green's first priority was to put a plan together, a preliminary document that outlined what the organization hoped to achieve. "You can't just talk and get anywhere," Green said.

The board approached Maggie Caruso, who did a great deal of work to design a conceptual plan, based on a needs assessment completed by J.R. Porter Associates, Inc., that took the input from eleven organizations, including: Pagosa Springs Arts Council, Footlighters, Pretenders, San Juan Festival Ballet, Whistle Pig, Community Choir and the Education Center. Caruso's conceptual plan was a visual representation of what might be needed to accommodate current and future needs. The conceptual plan included a big reception area for visual art display, space for all different organizations and disciplines: theatre, dance and visual art. Designed to be built in phases, they planned to start with a 90- to 130-seat black box theatre and then add a 200-seat main theatre that could eventually be doubled with the addition of a balcony. It was visual brainstorming, but for many the conceptual drawings looked too concrete and they dismissed it.

By the end of 2004, FoPA had drawings, floor plans and a possible location at Aspen Village that involved a shared parking arrangement with the Baptist Church, and a donation of more than three-acres along with the purchase of three acres, financed by the developer.

"Maggie felt it could be done and I think it was a good location," Green said. "My goals were achieved."

Two weeks before the end of his two-year term, Green asked the board to support the purchase of the property and they made a down payment. But Music Boosters approached FoPA and asked them to not move forward with the Aspen Village location because they didn't think it would be big enough for their concept.

In 2003, Music Boosters formed a "Dream Team" and began to envision a facility based on the Irving Art Center in Irving, Texas, which has a population 194,547 and sits in the middle of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with an estimated population of 6 million. The Irving Arts Center is owned by the City of Irving who established an Arts Board in 1980 funded by the local hotel occupancy tax. In 1986, the first phase of the center opened and was completed in 1990. The Irving Arts Center is 91,500 square foot performing and visual arts space with a 707-seat concert hall, a 253-seat theatre and four gallery spaces with a 3,800 square foot main gallery. The Irving Arts Center is home to 18 arts organizations.

The Dream Team envisioned the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts to be a 198,260 square foot facility on 15 acres with a 1,000-seat theatre, a 350-seat thrust stage and a 250-seat salon theatre, a children's theatre, a sculpture garden, an art gallery, rehearsal halls, construction shop, paint shop, dressing rooms, set storage, prop and costume storage and office space. They thought this could be a commercial venture tied to a convention center and flagship hotel. They approached local developers who suggested that if they provided a feasibility study that they might be interested.

In 2004, Jon Nash Putnam approached Music Boosters and suggested he was in contact with a venture capital group that was interested in funding projects with an educational component. (Music Boosters provides scholarships to local high school students and has donated musical instruments and other equipment to the high school. Dale Morris, a member of the Music Boosters board, also serves as volunteer director for the high school drama program.)

Putnam gave a long list of experiences and professed contact with people like Red McCombs and suggested that these moneyed Texans might fund a multi-million dollar facility. Nash Putnam, whose wife, Elaine, worked in the music business in Nashville, also suggested that a facility like this would be ideal for professional music groups and theatrical road shows that would find Pagosa Springs an ideal stopover between scheduled dates in Denver and Phoenix or Salt Lake City.

In the summer of 2004, Clay Pruitt, a high school student awarded a Music Boosters scholarship to attend the University of Colorado, approached Michael De Winter and told him about a dream he had and in his dream, he said Pagosa had a performing arts college.

"He gave us the expansive dream that none of us ever thought about," Graves said.

The Dream Team expanded its vision to include a future performing arts college and took the money they had key-holed and paid Nash Putnam a $7,500 retainer to do the preliminary work necessary to hire a consultant to perform a feasibility study. He was to complete a budget and raise the funds by private donation to pay for the study. They also formed a separate nonprofit called Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts

During this same time, Walter Green was contacted by Music Boosters and told there was someone who wanted to meet with him. A lunch appointment was scheduled and no one showed up, Green said. Several months later, Jon Nash Putnam approached FoPA and asked them to not move forward with the Aspen Village location.

FoPA requested a meeting with the Music Boosters board to discuss their issues and reasoning and Nash Putnam said that FoPA needed to deal with him. At this time, FoPA was unaware that Nash Putnam was on retainer. A. John Graves sat on the Music Booster's board and served as the Education Center and Music Boosters liaison to FoPA. According to DeWinter, it was Graves who advised Music Boosters against involving FoPA in the hiring of Nash Putnam and the pursuit of their concept for the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. But when Porter, Nash Putnam and Green met, Nash Putnam asked FoPA to stop their project as the arrangement with Aspen Village would not accommodate the concept for the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts and the public would think a performing arts center was a done deal, which would hamper the efforts of the Dream Team.

"The whole goal of [FoPA] was to build a theatre," Green said. "I had a good approach, I thought, for how to get that done."

Unfortunately, the FoPA board did not agree. By a 3-2 vote they decided not to move forward and pursue fund-raising without the support of Music Boosters. Green was understandably upset.

"I had a lot to be upset about," Green said. "When you work so hard and your fellow board members don't have a conviction. If you don't feel you have support you need to move on."

Green resigned from FoPA two weeks from the end of this two-year term.

"There have always been differences of opinion on size and location," Neder said. "Both groups thought they were working in tandem. When the Dream Team learned that FoPA was considering the Aspen Village land, they said, "Wait! Let's combine forces." Neder, De Winter and Dale Morris all say that Music Boosters has always been supportive of FoPA.

After Walter Green resigned, Neder became president of FoPA and met personally with each member of the Music Boosters board. She began working with John Nash Putnam to merge the Dream Team and FoPA together, to broaden the board to include more members of the community. Nash Putnam spent a lot time trying to determine if the Pagosa Center for the Arts would fit on the Aspen Village property. For several months the new board worked diligently to come up with a new name and create a broad and encompassing mission statement. Today, FoPA and the Dream Team are now united as the Pagosa Springs Arts Alliance. The PSAA board includes: Neder, Patsy Lindblad, Dale Morris, Michael DeWinter, Scott Farnham, Jim Morris, Ed Lowrance, Felicia Meyer, Ronnie Zaday and Judy James, with John Graves and Julie Jessen as liaisons to the Education Center and the Town of Pagosa Springs, respectively.

"There has still been some criticism that FoPA and Music Boosters are exclusivist," Neder said. "All the arts are important and have different considerations. We invite anyone to be a part of the process."

PSAA is currently trying to raise the money necessary to pay for a feasibility study and hope that a professional consultant will help define the appropriate sized venue that Pagosa Springs can support. The PSAA Board has raised $5,000 and they hope to get funds from a Region 9 Economic Development grant. PSAA estimates that the feasibility study will cost between $50,000-$60,000 over several phases and the first phase should cost around $20,000.

When asked why they didn't just take the money, rent a warehouse and start a black box theatre, Lindblad said that they hoped the consultant would help them define a facilities plan and the appropriate steps to take.

"This is the sort of thing that is energizing and the board will be looking at this," Neder said.

"We want to see a percentage of the proceeds go back to education and we will have an endowment to pay the light bills, etcetera," De Winter said. Preliminary estimated costs to maintain a facility the size the Dream Team envisions are close to $500,000 a year.

Currently, local performing arts organizations pay only janitorial fees to use the high school auditorium.

"If we have to pay $1,200 bucks a night rental to do a performance, there's no way," De Winter said, referring to Music Boosters.

"We definitely have to be realistic," Dale Morris added. "It will be really interesting to see what the feasibility study says."

"I would find it hard to believe with the way things are growing, that we cannot support a cultural arts center. If we build it correctly, it can serve as a lot of different things," De Winter added.

As for the Aspen Village property, Mike Church expressed to Neder that Aspen Village was open to talking them and they would assess the situation when they are ready.

And although Nash Putnam was paid $7,500 by Music Boosters and additional $4,000 by PSAA to assist PSAA in securing up to $100,000 in contributions and to evaluate and advise the organization on plans relating to the financing and development of an Arts Center, it is Lindblad who is volunteering her time to review the existing Needs Assessment and Economic Significant Study done by Porter and it is Lindblad who is spearheaded the funding drive and researching all performing arts events that have happened in Pagosa Springs over the past two years.

"I think we will all be flabbergasted at the amount of performances we've had," Lindblad said.

Green, who is now running for county commissioner, was asked what he thought about the request PSAA has made to the county to pay for the feasibility study.

"I think the county better concentrate on providing necessary services. The citizenry is not well served by paying for any such study. If they can't convince through voluntary efforts the funding of this study, then they shouldn't be looking for a handout from the taxpayers."


Christmas season event and worship schedule at CUMC

By Donald A. Ford

Special to The PREVIEW

This Christmas season, the Community United Methodist Church will include the following events and worship services.

On Sunday, Dec. 18, the choir will present its annual Christmas Cantata at both the 8:15 and 11 a.m. worship services. A special Children's Sunday School event will take place 9:30 a.m. during the Sunday School hour between worship services. At 3 p.m. we will host a community Christmas carol sing-along that will include Handel's "Messiah." Then, at 5 p.m., an all-church Christmas dinner will be served that will include a special guest dressed in red who is very jolly.

Saturday night, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, the 7 p.m. service will include a living nativity with all children present involved. We will provide costumes for each. The 9 p.m. service will be the traditional candle-lighting service that will end with the singing of "Silent Night, Holy Night" and candle lighting.

Sunday, Christmas Day, we will have one combined worship service at 10 a.m. with no Sunday School. There will be one service at 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 1.

We wish each and all a very joyous and meaningful Christmas.


ManKind Project to present interactive drama

By John Gwin

Special to The PREVIEW

Do you think, say or do things you regret?

Perhaps you hide, repress or deny your feelings?

ManKind Project International will present "Head Heart and Soul," which demonstrates how we can heal emotional wounds and become more congruent and connected to our feelings. This interactive drama will be presented at 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Pagosa springs Community Center.

"Head Heart and Soul" sculpts a person's stages of emotional development from childhood, and demonstrates how we create "shadows" by hiding, repressing or denying our feelings.

This free drama is open to all adults, regardless of religious beliefs, marital status or gender. Refreshments and a question/answer period will follow this interactive presentation.

MKP is a secular, non-profit, multicultural international men's organization, 40,000 strong, whose motto is: "Changing the world one man at a time."

ManKind Project and Women Within, a sister organization for women, enable men and women to hold themselves accountable and be in integrity with themselves and others.


UUs to hold Christmas Tree of Hope service

On Sunday, Dec. 18, the Pagosah Unitarian Universalist Fellowship will hold its annual Christmas Tree of Hope service.

Those attending are invited to turn on an individual light on the tree as they share thoughts or readings on finding peace in the midst of turmoil in this uncertain world. After the last person has spoken, the fully-illuminated tree serves as a symbol of the power that people of good will can generate when they unite in dedication to the common good.

The UU's traditional Christmas potluck will follow the service, which begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Pagosah Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall, Unit 15, Greenbriar Plaza. Turn east on Greenbrier Drive off of North Pagosa by the fire station, then left into the parking lot and look for the big sign. All are welcome.


Music in the Mountains tickets, a perfect Christmas gift

By Carole Howard

Special to The PREVIEW

If you are looking for a very special holiday gift, Music in the Mountains suggests gift certificates for one or more of the outstanding concerts scheduled for Pagosa Springs next summer, as our local classical music festival celebrates its fifth anniversary in our town.

Gift certificates are available for four 2006 concerts, each featuring world-class musicians:

1. July 19 - The season opens with the outstanding Adkins Quintet featured on strings and piano. Tickets for this concert are $40.

2. July 21 - Dueling violinists Vadim Gluzman and Philippe Quint will provide a unique opportunity to see two of the world's finest violinists on stage together, accompanied by Gluzman's wife Angela Yoffe on piano. Tickets for this concert are $40.

3. July 29 - The full orchestra will perform with Bruce Hangen, principal guest conductor of the Boston Pops, and Van Cliburn medalist Avram Reichert on piano. Tickets for this concert are $50.

4. Aug. 4 - The full orchestra returns under the baton of Boris Brott, an internationally recognized Canadian conductor. World-famous classical guitarist Sir Angel Romero will be the featured soloist. This is the first time Pagosa hosts a second full orchestra concert in the same season, the addition coming as a result of the highly positive response to our first full orchestra event last summer. Tickets for this concert are $50.

Tickets at the Chamber

To make tickets to one of these events a gift for special people on your Christmas list, visit the Chamber of Commerce in downtown Pagosa Springs or call them at (800) 252-2204 or 264-2360. Pay by cash, check or credit card (MasterCard or Visa) and arrangements will be made to get you an attractive holiday gift certificate.

All of the Music in the Mountains concerts take place in a spectacular mountain setting, under the tent at BootJack Ranch at the foot of Wolf Creek Pass.

Chairman of the Pagosa committee organizing these local festival events is Jan Clinkenbeard. "We're incredibly lucky to have first-class musicians who have performed to rave reviews around the world come to Pagosa to play for us," she said.

Clinkenbeard pointed out that ticket prices cover only a small portion of the cost of putting on these concerts. "Pagosa audiences enjoy the many soloists we attract summer after summer. That is why the contributions we receive from individual donors, businesses and other larger organizations are so crucial to our Pagosa festival," she said.

As well, all of the planning and organizational work is done by Clinkenbeard and her local volunteer steering committee composed of Melinda Baum, Mary Jo Coulehan, Lauri Heraty, Carole Howard, Crystal Howe, Teresa Huft and Lisa Scott.

Various promotion opportunities are available to program advertisers and major donors. For more information, contact Clinkenbeard at 264-5918.


A Classic Christmas concert

Rich with splendid music, "A Classic Christmas" is a community concert that promises to bring a sense of joy, harmony, elegance and meaning to the holiday season.

Some of Pagosa's finest musicians will perform a colorful spectrum of classical music and special holiday songs. The concert will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse.

Performers for this musical celebration include vocalists June Marquez and Jessica Espinoza; harpist Natalie Tyson; Mountain Harmony Ladies' Barbershop Chorus; pianists John Graves and Melinda Baum; trumpet virtuoso, Larry Elginer; classical saxophonist Bob Nordmann, and Renaissance minstrels Carla and Paul Roberts. Jarrell Tyson will be master of ceremonies.

Mountain Harmony Ladies' Barbershop Chorus has prepared an varied program of holiday music that includes "Coventry Carol," "Songs for Hanukkah," "Celebrate Kwanzaa" and "Jingle Bells."

The Coventry Carol is a Christmas carol dating from the 16th Century. Songs for Hanukkah celebrates the Jewish holiday, also known as the Festival of lights. Kwanzaa honors the African-American heritage.

Elginer will perform trumpet solos, including a prelude by Bach and "Elegy," by Beldon Leonard, accompanied by Melinda Baum on piano.

Marquez will sing "Feliz Navidad," "Silent Night" (in Spanish) and "Blue Christmas." She will a sing "Winter Wonderland" with her niece, Jessica Espinosa. Espinosa will sing "Christmas Song." John Graves will accompany Marquez and Espinosa.

Graves will lead sing-alongs of favorite Christmas carols, accompanied by a prestigious cast of all-stars.

Tyson will play "A Minuet from Sixth French Suite," by Bach; "My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice," by Saint Saëns; and a 15th century pavane.

Carla and Paul Roberts will perform early country and courtly dance tunes and aires from the British Isles. The duo will play recorders, cittern, bodhran and mandolin.

Nordmann will show why the saxophone was originally intended for classical music, with his performance of "Six Studies in English Folksong" by Ralph Vaughan Williams and "Adagio in G Minor" by Tomazo Albinoni. Nordmann will be accompanied by Melinda Baum on piano. Vaughan Williams was among the very first to travel into the English countryside to collect folk songs and carols from singers, over one hundred years ago, notating them for future generations to enjoy. "Six Studies," a lighthearted piece, is one of Vaughan Williams's best-loved works. Albinoni's Adagio, a hauntingly beautiful work, is one of the most frequently recorded pieces of Baroque music. It has made memorable contributions to the soundtracks of several movies.

"The saxophone was designed as a classical instrument, to be part of the woodwind section of the orchestra," Bob Nordmann explained. "But its first real acceptance was in marching bands. From there it found a natural home in jazz, because of its expressive abilities. The classical saxophone remained in the background until the twentieth century, when more composers found the sound of the instrument interesting, and began to compose music for it.

"A few years ago, when Melinda Baum was looking for people to play at an Easter sunrise service," recalled Nordmann. "I jokingly told her, 'I'd be happy to play saxophone for you, but unfortunately I sold mine a long time ago.' To my surprise, she told me that I could borrow her son's instrument. I tried it, and found that it came back rather easily."

It had been 40 years since Nordmann had played the saxophone.

Now he's a valuable participant in the local music scene, performing in the Pagosa Springs Community Band, the Pagosa Springs Community Choir, the Methodist Church Choir, a wind quintet, the Oktoberfest Oompah Band and various other ensembles.

"I'm very happy when I'm playing music," said Nordmann. "It's an expressive thing. I can sit down and practice for two or three hours and totally enjoy it."

As a young boy growing up in Chicago, Nordmann fell in love with classical music while listening to the radio. "I started collecting a lot of records, he says, "and by the time I was in high school, I was pretty familiar with the classical repertoire."

He began studying the saxophone in the fifth grade and continued playing it through high school, performing in the school band, orchestras for musicals and dance bands.

After high school, Nordmann set his horn aside. He went to college, became an officer in the Navy, raised a family and had a long career with the Frito-Lay company. He retired and moved to Pagosa with his wife, Janet, in 2001.

"I'm very lucky to be here," says Nordmann. "Opportunities abound, and people are very supportive and encourage you to do things. I'm really enjoying doing a lot of things that I couldn't have done before. I am extremely grateful to Melinda Baum, Larry Elginer and Dave Krueger, who have encouraged me to start making music again. It's become a very important and joyful part of my life."

Come hear Nordmann along with other inspiring musicians in A Classic Christmas.

Tickets will be available at the door. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for children under 18.

Please bring a dessert to share, if you wish. Volunteers are needed for setup and cleanup. Call 731-3117 for more information.

Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse is located at 230 Port Ave. in the Vista subdivision of Pagosa Lakes. Take U.S. 160 to Vista Boulevard. Turn north on Vista and left on Port.

A Classic Christmas is produced by Elation Center for the Arts, a local nonprofit. Proceeds from the concert support the organization's efforts to bring community concerts, music and dance classes, and other cultural enrichment programs to Pagosa Springs.


Last weekend for Shy Rabbit invitational and open exhibit

By Denise Coffee

Special to The PREVIEW

The Showroom and the Space @ SHY RABBIT will be open 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for the final two days of the "Artists' Invitational & Open Juried Exhibition." Artists will be on hand to answer your questions.

This ambitious exhibition highlights the work of four remarkable invited artists, together with juried entries from 15 uniquely talented, emerging artists. Close to 50 pieces of art are on display, ranging from large contemporary oil and gold-leaf paintings, to unique, finely crafted bronze sculptures. The juried portion of this show is the product of a call to artists that went out in October and resulted in the receipt of nearly 80 entries from 24 artists residing in Pagosa, Durango, Salida and elsewhere.

After careful review by a jury committee, several works by 15 artists were accepted for inclusion in the show. The committee would like to thank all of the talented artists that submitted their work for consideration, and also acknowledge their valuable contribution to the creative process.

Featured in the SHY RABBIT Showroom are the works of acclaimed photographer, Emilio Mercado, whose work is inspired by master still life painter, Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin (b. 1699). Mercado's light painted photographs capture objects in their purest form.

Additional invited artists are contemporary painter Sarah Comerford, known for her thought provoking large scale oil and gold-leaf paintings; mixed-media artist Susan Andersen (MarSan), recognized locally and internationally for her fine assemblage art; and installation artist Shan Wells, known most recently for his impressive "Moments Project" in Durango.

SHY RABBIT is located at: 333 Bastille Drive, B-1 & B-4, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. For additional information, call 731-2766, or e-mail


All are invited to annual 'Messiah' sing-along

By Carroll Carruth

Special to the PREVIEW

You are invited to a Christmas Sing-along at the Community United Methodist Church at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18.

You may attend and just listen, but everyone will be invited to sing along as the orchestra plays favorite Christmas carols and choruses from Handel's "Messiah."

The church will provide hymnals for singing the carols. Those who have sung the "Messiah" before and have the vocal score are asked to bring their own, but a few "Messiah" vocal scores will be available for use by those who do not have one. Anyone in the community who owns one of the vocal scores is urged to loan the score for use Dec. 18.

The orchestra has been rehearsing under the direction of Melinda Baum and will include Joy Redmon and Lisa Hartley, flutes; Sue Martin, oboe; Valley Lowrance, bassoon; D'Ann Artis, French horn; Don Weller and Larry Elginer, trumpets; Carol Pierce Phillips and Chris Baum, violins; and Melinda Baum, piano. Carroll Carruth will conduct the singing.

Admission is free, but a freewill offering will be accepted for the Samaritan's Purse/Operation Christmas Child program which is planning a special effort this year to distribute toys for girls and boys affected by recent hurricanes.

The "Messiah" is Handel's supreme achievement, and an epic in oratorio literature without a rival. Its writing came at a time when the composer's fortunes and spirits were at their lowest ebb. His last opera - "Deidamia," in 1741 - had been a fiasco. Handel needed no further proof that he was through as a composer for the stage. However, the oratorio - the medium that had begun to absorb his interest and energies since 1732 - still failed to win him back his audiences. Both "Saul" and "Israel in Egypt," in 1738, made little impression. It seemed that, even as an oratorio composer, Handel was rejected. Never before in his life had Handel's career plunged to such depths.

Then, in 1741, Handel was invited to Dublin by the city's Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Devonshire, and the directors of several charities. They wanted him to direct one of his compositions for charity. For this visit, Handel decided to write a new oratorio, utilizing a script prepared for him by Charles Jennens from the Scriptures.

Handel went to work with a dedication and a passion unique even for him. Aroused by religious ardor that had always smoldered deep within him, and inspired by an exaltation that was completely new, he wrote his music as if he were under some spell. The huge score took him only 25 days to complete. All the while he worked he refused to leave his house and frequently did without food or sleep. "He was," as Stefan Zweig described him in "Tides of Fortune," "as if intoxicated. When he marched up and down the room, beating time with his hand and singing at the top of his voice, his eyes looked distraught; if someone addressed him he started, and his answers were vague and disconnected. Š Time and space during these feverish days were obliterated as far as Handel was concerned; day and night he kept hard at his task, living wholly in the realm where rhythm and tone reigned supreme" He felt at one with the Maker. When he completed the "Hallelujah Chorus," he told his servant: "I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself." And when his giant task was over, and all his music was on paper, he remarked simply: "I think God has visited me."

(p. 141f, David Ewen, editor, "The complete Book of Classical Music," Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, Inc.)


Ed center to offer hospitality, computer courses

No need to drive to Farmington or Durango to take hospitality training courses.

Classes begin soon in Pagosa Springs and are limited to 20 students. Classes are free. Deadline to enroll for classes beginning in January is Dec. 30. Contact the Archuleta County Education Center to inquire about scheduling additional modules, or for more information on Skills, Tasks and Results Training (START) and the Southwest Colorado Workforce Training Initiative.

START was designed by the American Hotel and Lodging Association to provide students with the real-world knowledge and skills needed to begin a hospitality career. The program in Pagosa Springs will be divided into modules, and each module into specific units. Participants may enroll for the entire scheduled program, individual modules or specific units.

START classes are scheduled in Pagosa Springs Jan. 3 - May 18, 1:30-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Classes currently scheduled:

- Module 1: Guest Service, Professionalism, Safety and Security - Jan. 3-31.

- Module 2: Rooms Division, Front Desk, Reservations, PBX, Maintenance, Guestrooms - Feb. 1-April 13.

- Module 3: Food and Beverage Division, Restaurant Server/Bus Person, Banquet Setup/Server - April 18 - May 18.

Computer classes

Starting in January a new slate of computer classes will be offered at the education center. Beginning classes, as well as instruction in specific software applications, will be available. New computer class schedules will be available Jan. 3 at the education center offices at 4th and Lewis streets. Call for more information at 264-2835.

Work begins on 2006 Relay for Life

By Kathi DeClark

Special to the PREVIEW

Relay for Life is getting prepared for the 2006 campaign. Dick Babillis is the chairperson and I am the co-chair for this event.

The American Cancer Society has come up with an outline for success for these events. Babillis said when asked why he chose to participate this year: "The American Cancer Society is about finding a cure for cancer. I know we are not there yet. I lost a 32-year-old son and nearly lost a brother to the disease. By working with the Relay for Life, I can help speed up finding cures so that others, themselves or their loved ones, won't have to face the scourge of that disease."

Relay for Life is about making a difference. It is about having fun raising money, it is about competition, it is about community spirit, it is about working together to find a cure. Pagosa Springs can make a difference. We want this year's event to be the biggest and best ever.

Relay for Life begins June 16 and continues through the night. The continuous walk symbolizes that cancer never stops. We hope many community volunteers will step forward to form teams to raise money and help to find a cure.

When a Relay for Life Volunteer comes to your door asking for corporate or individual support won't you please open your hearts and your wallets?

If you are interested in helping with the organization of the event, the teamleaders are in place and need many worker bees to get this year's event set up. Won't you lend your time to this worthwhile cause?

Call Babillis at 731-9263 or me, at 731-9920, for more information.


Rosie O'Donnell Foundation waters Seeds

By Kate Collins

Staff Writer

The Seeds of Learning Family Center has been awarded a $7,000 grant to supplement operating costs by Rosie O'Donnell's For All Kids Foundation.

"She's in New Jersey," said Lynne Bridges, executive director of Seeds of Learning. "And she gave us this grant for our operating budget Š in little Pagosa!"

According to its Web site, the For All Kids Foundation believes that "every child is a gift, strengthening our community, our humanity, and our hope for the future. Every child deserves a safe environment, with responsive, loving care and enriching opportunities that build self-sufficiency and self-worth. Believing it is essential to provide for the fundamental needs of all children, [the foundation] recognizes nonprofit organizations as vital agents in the communities they serve."

The For All Kids Foundation receives 2,000 requests for financial assistance each year, and only 100 grants are awarded.

"I had to apply to apply," explained Bridges. "It was a pretty intense application process." The For All Kids Foundation reviews a letter of intent written by grant hopefuls, and approves only a percentage to send in a full application. "It was about a ten-month process," stated Bridges.

Seeds of Learning met the requirements for a For All Kids grant almost to a "T," as 65 percent of its students are from low-income families. The foundation seeks to financially shore up "nonprofit programs serving economically disadvantaged and at-risk children and their families. The foundation's main focus is center-based child care, and first priority is given to programs serving low-income, urban areas, where many families struggle to find quality child care and early childhood education programs," according to its Web site.

"We knew we were one of the finalists," said Bridges, "but grants were put on hold in October so the foundation could focus on relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina." On Dec. 5, Bridges received a letter from the executive director of For All Kids, Sandra Cobden, explaining that Seeds had been chosen as a grant recipient.

Bridges was told about the For All Kids Foundation nearly a year ago by Candace Rockensock, a mother of a Seeds student. "It was a very lengthy process," said Bridges. "They're very thorough, and I really had to do my homework."

The Seeds of Learning Family Center will be eligible to apply again one year from the date of receipt of the grant, in January 2007.

The grant from the For All Kids Foundation is for operating costs only, and cannot be used for the new facility that is on the drawing board for Seeds.

"We turned in our paperwork for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant last week," said Bridges, of the federally-funded program. "It's in Denver right now being evaluated, and we'll know within forty-five days if we got it." If the full amount is awarded to the Seeds of Learning Family Center, construction on the new building could begin as early as March 2006.

Seeds will continue to seek funds through a variety of fund-raisers. "We'll hold a 'Play in the Park' all-day event for kids and families along with a dinner in May," said Bridges, and "solicit individual contributions for the capital fund," as an additional $250,000 will be needed to pay for the new facility.


Local Chatter

'Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.'

By Kate Terry

PREVIEW Columnist

In September 1897, a young girl wrote a letter to the New York Sun.

The paper's answer that appeared as an editorial Sept. 21, entitled, "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus," has become a classic. It was written by Francis Pharcellus Church who worked for the paper as a writer specializing in theological and controversial subjects. Before going with the New York Sun, Church worked as a reporter for The New York Times during the Civil War.

"Dear Editor:

"I am 8 years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus. Pap says 'If you see it in the Sun it's so.' Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus? (signed) Virginia Hanlon."

"Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole truth and knowledge. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in the sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

"Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is not Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

"No Santa Claus! Thank God, he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now. Virginia, nay, ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

Mr. Church died in 1906. The New York Sun died in 1950. Mrs. Laura Virginia O'Hanlon Douglas died May 13, 1971. She had a doctorate degree from Fordham University and had a long and distinguished career as a teacher and administrator in the New York schools.

Shepherd's Staff

Bringing joy into one's life

By Donald A. Ford

Pastor, Community United Methodist Church

Joy is a human emotion, the same as love is. Joy is the opposite of fear, the same as love is the opposite of hate. We need joy in our lives. We need to have joy and feel joy. We need to be joyful. I wonder how much one's stress would be reduced if one's life was full of joy?

During this Christmas season, most know of the Christmas story as found in Luke. An angel appears before a group of shepherds and says: Do not be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy Š

Good news for all the people. As we look back on this occasion now, we know and believe that this was the greatest news possible to a hurting world.

A Messiah, the anointed one of God, the author of our salvation, our judge, jury and dispenser of justice, the one whose sacrifice forgave our transgressions against God and one another was the Good News that was born that night. And it was this Good News that would bring joy to all the people. This was the good news then and that is the Good News for us today.

We have an advantage over the shepherds; we know "the rest of the story." Put yourself back in those days. Your faith, being Jewish, having been told for centuries by prophets sent from God, that one will come who will correct all that is bad in the world. A Messiah who would restore the kingdom like it was in the time of David.

Why would the announcement be made to a bunch of shepherds and not in the halls of the palace or in the temple or in any of the other places of worship? It seems a strange place for the messenger of God to announce the Good News. Perhaps it was because the shepherds were in the most need of joy in their lives.

What happens if a person does not have joy in their life?

It just might be that one would seek joy from wherever one could find it. And there seems to be a lot of places to find it in today's world. I see it all the time and if you look around you would see it also. I see artificial joy found in some when they turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, money or something else. I am not saying that all who turn to these to bring joy to their lives, have them because of lack of joy in their life, but I am saying that lack of joy certainly contributes to their seeking artificial joy.

I have heard some say, "if I can just win the lottery, my life would be full of joy." As for drugs, the drug of choice in seeking instant joy in this town and a lot of towns, if not most town in this country today is, meth - methamphetamine.

This drug is readily available here and all over. It brings a person instant joy that lasts much longer than the former drug of choice. Whereas cocaine had a lasting time of instant joy for about 30 minutes, meth brings a joy that lasts 12-14 hours.

During this time, a person's energy level increases, sleep is not needed and a high level of productivity happens. It doesn't sound too bad does it? But once tried, the drug takes over everything else in one's life. It comes ahead of family, jobs, health, everything. The best mothers in the world become the least caring mothers when under the influence of meth.

A great percentage of child protection cases stem from a parent, especially a mother, who has gone from being a loving, caring mother to one who loves and cares for nothing but meth. In fact, 95-percent of the child protection cases in this county occur because of the use of meth by one or both of the parents.

One of the more recent cures for a meth habit, is to bring joy to one's life without the drug and therefore showing to the person that the drug is not needed to have joy.

The caseworker would afford opportunities for the mother to see her child happy and therefore bring joy back into the mother's or parent's life without the drug. The joy brought to a parent by a child being happy is much more natural and Godlike than joy achieved by artificial means. It is part of the created order that a parent is happy when the child is happy.

A simple thing like seeing the face of your child light up when opening a present on Christmas morning brings a joy to one's life that is truly not artificial.

The message from the messenger was one of great joy to all the people, including and not limited to the shepherds. It is this message that would or at least should, bring continued and lasting joy to our lives. It is this message that would or at least should, make the fear in our lives go away. It is this message that would or at least should, put to rest our fear of the unknown, the fear of the future.

I wonder if the shepherds had known that night what we know now, would they have been afraid? Perhaps the first words from the messenger would not have been do not be afraid, but your joy is now complete. Jesus says that very thing in John: "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete." (John 15:11) That was the good news bought by the messenger that night - your joy is now complete. You see, we can find eternal joy, complete joy, in the one whose birth we celebrate this season. With that joy, how can one be afraid?

Other words that can be used for joy are love, grace and faith. For all of these come from God and are products of God's love for us.

The question becomes how do we help bring our joy into other lives so that they may understand where our joy comes from and how that joy affects our lives? Perhaps we need to show them where real joy comes from, the same as the caseworkers are trying to show those who seek artificial joy through meth. The key word is show, not only tell. Would it mean much to a person on meth if someone tells them of ways to seek joy, or does it become more meaningful if the case worker shows them joy obtained from sources other than meth?

We can do that if we live with joy in our heart. We can do that by living the lifestyle that the joy of God brings us.

We can do that by including them in the joy we have of worshipping our God, the joy we have in celebrating His son's birthday, and the joy we share with one another. Perhaps by sharing our joy, they too can find joy. Perhaps they have had no real joy in their lives for so long, if at all, that they have forgotten what joy is.

Going back to John in the verse immediately following the one I quoted earlier, it says, "this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." In my way of thinking it means this: bring joy to one another as I have brought joy to you.

By doing this one's joy is complete. That is the joy of this season. Love came down and our joy was made complete. That was the message of the angel that night to the shepherds.

Community Center News

Buy tickets early for New Year's Eve dance

By Mercy Korsgren

PREVIEW Columnist

Preparations are in full swing for our New Year's Eve dance - no pun intended.

Siri Schuchardt, the volunteer coordinator for all the adult dances, has been busy making arrangements for tickets, publicity, food and decorations.

This Community Center event promises to be a truly special evening. The dance will start at 9:05 p.m. Dec. 31 and willend at 12:30 a.m. The cost for an individual is $15 and $25 for a couple.

Please remember that tickets must be purchased in advance and that the sale of tickets will end Dec. 30 at 5 p.m. Hors d'oeuvres and soft drinks will be available. This is a BYOB event; consequently, the dance is limited to adults who are 21 years old or older. Be prepared to show your ID if necessary.

Come join us for this wonderful evening of dancing, with music provided by John Graves and Company.

Beginning Yoga Class

The weekly yoga class meets in the south conference room of the community center every Thursday at 11 a.m. The hour-long session is led by Richard Harris. Please consider attending this free program; you can learn the benefits of the exercises, which are a part of the Hindu discipline aimed at spiritual insight and tranquility. Bring a towel or yoga mat and dress in comfortable clothes.

Call 264-4152 for more information.

Aus-Ger Club

The Austrian/German Club will meet at noon Thursday, Dec 22, at the Buffalo Inn, where the chef will prepare some German dishes for lunch.

There are no dues or set requirements for membership in this informational and social group. For example, there is no requirement that those who participate in the Club speak German. All those who are interested in Austria or Germany or the language and culture of those countries are welcome to attend.

Roger Behr, the new president, explained that members are interested in finding ways to locate others in the Pagosa community who may not currently know about the group, but would participate in club activities if they knew about them. There has also been interest in putting together a European trip to visit Austria and Germany. Please call Roger at 731-0409 for more information.

Mage Knight gamers

This group of young people (ages 11-17) has been meeting for several months on Friday afternoons.

All the participants share an interest in Mage Knight, a fast game of tabletop combat using Mage Knight miniature figures. Each player takes on the role of a powerful warlord: a king, a baron or a wizard who sends his or her troops out to do battle with opposing armies. The object of the games is to control the most battlefield objectives when the game ends.

Call Chris Jackson at 264-9154 for more information.

Computer lab news

(By Becky Herman)

Are you a little late getting your Christmas cards in the mail? During the Christmas computer class last week, all of us enjoyed looking at some samples of holiday e-cards. Even if you wouldn't make the choice to send e-cards, it's worth a quick look at some of them - they can be inspirational, beautiful, cute or clever, depending on the card's creator and style. One site we particularly liked was Take a few minutes to view some sample cards on this site, especially if you're a dog lover. Eight dollars by the way, will allow you to send unlimited cards for a year. In my estimation, this is a great bargain.

Another site we investigated during the Christmas computer class is I can't imagine how I missed this wonderful resource for such a long time. Now I'm making up for lost time. Ehow has instructions for doing thousands of things. Every month is visited by over 4 million people. Some things ehow explains are how to: tie a tie, change a tire, build a deck, kiss on a date, train your dog to heel, ollie on a skateboard, lose weight, negotiate a raise, throw a curveball, and many, many more. The instructions I sampled were tips on using Microsoft Access. All seven sets of instructions were clear, concise, and easy to follow. So if you are stuck with a problem and lack an answer, just might be the place for you. Check it out.

The newest technology acquisition to the office here at the Center is a fax/copier/scanner/printer. These do-everything machines are generally referred to as all-in-ones. We've been having fun figuring out all the wonderful things our new toy can do for us. For some time now, we have offered scanning as one of the services of the Computer Lab. But we now can do scanning tasks, which are somewhat more sophisticated. For example, we can scan a document at resolutions ranging from 75 to 600 dpi. This can be important depending on the use to which the scanned image will be put. Low resolution images are more easily and quickly sent via e-mail. But if you are going to manipulate your image file in one of the image editing programs, you will probably want to start with a higher resolution file. Our scanner can also grab an image for optical character recognition. OCR, as it's called, allows you to take text from a magazine or any piece of paper, convert that into a computer file and then edit that file using a word processing program. Think of the typing you won't have to do!

If you have questions about computer use, call me, 264-4152.

Center's hours

To further serve the community we have extended our hours of operation. We are open Mondays 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday 8-5:30; and Saturday 9-5:30. We encourage everyone, especially those interested in basketball, volleyball and computer use to take advantage of these new hours.

Do you have a special talent or hobby you would like to share - singing, dancing, arts and crafts, cooking, foreign language conversation group, coffee mornings, sports, etc.? We're looking for volunteers interested in forming interest groups. Call me with your ideas, 264-4152.

Activities this week

Today, Dec. 15 - Beginning yoga with Richard Harris, 11a.m.-noon; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; Town holiday party, 6-10 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 16 - Seniors' walking program, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; open basketball, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.; seniors' bridge club, 12:30-4 p.m.; Teen Center open, 2-8 p.m.; Mage Knight, 4-7 p.m.; Bar D Wrangler Show, 7-8 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 17 -- Teen center open, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wolf Creek Back Country, 6-10 p.m.; Teen Center dance, 7-11 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 18 - Church of Christ Sunday service, 9 a.m.-noon; Grace Evangelical Free Church service, 10 a.m.-noon; United Pentecostal Church service, 2-4 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 19 - Seniors' walking program, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; seniors' bridge club, 12:30-4 p.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; Teen Center program, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 20 - Seniors' walking program, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; computer Q & A with Becky, 1-4 p.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 21 - Pagosa Brats play group, 10 a.m.-noon; Wednesday bridge club, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Watercolor club, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; seniors' walking program, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; Church of Christ bible study, 7-8 p.m.

Need a place to have a party or meeting? We have very affordable rooms for small, mid-size and large groups. A catering kitchen is also available. Tables, chairs, a portable stage, a dance floor and audiovisual equipment are available, too. The center is located at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. Call 264-4152.

Senior News

Full holiday calendar at The Den

By Jeni Wiskofske

SUN Columnist

Happy holidays and ho ho ho! Egg nog and the mistletoe.

Join us to celebrate this holiday season, for the fun and friendship - which are the best reasons to celebrate. The Den will celebrate the holidays with a holiday party at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16.

Festivities will begin before lunch with a spread of appetizers such as cheese balls, crackers and other finger foods graciously provided by Seniors Inc. After lunch, we will have a "bring a gift, get a gift" holiday gift exchange. If you would like to participate in the gift exchange, all you have to do is buy a gift, wrap it, label it with the appropriate "male," "female" or "both" so everyone knows if your gift is gender specific, and place it under the tree.

Then, after all of our bellies are full, we will take turns visiting our lovely decorated tree and choosing a gift. (Remember, you have to bring a gift and place it under the tree to receive one.)

Santa Claus is also coming to town and making a stop at The Den to bring a little cheer to our holiday party. And, if that's not enough, we are honored to have John Graves on the piano, and vocalist June Marquez join us at The Den at 1 p.m. for sing-alongs to some of our favorite holiday songs.

So, whether you are interested in the appetizers, the gifts, Santa Claus, the holiday sing-along with John Graves, or just hanging out with your friends, The Den's holiday party is guaranteed to be fun for all. December 16 is also declared "Red and Green Day" so wear your holiday colors to add to the festivity of the party.

Help others - volunteer

The December holiday season is gearing up and with it comes many charitable projects filled with the spirit of giving. It is a wonderful time to support your neighbors and your community with volunteer service.

The Den is going to give back to our community by helping Operation Helping Hand at 10 a.m. today at the Extension Building at the fairgrounds. Operation Helping Hand distributes food, clothing and other items to those in need in our community over the holidays.

The Den will help sort clothing and other donations into "something old, something new" piles so the items can then be organized into gift packages.

Holiday party in Arboles

The Den will celebrate the holidays with a holiday party in Arboles at 11:30 a.m. today, Dec. 15. It is "Red and Green Day" so wear your holiday colors. Festivities will begin before lunch with a spread of appetizers graciously provided by Seniors Inc. After lunch, we will have a "bring a gift, get a gift" holiday gift exchange. Santa Claus is making a stop in Arboles to bring a little cheer. John Graves and June Marquez join us for sing-alongs to some of our favorite holiday songs. The holiday party is guaranteed to be fun for all, so join us for the festivities.

Portion sizes

The holiday season is here which usually includes lots of eating and eating lots.

"Clean your plate" was an admonition heard by many in their youth. Yet evidence is mounting that the larger portions placed on those plates is contributing to overeating, which leads to obesity. Portion sizes in restaurant foods, grocery products and recipes have increased in the past decade. "Living in the age of supersize meals and 'huge food,' studies shows that there is a great need for people to be more aware of what and how much food they are served," stated Barbara Rolls, Ph.D.

Here are a few tips to help yourself eat regular sized portions rather than overeating: 1) Use smaller plates and you will automatically take smaller portions. 2) Refrain from having second servings. 3) Eat slowly and give your stomach time to digest and send a message to your brain that it is full. 4) Remember that during the holidays, your eyes are bigger than your stomach. 5) And last but not least, try not to overeat with all of that delicious food this holiday season (yeah, right!).

Quodlibet Hand Bell Choir

The Quodlibet Hand Bell Choir from Community United Methodist Church will perform at The Den at 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19. The hand bell choir has been in existence for over 20 years. The choir is comprised of Lyn Constan, Berkey Branch, Barbara Preston, Liz Kuhn, Jody Hott and Raymond Taylor, with Beverly Arrendell on piano. Come listen to the bells chiming with holiday music as the Quodlibet Hand Bell Choir entertains us with their talent and the beautiful sounds of their hand bells.

Sky Ute Casino

Step into the action and play to have fun during our monthly trip to Sky Ute Casino Tuesday, Dec. 20. Free transportation leaves The Den at 1 p.m. returning approximately 5:45 p.m. A $5 coupon for a meal and a $2 coupon to play the slots provided by the casino makes it a hard bargain to pass up.

White Cane Society

The monthly meeting for folks with low vision and their supporters will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21. Gail from the SW Center for Independence leads this informative and helpful support group. For more information, call Gail at 259-1672.

Tis' the season

Fa La La La La,

La La La La ...

With all of our singing practice during December, it is time to take our voices on the road. The Den is going caroling for the holidays at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21. We will all load onto the senior bus for an afternoon of singing and fun.

We will begin by taking our talent to Pine Ridge Extended Care Center to bring a smile, then we'll visit a few folks who aren't able to get around so well anymore to add some merriment to their day, too.

Bruce Muirhead will be our lead vocalist, exhorting us to sing in tune (good luck, Bruce!). Sign up in The Den office by Tuesday, Dec. 20, to join us as we cruise the town singing holiday songs and bringing good cheer.

Free movie

Our movie at The Den at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23, is "Scrooged" rated PG-13.

A coldhearted TV exec (Bill Murray) is about to discover the true meaning of Christmas - the hard way. This wild, woolly spin on Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" has Murray visited by three high-spirited spirits. And while there are laughs aplenty, Murray's reformation and redemption are immensely powerful. Join us for free popcorn in the lounge and enjoy the hilarious supporting and loving cast of this modern Christmas classic.

Medicare appointments

Have questions regarding the new Medicare Drug Insurance plans? The Den can help.

Medicare Drug Insurance appointments can be scheduled at The Den on the following dates and times: Monday, Dec. 19, from 11 a.m.&emdash;1 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 20, from 9:30 a.m.-noon. Walk-ins without appointments will not be accepted. Call The Den at 264-2167 for an appointment. We'll answer your questions and help you choose a plan that best fits your needs.

Volunteers are needed at The Den to help enroll folks in the new Medicare Drug Insurance program. Training will be provided and computer skills are necessary. Call Musetta at 264-2167 if you are able to donate a few hours a week.

Activities at a glance

Thursday, Dec. 15 - Volunteering with Operation Helping Hand, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; holiday party in Arboles, 11:30 a.m.; $1 birthday lunch celebrations in Arboles.

Friday, Dec. 16 - Qi Gong, 10 a.m.; red and green day; holiday party at The Den, 11 a.m. with appetizers, a gift exchange, Santa Claus and John Graves on piano with holiday sing-alongs; Bridge 4 fun, 1 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 19 - Medicare Drug Insurance appointments, 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. (call 264-2167 to make an appointment); gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; Bridge 4 fun, 1 p.m.; hand bells holiday music, 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 20 - Gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; blood pressure checks, 11:30 a.m.; canasta, 1 p.m.; Sky Ute Casino, 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 21 - White Cane Society support group, 11 a.m.; holiday caroling, 1 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 23 - Qi Gong, 10 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; free movie, "Scrooged," rated PG-13 with popcorn, 1 p.m.; Bridge 4 fun, 1 p.m.


Suggested donation $2.50 for ages 60-plus, all others $4.50.

Salad bar every day - 11:30 a.m.

Thursday, Dec. 15 - Holiday lunch served in Arboles (reservations required by Tuesday, Dec. 13). Roast pork with gravy, mashed potatoes, broccoli spears, wheat bread, apricots, birthday cake; $1 birthday lunch celebrations.

Friday, Dec. 16 - Meatloaf with gravy, cheesy potatoes, green beans, pineapple tidbits.

Monday, Dec. 19 - Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, cauliflower veggie medley.

Tuesday, Dec. 20 - Tuna salad with tomatoes, whole wheat bread, spinach, plums, peanut butter cookie.

Wednesday, Dec. 21 - Pasta primavera, orange wedges, garlic bread, chocolate cake.

Friday, Dec. 23 - Holiday feast: roast turkey with gravy, whipped potatoes, veggie medley, raisin nut cup and vanilla pudding with bananas.

Veteran's Corner

Get rid of senseless bureaucracy

By Andy Fautheree

PREVIEW Columnist

Last week, I wrote about the waste of VA budget being spent on providing the same health care services as Medicare for our aging veterans. Hey, I'm one of those over 65 veterans too! VA and Medicare should work together and share information for Medicare and veteran eligible patients.

No reason for waste

I can see absolutely no reason to force 65-plus-year-old veterans (some of them 70-80 and older) to travel long distances to VA health care centers, mostly just to obtain VA mail-order prescriptions. I estimate seven out of 10 of my veterans fall into this category. It seems so simple, logical and cost effective to allow these aging veterans to see their Medicare primary health care providers and have those persons send the drug prescriptions to the VA Pharmacy program.

Too old to travel

What happens when they become so old they can no long physically travel to the VA facilities?

They will lose the benefit.

Most of our elderly World War II veterans are very nearly at this junction. Other veterans are in such poor health or financial condition that they cannot travel or afford the travel expense to VA health care facilities. The nearest VA outpatient clinic is a 120-mile round trip away. Albuquerque VAMC is 530 miles roundtrip. And, Albuquerque VAMC does not provide overnight accommodations or travel allowance for 99 percent of my veterans who are required to travel to that facility.

No rationale

If you are an 80-year-old WW II, 100-percent service-connected disabled veteran, Albuquerque VAMC will not pay for your travel or overnight accommodations, even for treatment for those service-connected disabilities, unless the veteran is basically below the poverty line, and then only for travel allowance, not overnight lodging.

Senseless Means Test

The other area that "chaps" my hide is the senseless and meaningless financial Means Tests the VA health care system requires. It is required that all veterans provide a Means Test if they are not 50 percent or more service-connected disabled. The Means Test is used to determine if the veteran needs to pay "co-pay" for prescriptions and services. Yet, most veterans already pay co-pays and readily agree to do so, and in fact originally checked off "agree to pay co-pays" on their enrollment application prior to Sept. 17, 2003.

Unnecessary information

Read this twice: If the veteran is already enrolled in the VA health care system the VA will not deny services for any of the information provided on the Means Test. However, if the veteran does not provide an annual Means Test he could be denied further services. In other words under current policy, the veteran is "grandfathered" in the VA health care system regardless of income. This is a total contradiction and therefore useless in the interest of the veterans.

Blank forms

Now comes the next really illogical VA bureaucracy. The VA health care system sends out the two to three pages of 1010-EZR forms each year to all these veterans for them to provide their annual Means Test. The forms are blank! This requires the veteran to fill in all of the same personal information year after year. As an example, the veteran's name, social security number, etc. is repeated two or three times on these forms.


This information is already in the VAHC systems. It would seem to be more logical to pre-print these forms from their database of information on the veteran, mail it to the veteran, and ask him to update anything that is not current. This is not rocket science, just basic, low-level technology that would be very cost effective and non-intrusive, especially on the same aging veterans described above.

Computer age

I personally fill out hundreds of these Means Tests every year for our Archuleta County veterans so they do not have to do it themselves. I have their original 1010EZ/1010EZR forms stored in my computer with all of their information, and it only takes a minute or two to update and fax the form to the VA. If a lowly little county veteran service officer can figure out how to do this so simply and easily, you would think the VA would be able to figure it out too. I am just about the only county VSO who does this for veterans on a routine basis that I know of, so that means all the other veterans all over the country have to do it themselves. They could number in the millions.

VAHC clogged

Furthermore, the VA health care system itself is clogged with all this mostly handwritten information it does not have time to enter into computers. If you don't believe me, try calling a VA Medical Center Benefits and Eligibility Department. They are way backlogged on data entry and it can often take several weeks just to enter the information to enroll or update a veteran's application. Meanwhile, the veteran may be in very poor health and need services right away. And that doesn't count the waiting time for an appointment after they are enrolled.

Jump through hoops

The burden should never be on the veteran to jump through the VA's hoops. It is time for some drastic changes in the VA. They need to get back to basics of providing service to our veterans without encumbering them with unnecessary red tape.

Write elected officials

If you agree with me, please write the VA, congressmen, and the president himself and express your concerns on these matters. If enough of us write or call, we will make ourselves heard. Their addresses are easily found on the Internet or at the local library. If necessary, copy this article and paste it into an e-mail to these officials. Ask your local veterans' organizations to take up the cause.


Don't forget to call or stop by my office with your VA health care appointments for the Share-A-Ride program. Help a fellow veteran who may be going in the same direction to the same VA facility. Give me a call if you can provide transportation or need transportation. I will keep a calendar of who is going where to coordinate this important program.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 400 South Camino Del Rio, Suite G, (next to Big 5 Sports). Phone number is 247-2214. Albuquerque VAMC phone number is (800) 465-8262.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans' benefits, 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 The office is open from 8 to 4, Monday through Thursday, Friday by appointment. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for registration with the county, application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.

Library News

Light comes to the world

By Christine Eleanor Anderson

PREVIEW Columnist

The library is celebrating light coming back to the world on Saturday, Dec. 17.

There will be readings of "Polar Express" in the Kid's Room at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The Pagosa Pretenders are performing for the whole family at noon. Lester and Hank Rivas are singing Spanish Christmas songs in the Great Room at 1:30. And the Mountain Harmony Singers are singing all kinds of interesting songs celebrating the season at 2 p.m. Goodies will be served from 1 p.m. on.

Whether you believe this season is a celebration of the light Jesus is bringing to mankind, the light of the menorah for Hanukkah, the light that will return after the winter solstice or the light that comes from Kwanzaa's focus on the family and responsibility, come and enjoy the day with us.

Myself, I could hardly keep from laughing out loud when I read Ellen Goodman's column last week, "O Druid tree, O Druid tree." She had a field day describing the entire country fighting out the battle of (or for) Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.

At Thanksgiving, I wrote of how glad we were to be rid of those nasty ancestors, the Puritans, but didn't realize that we also need to be glad to be rid of them again at Christmas. They banned mince pies, plum puddings and declared that celebrating Christmas was a criminal offense. Cotton Mather tiraded (Ellen assures us it was a famous lecture) against "mad mirth," "long-eating," hard drinking and reveling. You can be sure that St. Nick wasn't coming down any chimneys.

The impact of our original religious right was quite powerful and long lasting. Congress, notably lacking in courage even back then, didn't have the nerve to make Christmas a federal holiday until 1870. So, no, as usual, we haven't always done it this way. History is fascinating, isn't it?

If this isn't disconcerting enough, the Pope just announced that Christmas was being destroyed by commercialism. Myself, I'm with the Pope on this one. However, the entire American consumer economy is dependent upon the buying rush of the Christmas season. If dispensing with commercialism is going to bring the economy to a halt and the country crashing down, then let's just not get too analytical about the commercial problem. Santa Claus, you go guy!

Our little elves (aka the volunteers) came to the library this weekend and decorated their hearts out. This is the first Christmas tree I've ever seen festooned with library cards. Every faith and form of celebration are represented. I love it!

I wanted to know a bit more about the mystery of the history of how this celebration started and thought you might enjoy it also.

The word solstice comes from two Latin words: sol, meaning sun, and sistere, to cause to stand. The winter solstice, the shortest, darkest day of the year, is caused by the 23.5 degree tilt of the earth's axis. The lowest elevation of the sun in the sky in the northern hemisphere occurs Dec. 21. This was a time of fear for early humans who were afraid they would be left in permanent darkness and cold. When they could observe, by let us say Dec. 25, that the sun was going to start coming back for longer days, they celebrated the rebirth of life, reassured that the world was going to go on, and they would once again see summer solstice, the longest day of the year and, with it, the crops that would be sustained by the light of the sun, and would in turn, sustain human life.

In ancient Egypt, the god-man/savior Osiris died and was put in the tomb on the 21st of December. According to records, the priests emerged from the inner tomb at midnight, with the proclamation, "The Virgin has brought forth!" and showed the image of a baby to the worshipers. The Greeks had a winter solstice ritual called "Lenaea." The ancient one was really rough: a gang of women ate a man representing the harvest god Dionysos. In later times Dionysos was a reborn baby. Virtually every culture and civilization has had its own tale.

Some writing says that the date for celebrating the birth of Yeshua of Nazareth, Jesus Christ, was picked in the fourth century CE by the western church leaders. They selected Dec. 25 because it coincided with the day already recognized in the Roman Empire as the birthday of various Pagan gods. One of the reasons for the enormous success of Christianity has been its borrowing and building on old, widely accepted traditions. This borrowing of Pagan traditions, however, is the reason the Puritans and others tried to abolish Christmas. The English Parliament did abolish it in 1647. Some Christian churches still do not celebrate Christmas.

We are going to celebrate Christmas Š and everything else too. Come and join us in celebrating the joy of being on an earth where we trust that light, of all kinds, will prevail along with peace on earth and good will towards men.


Arts Line

The PSAC calendar, a perfect holiday gift

By Kayla Douglass

PREVIEW Columnis

This is the first year for a calendar produced by local artists with subject matter reflecting Pagosa Country.

Our 14-page full color calendar features images for the 12 months, as well as a cover image. Works featured are from local artists Bruce Andersen, J. D. Kurz, Jan Brookshier, Sabine Baeckman-Elge, Jeanine Malaney, Jeff Laydon, Ginnie Bartlett, Claire Goldrick, Barbara Rosner and Tom Lockhart.

The 2006 calendars are available through the Arts Council at a price of $9.95 plus tax for nonmembers and $8.95 plus tax for members. They make great Christmas gifts.

Don't forget the gallery is on winter hours. Feel free to call ahead and reserve copies to be picked up when we are open: Tuesday and Thursday 11-2. Calendars are also available at The Chamber of Commerce, Moonlight Books and Lantern Dancer.

The PSAC gallery gift shop also has local artist items for sale. Available items vary from cards or bookmarks for only a couple of dollars each to higher priced limited prints, woodworking, silk items, and more.

Gallery tour door prizes

As the winners of some very nice door prizes, these lucky people are still enjoying the glow from the Gala Gallery Walk.

Bruce Trenk is the owner of one of Norman Lansing's special pottery pieces donated by Rainbow Gifts. The Crucible had two winners: Terry Jackson and Ron Gustafson. Rosalind Marshall will be reading a signed copy of "People of the Moon," donated by Moonlight Books. A corn-husk angel from Handcrafted Interiors was won by Bernie Reinhardt. An original watercolor by Pat Black of Back Door Collectibles was won by Stu Capling. Marilyn Falvey will be wrapping herself in an afghan given by the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Gallery, and Wendy Hines, of Los Alamos, was the lucky recipient of a $50 gift certificate from Lantern Dancer Gallery and Gifts.

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council wishes to thank all the businesses that provided door prizes and congratulates the participants who were fortunate enough to have their names drawn. Many thanks again to the participating galleries and guest artists, and a special thanks to Marti Capling, PSAC's chairperson for the tour, for all her hard work and effort in coordinating this year's gallery walk.

Basics of watercolor

The Basics of Watercolor for Absolute Beginners is being offered by Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett, Jan. 11, 12 and 13 at the community center, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Bring your lunch. Cost for the workshop is $150 for PSAC members and $175 for nonmembers.

This is your opportunity to learn all of the things you wish you had been taught when you first started painting in watercolor. This workshop will cover brushes - their care and how to use them to make the marks you need to create your own painting; watercolor papers - what surface to use, what weight to buy; pigments - how to mix colors and properties of colors; and much more about each item of equipment.

Each day will begin with lessons and handouts on a given subject and the afternoon will be spent creating a painting utilizing the points from the morning's lesson, the overhead mirror and the follow-me format.

This workshop is for adults who have always wanted to try their hands at watercolor but were afraid to attend other workshops. It is a chance to learn to paint with others who are afraid they have no talent, or who have struggled to learn on their own with limited success.

Learn the basics, especially the things you need to know about materials and techniques to begin the process of creating your own works of art. With two instructors, there is plenty of individual attention and assistance.

This is the first of three workshops, with other offered later in the winter. This is the only workshop series Denny and Ginnie will teach in Pagosa during the next year. Basics II is scheduled Jan. 25-27 and Intermediate I is scheduled Feb. 8-10. For additional information on the content of the workshop you can call Ginnie at 731-2489 or Denny at 731-6113. Class size is limited, so sign up early at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council building in Town Park or call 264-5020. Don't forget the PSAC gallery is on winter hours, with limited personnel there Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. So leave a phone message if no one answers and we'll get back with you as soon as possible. Materials list will be available when you register.

PSAC workshops

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council sponsors and manages workshop in the arts and crafts space at the community center. From the outset, the Arts Council has been a partner and supporter of the community center.

We started the workshops in 2002 and they have grown substantially since that time. We service the arts in the community, and the community has responded favorably to this program. It gives those who want to teach a venue to do so and, at the same time, gives our residents a venue for learning something they have always been interested in - watercolor, acrylic, oil, drawing, drama, photography, etc. The space also provides a home for the photo and watercolor clubs and a meeting location for various other groups.

If you are interested in teaching a workshop or class, secure a workshop application form from the gallery in Town Park (264-5020) or download the form from our Web site, Pagosa-Arts.Com. If you are a resident and have ideas and suggestions for a class or workshop we haven't offered, please let us hear from you. The Arts Council mailing address is: P.O. Box 533, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147, or e-mail

Would evenings work better for you? To date, all of our workshops have been held during the day. We would like to know if there is a desire in the community for an evening workshop or series of classes. Perhaps 2 to 2 1/2 hours one evening a week, for six to eight weeks. If this is of interest to you, call PSAC at 264-5020 and leave your name and number. We'll touch base with you.

PSAC exhibits program

Applications are available to artists wanting to participate in the Pagosa Springs Arts Council's 2006 Exhibits Program.

From April through October, we present different exhibits for public viewing at the PSAC gallery in Town Park. Past exhibits have varied - from the high school art students, to jewelry, bronze, woodworking, photography, watercolor, oil painting, fabric art and a juried art exhibit.

Our exhibits committee will review portfolios by artists working in any medium. Selected artists will be scheduled for exhibits in the Town Park gallery in 2006. If you are interested or have further questions, contact PSAC at 264-5020 or download the exhibit forms from our Web site at Hurry ... the calendar is rapidly filling up for the 2006 season.

E-mail directory

We hope you have caught wind of all past, ongoing and future events either through snail mail or e-mail, or even through the grapevine.

We would like, though, to update our methods of contact as much as possible this year. Some of our mailing and e-mail addresses are invalid (mostly e-mail), and we would like to fix this as soon as possible to inform you of current and upcoming events. So, if you would, contact PSAC to update your information.

Gallery hours

The PSAC Gallery in Town Park is on winter hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Voice mail and e-mail are checked regularly, so please leave a message if no one is available in the office.

Local artists wanted

The Pine River Library (Bayfield) welcomes artists of all ages to display their artwork there. Painting, drawing, photography, fabric art, wall quilt, weaving, tapestry, jewelry, beadwork, sculpture, pottery, ceramics, woodwork, glass art, stained glass, metal art and silversmithing are welcome.

If you want to display your artwork, call Chrissy Moiseve at 884-2222. She will be happy to fax you an art display request form, discuss any of their requirements and answer questions you might have.

Artwork is displayed for two months. Work to be displayed January and February must be received no later than Dec. 22. Artwork displayed may be available for sale, and while the library staff is not involved in the sale of artwork, they will refer queries about the purchase of artwork to the artist. There is no fee charged to artists. This project encourages the artistic and cultural interest of the community by providing a showcase for local artists

PSAC calendar

All PSAC classes and workshops are held in the arts and craft space at the community center, unless otherwise noted.

All exhibits are shown at the PSAC Gallery in Town Park, unless otherwise noted.

Jan. 11 -13 - Beginning Watercolor, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., community center.

Jan. 25 - 27 - Beginner's II Watercolor, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., community center.

Feb. 1-3 - Beginner Oil Painting with Betty Slade, community center.

Feb. 8-10 - Intermediate Watercolor, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., community center.

Artsline is a communication vehicle of the Pagosa Springs Arts Council. For inclusion in Artsline, send information to PSAC by e-mail ( We would love to hear from you regarding suggestions for Artsline. Events in surrounding areas will be included when deemed of interest to our readers.

Food for Thought

Putting an end to holiday excess

By Karl Isberg

PREVIEW Columnist

C'mon, admit it; you know it's true.

The holiday gift-giving routine is way out of hand in most households. How often have you heard someone say it? How many times have you said it?

Outta hand.

I've believed this for a long time, I've talked about it again and again, made resolutions to change, but I've done nothing about it.

Every year, I've ranted and raved about the problem, but I've caved in to what is becoming the most annoying tradition I know. When the bets are down and it was time to throw the cards on the table, I' folded. And, when I refer to "cards," I mean credit cards.

This year is going to be different: I'm putting my foot down, I'm holding the line.

I'm putting an end to a hyperactive holiday, money-wise. This holiday season, there will be no guilt-riddled gift-buying orgy, no shopping spree, no attempt to purchase the love of the members of my immediate family with an overwhelming number of grossly overpriced, last-minute presents.

Further, there will be nothing for the legion of parasites used to receiving a holiday gift from Mr. Holiday Cheer. Anyone who is not a member of my immediate family is getting a phone call, a hearty "How ya doin'?" That's all. The only gifts this season will go to my wife, my two daughters and my granddaughter.

One gift per person.

No exceptions.

I am through being a pawn, shuffled across the economic game board by the insistent hand of American corporate culture. I refuse to be manipulated any longer.

As a result of my determination, I will not make a single trip to a store this season. I've ordered my gifts by phone or e-mail, from the comfort of home, after long and conservative deliberation. The deed is done, a fait accompli.

How did I know what to buy?

Easy: the same way I know everything else - by watching TV.

My technique was flawless. On my first foray, I waited for a weekend when Kathy was off to Denver and I settled in for a marathon effort. I opened a bottle of cabernet franc and kicked back in the big leather chair in the living room, armed with my remote and a note pad. My faithful, albeit occasionally leaky yellow Lab, Arnie, kept me company.

I stayed in front of the tube for eleven hours, reviewing the commercials, checking the shopping networks, appraising my options, taking notes, making the hard decisions.

I found a number of interesting items as I watched the touching "Crimes of Passion: She Woke Up Pregnant." Likewise, during "Mahogany," starring the often misunderstood Diana Ross. The commercial breaks interrupting "When Pilots Eject," produced a gold mine of commercial possibilities.

It was during a break in "The Oksana Baiul Story," that I discovered the Bracelet Showcase and stumbled on the Diamonique charm bracelet with a precious little shoe ornament.

It was a great start.

After my first adventure in the television market place, I spent more hours on other days watching television in search of the perfect gift for each of my sweeties. I stayed up well past midnight the last few nights, feverishly cruising the full spectrum of channels on my dish, making decisions based on an analysis of personal characteristics, situational needs and lifelong attractions. I assembled a minimum twelve potential selections for each member of the family, then agonized over each list in order to pare it to the finalist.

I did well, if I don't say so myself.

Take for example the replica Samurai sword letter opener set I purchased for Ivy. There are four titanium knockouts in the set, from three to nine inches in length, suitable for opening any package, with a blade guaranteed to stay relatively sharp for life (or 90 days, whichever comes first). When the topic is knives, the Japanese don't mess around. It's tradition for those folks, you know.

For Aurora Borealis, in recognition of her incredible sense of style and design, I selected a set of Instashelves. She can install these triangular beauties in any corner of the house using the expando pressure edges, and she can arrange them to suit the height of her knickknacks, should she ever acquire any knickknacks. As an added bonus, she can douse the lights in the room and click on the battery-powered shelf illuminators to produce a dramatic effect that will be the hit of any dinner party, if she ever has a dinner party. These are so much better than the Thomas Kincaid print I nearly bought for her, even though he is, after all, "the painter of light."

When it came time to pick a gift for my granddaughter Ipana, I hit a real bind. The "Best of Sponge Bob Square Pants" video was tempting, but after a sleepless night, I decided on something more educational, more practical: the rachet-driven wrench/screwdriver from the Slamco corporation of Indianapolis, Indiana. With subsidiaries in Guadalajara, Mexico. This astounding device can reach nuts and screws your ordinary screwdriver or wrench can't reach. With Ipana's tiny hands, the benefit will be magnified. She'll be able to repair just about anything. Little girls develop their minor motor skills quicker than little boys. Did you know that?

I bought the Sponge Bob video and kept it for myself. It's great: especially the episode where Sponge Bob and Squidbert start a restaurant. If you get a chance to see it, by all means do so. You'll laugh till you hurt.

For Kathy, after some profound teeth grinding, I rejected a video called "Darin's Dance Grooves" which would have allowed her to master all the latest steps as performed by our favorite pop stars like Britney Spears, in favor of the Cool Touch mini fryer. Avocado in color.

What a perfect gift idea! Kathy has been ragging me about throwing a get-together and what makes for a heartier or more memorable bit of fellowship than an evening huddled around a mini fryer? A basket full of cocktail weenies and jalapeno poppers, some fondue forks, and the party is on. A glass or two of a cheap Bordeaux and we're off to the races. We will be the talk of the town. Veritable social lions.

A lovely gal named Beth gave me some advice during her show on the Home and Garden channel. Beth solved my last problem: how to wrap the presents?

In a stroke of what can only be described as nearly mystical good luck, I learned neutral colors are the rage this year for gift wrap. What is more neutral than the pleasant nutty-brown color of a paper bag? And, what an incredible coincidence: I've got a stash of bags! Some of them with a minimum of print on the sides.

I realize the girls will be a bit miffed by my change in attitude and what it's produced. We'll get together and they'll huddle up and look at me expectantly, ready for the usual torrent of useless gifts they've grown accustomed to receiving.

When each learns she is to receive only one package I imagine the atmosphere in the room will be, oh, I don't know. . . nastier than a conference of Pashtun warlords discussing how to split the opium trade.

But, the tension will dissolve at dinner.

The question is what to serve when we gather to open our gifts. This will be crucial. The meal must match the occasion.

The ancient Greeks had a system wherein they matched foods with moods. Each food possessed certain taste and textural qualities which, in turn, corresponded with the "humors" ("humours," if you feel a need to be precious) of the diner. Provide the correct mix of qualities in the food and you engineer the intellectual and emotional responses of the eater.

Sounds good to me.

After an analysis of potential moods, ("humours" if you will), after asking myself how I want the girls to feel as they discover their gifts this year, I've settled on: Insentient.

The menu choices were obvious.

We'll start with a bracer: martinis, shaken, not stirred. Double up on the gin. Hold the vermouth. Hold the olive.

For our main course: filets of beef in a cognac sauce. Easy business: sear the seasoned filets in butter and oil over high heat and finish them off in a hot oven until medium rare. Take the filets from the pan and put them on a warm platter; tent the filets with foil. Hurl a jigger or so of cognac in the pan and set ablaze, burning off the alcohol, taking care not to set the hair on your arm or your eyebrows on fire. (If this does happen, however, I can assure you from personal experience that the kitchen sink spray is your best friend.) Add some beef stock, some cracked black pepper, a smidge of demi-glace and reduce. Plop in a teensy bit of stone ground mustard and a splash of heavy cream, reduce and finish by swirling in a few globs of unsalted butter. Serve in a boat. Use large straws to finish off the remaining sauce in the boat at meal's end.

Perhaps a glass or two of a stout cabernet with the entrée. Perhaps three. Maybe four.

Our vegetable side dish: cabbage with nutmeg, braised in wine. Plenty o' wine.

For dessert: pears poached in red wine. Plenty o' wine.

How about some rum cake? A touch of Gewurztraminer with the dessert should work out well and, of course, nothing beats a few belts of sauterne with the cheese course.

Nothing could top a toddy or two prior to unwrapping the gifts, huh? Providing no one keels into the holiday candles and starts a fire, it should be a rip-roaring, and meaningful, multi-cultural, hands-across-the-sea holiday celebration. For a change.

Everyone should enjoy their thoughtful gifts. And after each recipient has marveled at the authenticity of the occasion we can each down a snifter or two of brandy.

True, Ipana will have to find her own way to bed.

But, look at it this way: She'll be able to take it apart with her holiday gift.

Extension Viewpoints

Relieve holiday stress on the children

By Bill Nobles

PREVIEW Columnist

Not too long ago, residents of Colorado were asked to enter photos that represented the country way of life in a photo contest. This contest was sponsored by Colorado Farm Bureau Insurance.

The 2006 calendars are not in yet, but are being sold by local 4-H clubs and members as a fund-raiser. These calendars are $5 and the monies generated will go toward the 4-H member's club and to the 4-H Council. The front cover photograph just happens to be a scene here in Pagosa Springs. Give us a call at 264-5931 if you are interested in purchasing this calendar.

Red Books and seedling applications

The 2006 Integrated Resource Management Red Books are now available at the Extension Office for $5. Also, the 2006 Colorado Cooperators Application for Seedling Trees are available. If you have questions about seedlings, you can contact the Soil Conservation District (NRCS) at 731-3615.

Children and stressful holidays

Many things can make the holidays and other busy family times stressful for children.

Here are some ideas to help children remain calm and peaceful during times of celebration.

Loss of a routine is stressful for many children, most of whom prefer a regular schedule. For school-age children on vacation it can be even harder because they also lose contact with their friends. To help, have a list of suggested "things to do today" for the first few days of vacation or time away from the daily routine. You can mix useful tasks with fun tasks such as sorting out their toy/video box in the morning and having a friend over in the afternoon.

Too much activity

Holiday or family events that include many visitors and lots of activities can be too exciting, leaving children feeling unsettled and out of sorts. To help them, make up a calendar of the weeks around an upcoming holiday or family event. Let them help write or draw in the days when family or friends are coming and when other special activities are happening. Be sure to plan spaces between the exciting days for recovery time. Also, help children find a space in the house to be alone when they get tired or just want some time to themselves.

Present-mania is often a problem during the holidays and other celebrations. Children, especially young ones, can get overexcited thinking about all the gifts they might get. Children under 4 years of age are self-centered and do not yet have the concepts of giving or sharing. For children this age, it is valuable to help them make gifts for others. Handprint gifts are easy and popular for giving to relatives, especially grandparents. Placemats made using the fronts of old holiday or birthday cards and clear adhesive paper are also easy. Children also learn about giving by watching their parents. Set an example by giving to others out of generosity and love during the holidays and other times of the year.

Control "wish list"

Other things you can do to limit your children's "want" level include controlling viewing of television shows with endless toy ads. Limit trips to toy stores and the large discount stores. De-emphasize wish lists by setting a limit on the number of items a child can request for birthdays or holidays. Help kids understand that it is just a "wish list," not an "I-will-get-everything-on-this list." If a child receives too much, nothing seems important or satisfying.

Sometimes children away from home for a holiday or vacation will miss a relative or pet left behind. Missing an absent parent can be especially unsettling to children. Discuss with them who will and will not be at upcoming events. Let them know it is OK to feel sad when they miss someone. Encourage children to talk about their feelings and disappointments. Allow them to cry if they need to. Suggest sending a card to that special someone (including pets), even if they have already gone to heaven.

For children, holidays and family events are what parents make them. Do what you can to keep your children's stress level down and help them stay happy during busy times of the year. One way to do this is to monitor your own stress level and try to maintain an inner peace.

Build own sense of calm

This may seem overly simplistic, but doing the things that build your own sense of calm can help combat the stress that comes with holidays and other busy times of year. Peace is an inner state of alert calmness and vibrant tranquility. It is harmony with people and one's environment. True peace is the ability to accept, with composure, whatever challenges come our way. Inner peace carries with it a quiet feeling of power and energy. It is not at all like passivity or laziness.

- Look at what makes you feel peaceful - being with a good friend, listening to uplifting music, praying, meditating and so on. Whatever it is, bring more of it into your life.

- If you are rushing all the time, build more free space into your life. Kindly say no. Keep life simple. Let go of nonessentials. Do less and enjoy it more.

- Ease the way for others. Scatter kindness. Lend a helping hand. Spread cheerfulness.

- If possible, spend time in nature. Even brief moments can make a big difference.

- Spend no time worrying about the past or the future. Live fully in the here and now.

Sometimes a lack of peace is an inner call for forgiveness, a change in lifestyle or the healing of a relationship. Listen carefully and respectfully to the whisperings of your heart. Do what you can to make holidays and other family events meaningful and joyful for yourself and your children.

Check out our Web page at for calendar events and information.


Pagosa Lakes News

Appearances are deceiving: beware of thin ice

By Larry Lynch

Manager, Department of Property and Environment, Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association

The cold temperatures we experienced last week have put a somewhat solid layer of ice on portions of the four Pagosa lakes.

Ice thickness out on Lake Pagosa this past weekend was between four and six inches depending on where you were, and we did have several ice fishermen out on the lake. Those ice fishermen who were contacted were experienced anglers and tested the ice as they went out by drilling holes and, because of the ice's thickness, determined that it was safe. Only if you are knowledgeable and acutely aware of the thickness of the ice below would it be a good idea to be out there now.

Early winter weather conditions and newly-formed ice can create an appearance of solid ice, but looks can be deceiving. Both the association and the Archuleta County Sheriff's office receive phone calls from concerned homeowners when they see people out on the lakes this time of the year. We have to tell them that conditions are safe for experienced ice users who test the ice, but that children and inexperienced ice users should not be out there at this time.

We also have the issue of the open water areas created by the aerators. Those areas are certainly not safe to be around anytime.

We had a situation this past Monday morning: A longtime resident was out on Lake Forest squeezing in a morning skate before work. A concerned homeowner called the sheriff's dispatch office and a deputy was sent out to investigate. The deputy contacted the skater, then called the association office to get an update on ice conditions. We informed the deputy that ice conditions were good in that particular area for that type of use by experienced ice users, but that conditions in other areas may not be safe for others.

All four of the Pagosa Lakes are now posted with signs stating "Danger Thin Ice" at all general access locations. As long as you are a property owner in Pagosa Lakes you have the right to use the lakes and enjoy them. But, when you go out on the ice you are using the lakes at your own risk and you have been informed of the possibility of thin ice conditions via the posted signs, in the newsletter and in media notifications such as this. Be aware of conditions on the lakes before you venture out onto the frozen surfaces. Never assume that it is safe; check ice conditions by drilling test holes near the area you are planning to use. Ice augers can be purchased fairly inexpensively at most sporting goods stores and your safety and that of your family is certainly worth the expense. A good rule of thumb is that there needs to be at least six inches of solid, clear ice beneath you.

If you see a situation where you feel there is a safety issue on the lakes, such as unattended children, people too close to one of the open water aerator holes (within 75 feet), free-running dogs or pets or with any other safety-related concern, call dispatch at 264-2131 and someone will be sent to investigate.

If someone has fallen through the ice, call 911 immediately - do not attempt a rescue yourself. The fire department is equipped with an inflatable ice rescue boat, and the department can respond within minutes with properly equipped and trained personnel.

Be safe. If in doubt, don't go on the ice.


 Business News

Chamber News

From Pagosa to D'Iberville — a Christmas gift

By Mary Jo Coulehan

SUN Columnist

I can't even begin to express my feelings about the overwhelming support this community gave to the Katrina Relief Project for D'Iberville, Miss.

Goods of all kinds were donated. Some families chose to donate items to this project as their family Christmas present. The items collected will make many people much more comfortable and, hopefully, their holiday season will have a few less stresses.

This project would not have been possible without two major contributions. One was the generosity of Terry's Ace Hardware and the staff there. It was a great location to line up all our collection boxes, providing easy drop-off access. The staff was so very thoughtful and helpful, and the semi truck was parked there as well. Speaking of trucks, this project came together because of the other major donation from Yellow Freight - the truck and transportation of the merchandise. This piece of the puzzle was huge.

This project came together so quickly when the transportation was confirmed, and our community opened up its heart once again to help another community that is in need. When all is said and done, we will publicly thank all the businesses that gave so much to make this effort a reality: signs, boxes, money, merchandise, tools and more.

On Sunday, Dec. 18, three Pagosa volunteers will leave for Mississippi - Kim Moore, Helen Richardson and me. We will meet the truck Dec. 20 in D'Iberville and help them unload, organize and sort the items. We'll then meet with a number of town and organizational group leaders. Our town and I will set up funding sources from donations made by the town and other contributors for the victims to use when they are able to start reconstruction, so retail dollars can filter into their economy and they can continue to rebuild their economic base.

Of course, we will take photos and report back to our community. Hopefully, my last column of the year will be graced with the fruits of so many people's labors and I can report on the impact you have made on the lives of others.

While I'm on my community soap box, I ask that you don't forget the people of our own community, many of whom are also in need. We have our yearly Operation Helping Hands drive and there are trees all over town with specific items that are being requested. Some people here only see the challenges of our community; no community is without growing pains. But I see the generosity of people here every day, including work done by local volunteer organizations on this D'Iberville project. Thank you, everyone.

Parade of Lights

Once again, our small but festive Parade of Lights (held Dec. 9) was well attended by families and individuals ready to have a fun time out in the cold.

Children bundled up or snuggled up in warm blankets and watched the brightly lit floats or received candy from parade participants. Winning again this year in the Business category was an awesome float put together by the employees of The Springs Resort.

After overcoming some generator problems the float got on to the street and made it's run down San Juan and Pagosa streets. The float was decorated with Thomas the Train, a large lighted cross, Santa and other lights that highlighted the delightful and on-key carolers.

Coming in a close second was the Dogwood Cafe with their trees, inflatable Santa and a brightly lit float.

In the Organization category, the winning entry was the Children's Chorale, the float pulled by Dollar Rent A Car. Packed in the back of a brightly-lit vehicle and singing their hearts out, this group will also receive $100 as the winning organization. Coming in second in this category was the Archuleta County Fair Royalty. We would also like to thank CM Equipment and Kodiak Electric, and the Pagosa Fire Protection District with its built-in lighting for participating. I also want to thank the Pagosa Springs Police Department and Jim Miller with the town's parks and recreation department for allowing us to host this parade and working with us.

It is a beautiful time of the year, we enjoy the involvement of the community and we want to highlight the charm of our town. Stay tuned for next year's activities.

Enjoy more activities

On Sunday, Dec. 18, the Community United Methodist Church will again host its Christmas Sing-along. Singing starts at 3 p.m. and you can listen or join in with favorite Christmas carols or choruses from Handel's "Messiah." There will be a small orchestra with flutes, oboe, bassoon, French horn, trumpets, violins and piano. The admission is free, but a free-will offering will be accepted for the Samaritan's Purse/Operation Christmas Child program which is planning a special effort this year to distribute toys for girls and boys affected by recent hurricanes. Enjoy this beautiful community sing-along.

Back by popular demand, Slices of Nature will host its annual Christmas party 10-5 p.m Saturday, Dec. 17. Mrs. Claus will arrive at 10 a.m. and stay until noon. There will be hot chocolate, cookies and a 10-percent storewide discount. You also have the chance to pull a ticket that gives you a 30 to 50-percent discount off one item purchased. So, fit this into your last-minute shopping plans and stop at one of our local stores to take advantage of their great merchandise and sales.

Pagosa Perks

Thank you to all the participants so far who have purchased Pagosa Perks to give to employees and friends.

Remember, these checks spend just like a traveler's check and are accepted by any Chamber member business. The business deposits the check with its regular deposit.

The receiver gets to utilize the check where and when they see fit. This is the beauty of Pagosa Perks: Your purchase and shopping dollars stay here in Pagosa and you get the gift of choice. Maybe you'll treat the family or yourself to a nice lunch or dinner, or enjoy a massage or spa treatment, maybe pay the electric or water bill with Perks. Maybe filling up the gas tank and going somewhere is your preference. Whatever your choice, enjoy this versatile gift option we offer at the Chamber of Commerce. Perks come in $10 or $20 denominations and they are available year-round. A gift certificate to a specific place may be nice but not what the recipient wanted, but you can't go wrong giving Pagosa Perks.

Forms are rolling

The forms are starting to roll into the Chamber for Volunteer and Citizen of the Year awards. We have the forms here at the Chamber and they were also included in the latest newsletter.

Please take a few moments to fill out a form and drop it off or fax it to us here at the Chamber. Forms need to be in by Jan. 9.

There are many deserving people in our community; let's take a moment to honor their generosity. Awards will be given out at the annual Chamber meeting to be held Saturday, Jan. 21. We also have ballots ready for the election of new board members for the Chamber of Commerce. You can vote for up to three of the six candidates on the ballot form. Voting for new board members will take place up to and including the night of the annual meeting. Remember, there is only one vote per membership.

Profiles of the candidates were in the last newsletter and they will be printed in The Sun soon. These board candidates are a good representation of our community and all nominees would serve the community well. Only three can be elected, so exercise your right to vote.


One new member and eight renewals this week.

New member Wilderness Trails Ranch from Durango comes on board. Wilderness Trails Ranch is a premier dude ranch offering a blend of the past and present. This dude ranch is perfect for families, singles or couples. There is a heated pool, a hot tub, rafting, waterskiing and horseback riding available as well as teen and kids' programs. For more information, call 247-0722 or check out their Web site at If you want to get out of town, do so and still support a local Chamber member.

Our first renewal on the list this week is Clarion Mortgage, with Jody McAlister Cromwell and Sharon Crump.

Maggie Dix-Caruso and Envelopment Architecture renews this week as does Bob Scott with Edward Jones.

Staying on the west side of town with renewals, we welcome back The Econo Lodge hotel.

Still on the west side of town, we have Peak Physical Therapy as a renewal.

Access Pagosa also renews this week.

As it celebrates new and improved facilities, we welcome back the Ruby Sisson Memorial Library.

Lastly, we welcome back KZRM radio, the voice of radio in the Chama Valley.

Thank you again Pagosa for your support of the D'Iberville project, for coming out to the Parade of Lights and for providing all the other holiday activities that have taken place so far in the community. Continue to enjoy this wonderful season.



Cards of Thanks


Cub Scouts

Cub Scouts from Pack 807 have completed their popcorn fund-raiser and would like to thank everybody in the community who supported a scout by purchasing popcorn. This fund-raiser pays for the supplies, badges, awards, necessary equipment, scholarships for needy scouting families and at least 50 percent of the fees for any scout to attend summer camp.

Additionally, we would like to thank both City Market stores, Ponderosa Do-It-Best, Ace Hardware, the Junction Restaurant and many churches for allowing the scouts to set up a booth and sell popcorn products at those locations.

The final total sales is over $25,000 which will result in over $5,000 being retained for the local pack. Again, thanks to this community for helping Pack 807 establish and expand Cub Scout programs.

Lisa Scott, cub master

Lori Manzanaras, popcorn chairman


Durango Nature Studies

During this holiday season, the staff and board of Durango Nature Studies would like to give thanks to our volunteers. The following volunteer naturalists guided 370 Pagosa Elementary second-, third- and fourth-grade students on nature walks this fall on the Four Mile Ranch through our Children Discovering Nature program: Bradley Burton, Jim Cole, Barry Ebersol, Sky Gable, Linda Newberry, Joyce Ramberg, Joan Slavinski, Kathy Steventon, Phyllis Wheaton and Michael and Mely Whiting.

These outstanding volunteers contributed over 221 hours of volunteer time to this program.

Additionally, we could have not brought this wonderful outdoor learning opportunity to Pagosa were it not for the gracious support of Terese Hershey, the staff and students of Pagosa Elementary, and the tireless efforts of Alan and Joyce Farrow.

Thank you all for helping us bring hands-on outdoor science education to the students of Pagosa Springs. You help us make our community a better place every day.

Jennifer Kleffner



We would like to thank the people who helped us when we pulled the lady out of the lake. We have a gray sweater coat and a fleece blanket. You could call to pick these items up at 264-2546.

Thank you so much for all your help.

Sophie Jacobson and Danny Moats


Arts Council

The Pagosa Springs Art Council expresses it's deep appreciation to the following galleries who opened their doors for the third annual Gala Gallery Walk Friday, Dec. 2: Rocky Mountain Wildlife Gallery, Lantern Dancer Gallery and Gifts, Back Door Collectibles, Soledad's Studio and Gallery, Handcrafted Interiors, Puttin' on the Rydz, Moonlight Books, The Crucible, Pagosa Photography, Wild Spirit Gallery, Rainbow Gifts, and Taminah Frame Center. Special thanks go to the guest artists who were available for the evening at various galleries. It was evident by the lively crowd of participants that a good time was had by all.


Teachers and students

The first-grade teachers and students at Pagosa Springs Elementary School would like to thank the following neighborhood businesses and community workers for providing us with a hands-on learning experience in helping us learn all about our "Community at Work": Tammy Neulieb at City Market, David Cdebaca at Wells Fargo Bank, Lt. Meghan Macht at the Pagosa Fire Protection District, Andy Gonzalez at the U.S. Post Office, Sgt. Brammer and Lt. Martinez at the Archuleta County Sheriff's Department, Will Spears at KWUF Radio Station, and Junior Lister at Pagosa Springs Town Hall.


Carolyn Riedberger, Debbie Moore, Phil Rizzo


Music Boosters

A hearty and warm thanks to everyone who poured their hearts, time and talents into this year's "A Christmas Carol" production. We involved over 100 community members who worked for almost eight weeks as musicians, performers, crew, set builders, technicians, ushers, bakers, seamstresses, directors - whew!! Your work and dedication are enormously important in supporting Pagosa Springs Music Boosters as they continue their service and give back to our students, schools and town. We will remember always the voices and music of "Londontown."

Dale Morris


Gurule family

Members of the family of John T. Gurule would like express their sincere gratitude to all the caring people, family and friends who supported us during our stay at the hospital and the loving support during our loss. We thank you for all the cards, flowers, phone calls, visits, thoughts and prayers, monetary gifts and food donations.

A special thank you goes out to the EMTs, Pagosa Springs Family Medicine Center, Mercy Medical Staff, Guadalupanas Society, Town of Pagosa Springs Police Department, Colorado Mounted Rangers and The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

May memories take some of the sadness from your heart and gently replace it with the warmth of shared moments from our family to yours and promise of peace to come.

Dolores Eduvigen Gurule and Family



The Archuleta County Education Center's Youth-to-Work students and coordinator would like to thank the following for their gracious contributions to our fund-raiser helping hurricane victims: The community center, ALCO, City Market, Copper Coin Discount Liquor, Jackisch Drugs, Malt Shoppe, The Springs, Getaway, Hog's Breath, Victoria's Parlor, DSP Pizza, Domino's, McDonald's, Subway, KFC, Sonic, Pagosa Candy Co., Silver Dollar Liquor, Giant Gas, and the Fina Store. You made a big difference; thank you.


Casa de los Arcos

Thank you from Casa de los Arcos to the following people and organizations for their generous donations: Jack Holland of the Coyote Hill Lodge for the delicious Thanksgiving meal for all of our tenants and to Jack's innkeeper, Gina, for making all the arrangements for this meal; Becky Anderson, our new next door neighbor, for donating her valuable time on Thanksgiving day to assist with serving the meal and cleaning up afterwards; Loaves and Fishes, as always, for the delicious lunches and the leftovers; Caroline Colie, Todd and Kaitlin Webster of the San Juan Jug Band for entertaining us with their wonderful music at our Thursday get-together.

Sincere thanks and happy holidays from Casa manager, Molly Johnson, and all the Casa residents.



Seeds of Learning would like to give a great big thank you to Jim Smith and Do Engelhardt. Our Web site,, is beautiful and has a wonderful new facelift. Thanks Jim and Do for donating your time, treasure and talents. The new and improved Seeds of Learning Web site is awesome.

Lynne Bridges


Sports Page

Pirates first at Buena Vista, head for the Warrior

By Karl Isberg

Staff Writer

Tourney champs.

The Pirate wrestling team went into a higher gear last weekend at the Buena Vista Duals, won five matches and left town the tournament champions.

The Buena Vista tournament began with preliminary action in two five-team pools. The Pirates found themselves matched against St. Mary's of Colorado Springs, Glenwood Springs, the host Demons and Del Norte. They all went down, in short order.

In the first dual of the day, against St. Mary's, the Pirates came out on top, 55-22.

Action began at 130 pounds where Pagosa's Joe DuCharme put points on the Pirates' side of the scoreboard with a 12-7 decision. St. Mary's then forfeited at 135 and 140.

Ky Smith had a tremendous weekend at Rocky Ford a week before and the senior didn't miss a beat, starting his Buena Vista tourney with a pin in the first round at 145. St. Mary's then forfeited through 189.

Joe Romine resumed the winning ways with a first-period pin at 275. The Pirates lost three straight matches, but Josh Nelson retook the momentum for Pagosa at dual's end with a first-period pin at 125.

Class 4A Glenwood Springs was next for Pagosa and the Pirates captured a 62-16 victory.

Ky Smith managed his second pin of the tournament, getting the fall in the first round at 145.

Justin Moore earned points for Pagosa at 152 with a 16-5 decision and Matt Nobles, in his first tournament action of the day scored at 160 with a 13-5 decision.

Senior Reynaldo Palmer saw action at 189, winning with a second-period pin. Glenwood forfeited at 215 and Romine nailed his second fall of the day in the second period of his 275-pound match.

Steven Smith scored his first points of the tournament at 103, getting a pin in the second period. Caleb Pringle pinned his man at 119 in the second period. Following two Glenwood forfeits, Michael Smith ended the dual with a first-period pin at 135.

The host team was next up in the pool, and the Pirates dispatched the Demons, 72-12.

The match began at 145 and Ky Smith again demolished his opponent, scoring with a fall a mere 15 seconds into the first period. Two Demon forfeits followed before Eric Hurd got his first win of the day for the Pirates, scoring a first-period pin at 171. Palmer followed suit, pinning his man in the second period at 189.

It was the start of a pin parade for the Pirates. J.D. Holloman, a junior transfer from Washington, got his first victory in a Pirate singlet at 215, pinning his man in the first period. Romine continued to roll at 275, scoring with a first-period pin.

Steven Smith duplicated his earlier feat, pinning his opponent at 103 in the second period. Travis Moore put his opponent's shoulders down in the first period at 112.

Josh Nelson scored with a second-period pin at 125 and DuCharme nailed a fall at 130 in the third period after trailing in a tough match

The Pirates finished preliminary action, duplicating their Buena Vista score, 72-12, against a sadly depleted Del Norte squad. The Tigers forfeited 11 matches to Pagosa. Ky Smith scored the only earned points, getting a fall at 145 in the first period.

The 4-0 record in the first round took the Pirates to the championship dual against a familiar foe, Class 3A Florence - a team Pagosa had seen the week before at the Rocky Ford Duals.

When the dust settled, the Pirates had the victory and the tourney title, 48-33.

The Huskies forfeited at 171 to start the match. Following a loss at 189, the Pirates came back strong as Holloman put big points on the board with a first-period pin at 215. Romine followed up with a second-period pin at 275, completing a formidable tournament performance for the senior.

Florence forfeited at 103, then took four straight matches, going ahead in the scoring after the 130-pound bout.

Mike Smith tipped the scale back to Pagosa's side with a second-period pin at 135, but a loss at 140 had Pagosa down 33-30 heading to the last three matches.

All three belonged to the Pirates.

Ky Smith finished a spectacular tournament, scoring with a first-period pin at 145. Justin Moore nailed his man in the first round at 152. Nobles came up big at 160, getting maximum points with a second-period pin.

"I was thinking this is where it should happen if we're going to win," said Pirate Coach Dan Janowsky. "These were our veterans. They have the experience."

Good call.

While Janowsky singled out the senior veterans, he was also mindful of the role played by many of his young wrestlers.

"Our guys wrestled well," he said. "The thing that made the win more gratifying was that some of our seniors were missing (Orion Sandoval, who was taking an exam, and Bubba Martinez, who was injured). I put in J.D. Holloman and I put Caleb Pringle in place of Josh Nelson at 119, moving Nelson up to fill Sandoval's place at 125. They all did a good job. We have a good mix, and our veterans are doing well, showing good leadership."

It's early, but the coach is pleased thus far with the team's progress.

"We're clearly a better-than-average team," he said. "The question is what will happen when we wrestle top teams. We haven't assembled our best lineup yet, but the guys who are in there are doing an awesome job; what some lack in experience, they make up for with pure scrap. That's what any coach wants to see. They're wrestling aggressive, especially now some of our young ones are over their freshman jitters."

The Pirates will get a chance to test themselves against some of the top teams this weekend, as the team travels to Grand Junction for the vaunted Warrior Classic - traditionally one of the best regular-season tournaments in the region.

"This week," said Janowsky, "we got our feet wet, Now we get to test ourselves against the best teams we can find. We might take some lumps, but we will improve. I expect some of our guys to win some matches; our seniors are good enough to contend for medals. This is a very tough tournament and we'll get a look at some of the teams we'll face at the state tournament."

Action at the Warrior begins Friday at 11 a.m.


Lady Pirates open Classic with third straight win

By Randy Johnson

Staff Writer

The Lady Pirates varsity basketball team improved to 3-0 with an opening-round win in the Wolf Creek Classic. The Pirates defeated the Gunnison Lady Cowboys 49-31 in the first game of a three game tournament.

The Cowboys, previously undefeated, dropped to 3-1.

For the third straight game Pagosa came out strong to build a substantial lead in the first quarter over their opponent. Led by seniors Liza Kelley, Kari Beth Faber, Emily Buikema and Caitlin Forrest along with junior Jessica Lynch, the Lady Pirates dominated both ends of the floor to go up 19-4 at the end of one.

Kelley led all scorers with 16. Lynch followed with 12, Buikema with nine, Forrest with seven and sophomore Tamara Gayhart had four. Lynch and Faber led the Pirates with five and four assists, respectively.

The Lady Cowboys started seniors Jessica Fairless, Julie Wattier, Lisa Goldman and Stephanie Henkel along with junior Ali Browder. Henkel led the visitors with 14 points.

Unfortunately, for the third straight game, the Pirates would get into foul trouble early and let the opponent stay in the game at the foul line, at least during the first half. Coach Bob Lynch must have made some strong adjustments during the intermission as his team cut the number of fouls to three in the entire second half. Both Faber and Forrest ended with four fouls each.

According to the coach, his team "came out strong again in the first quarter and Gunnison had to play catch up the rest of the evening. We did have some trouble with our fouls and foul shooting, but were never really in any danger. Gunnison is a good team and was undefeated before tonight, and our girls played a good game.'

The Pirates scored on the opening tipoff and never relinquished the lead. Pagosa would build a 17-4 lead on buckets by Kelley, Lynch and Forrest. A fast-break steal by Kelley put the home team up by 15 to end the first quarter.

The Pirates went on a cold streak in the second period. The Lady Cowboys would use a 9-0 run to close the gap to five points with just over four minutes remaining. Buikema would score the only Pirates' points in the quarter that ended at 23-14.

Pagosa came out strong in the third period. Lynch hit a three and started a 10-4 run that put her team back on top by ten with just over four minutes showing. Four free throws by Lynch and two scores by the Cowboy's Henkel put the score at 36-26 at the end of three.

The score went 43-29 late in the final stanza when the Pirates used their trapping defense to hold Gunnison to three points in the last three minutes of play. The Cowboys shifted into foul mode to try and reduce the deficit while saving time on the clock. Both Kelley and Lynch hit both ends of one-on-ones to end the game.


Gunnison - 4, 10, 12, 5-31

Pagosa Springs - 19, 4, 13, 13-49

Scoring: Lynch, 1-3,1-4,7-8,12; Mackey, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; Kelley, 3-10,1-3,7-8,16; Harris, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; Canty, 0-0,0-0,1-2,1; Faber, 0-4,0-0,0-0,0; Buikema, 4-5,0-0,1-1,9; Gayhart, 1-2,0-0,2-3,4; Rand, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; DuCharme, 0-0,0-0,0-1,0; Forest, 2-2,0-0,3-4,7. Rebounds: Lynch 2, Lyndsey 2, Kelley 2, Faber 4, Buikema 4, Gayhart 2, Forrest 6.


Lady Pirates lose heartbreaker to Montezuma-Cortez

By Randy Johnson

Staff Writer

Natalie Johnson, a 6-1 senior playing at the post position, hit a short jumper in the paint with just over eight seconds on the game clock to give the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers a hard-fought 46-44 win over the Lady Pirates in the second round of the Wolf Creek Classic Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers improved to 2-1 on the season after their earlier defeat to Aztec in Friday night's first-round action. The loss put Pagosa at 3-1.

The Pirates left their typical first-quarter, hot-shooting hands at home and the Panthers played tight to take the early lead. Pagosa scored only seven points in the period and nine in the second period to go down by 10 at the intermission. The Lady Pirates would wait until the final eight minutes of the game to make a big run, but it would fall heartbreakingly short.

Coach Bob Lynch stayed with his tried-and-true rotation of seniors - Liza Kelley, Kari Beth Faber, Emily Buikema and Caitlin Forrest - along with junior Jessica Lynch. Kelley continued to play on a gimpy knee she hurt in fall volleyball action.

Panthers coach Mike Glover answered with Johnson and 5-8 senior Ronica Stanley, 6-0 junior Megan Hanson, 5-6 junior Sarah Chappell and 5-8 sophomore Alyssa Franchini.

For the Pirates, Kelley and Forrest shared scoring honors with 11 points, followed by Lynch and Buikema with seven, Faber with five, junior Kristen DuCharme with two and junior Lyndsey Mackey with one point. Kelley fouled out with just under a minute left in the contest. Lynch and Faber led Pagosa with four assists each.

The Panthers' Johnson led all scorers with 15; Hanson canned 13 and senior Daphine Shorty put up nine coming off the bench.

Coach Lynch indicated: "This was the first time we had to play catch-up this season. We came out shooting poorly in the first half with only sixteen points. We played a much better second half, but came up just short. Realistically, the game could have gone either way.'

Lynch added, "This could be a real learning experience for our team. We can use it to get better and we'll see how the girls respond in the final game against Aztec."

Both teams opened the game slow. The Pirates would only show four points on the board with 1:31 remaining in the first period. A jumper by Forrest and a Mackey free throw left the Panthers in front 11-7 at the end of one. Hanson and Franchini led the Panthers with four points each.

With just over four minutes remaining in the first half, the Panthers would use a 10-3 run to build the 10-point lead at intermission. Pagosa could not seem to find an answer for Johnson who hit for six in the paint.

The Pirates bounced back in the third quarter to double their first-half output. A three by Lynch and buckets by Kelley and Buikema reduced the Panthers' lead to six with just over three minutes remaining. The Panthers fought back and built the lead back to eight, mostly from the charity stripe. Pagosa fouls put Cortez in the bonus situation to end the quarter.

At the 4:31 mark, the Pirates found themselves back in the game, down by just three, then took the lead for the first time on two inside shots by Buikema. The Panthers' Johnson picked up her fourth foul and it looked like Pagosa had finally taken control. Both teams traded turnovers but, in the end, it was the team with the last possession that got the win.


Montezuma-Cortez - 11, 15, 14, 6-46

Pagosa Springs - 7, 9, 16, 12-44

Scoring: Lynch, 2-5,1-15,0-0,7; Mackey, 0-0,0-0,1-2,1; Kelley, 5-11,0-1,1-2,11; Canty, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; Faber, 2-5,0-0,1-4,5; Buikema, 2-7,0-0,3-4,7; Gayhart, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; DuCharme, 1-3,0-0,0-0,2; Forest, 5-10,0-0,1-2,11. Rebounds: Lynch 2, Mackey 1, Kelley 6, Canty 1, Faber 3, Buikema 5, Gayhart 3, DuCharme 2, Forrest 6.


Pagosa gymnasts fare well in state competition

By Jennifer Martin

Special to The SUN

After a successful season last spring, Pagosa gymnasts decided to compete in the nationally-sanctioned USA Gymnastics league this fall.

The conclusion of the season took place Dec. 3-4 at the state competition at Jet Gymnastics in Denver. Over 250 gymnasts competed, representing 35 Colorado Teams.

Pagosa qualified five gymnasts for state competition: Casey Crow, Danielle Pajak, Gabrielle Pajak, Toni Stoll and Re'ahna Ray.

Crow and Danielle Pajak both made it to the award stand and received medals.

Crow placed sixth in vault with an 8.95, 13th on beam with an 8.55 and 13th in the all-around with a 34.875.

Pajak placed 15th on bars with an 8.90.

Both girls competed in the 12-plus age division with 61 gymnasts in their group.

Out of the nine teams having only two girls in the senior age division, Crow and Pajak placed third.

Competing in this league is like pairing up a 2A school with 4A schools. Many Denver teams have over 800 students in their programs, to Pagosa's 100. It is an accomplishment Pagosa's gymnasts are able to qualify for the state championships, much less bring home medals.

Pagosa gymnasts will compete again this spring in the Eagles League.


Lady Pirates bounce back to win Classic

By Randy Johnson

Staff Writer

Pagosa coach Bob Lynch was concerned how his Lady Pirates would react after their first loss of the young season to Montezuma-Cortez Saturday afternoon, having to come back and face the New Mexico 4A Aztec Tigers that night in the final. The Tigers had beaten Cortez earlier in the classic and have been a nemesis to the Pirates in years past.

No problem.

The Lady Pirates (4-1) bounced back strong in the nightcap to hand the Tigers (2-1) their first defeat this season by a score of 51-41, and win the Wolf Creek Classic. Two other teams, Aztec and Cortez, had identical tournament records at 2-1, but the Pirates won the trophy on a tie-breaker point system.

Guards Liza Kelley and Jessica Lynch were named to the all-tournament team for their play in the three-game series.

Lynch's other starters - Kari Beth Faber, Emily Buikema and Caitlin Forrest - also played well in a tough tourney schedule that saw Pagosa play three games in two days.

Tigers' coach Chelsea Means started with 6-2 junior Rayla Doty, 5-9 senior Aspen Selby, 5-8 sophomore Heather Jacques, 5-6 junior Patricia Malouff and 5-4 senior Elissia Azellano. Malouff has been a standout on the Aztec track team and it showed on the basketball court with her speed.

The Pirates started this one a bit stale and had to fight back to take the lead by two at the end of the first quarter. By half time all the cobwebs were gone and the Lady Pirates were up by 10. The Lady Tigers would make a game of it in the second half by coming within seven, but Pagosa would not be denied and won going away.

Kelley led all scores with 17 points, her fifth straight game to score in double figures. Lynch followed with 10, Buikema with nine, Faber with seven, Forrest with six and junior Lyndsey Mackey banked in two.

For the Tigers, Doty led with 12 points, followed by Malouff with eight and Sorrel Huntington, a freshman, with four.

The Tigers opened a six-point lead on a couple of Lady Pirate turnovers early in the first quarter and it appeared Pagosa had not shaken off their loss earlier in the day. Pagosa finally responded on buckets by Kelley, Buikema and Faber to tie the game at 10 with just over a minute remaining.

The Pirates came out with the old "give and go" play in the second quarter that seemed to put the Tigers in a quandary and extended the lead to six. Malouff had to sit with three fouls and over two minutes remaining and the Pirates used it to their advantage to go up by 10 at the end of two.

The Tigers tried to make a game of it in the third with points by Malouff and Doty bringing them within seven with five minutes remaining. Lynch then popped a long three to stymie Aztec's momentum. Forrest had a putback in the paint to increase the home team's lead to 12 at the end of three.

Aztec outscored the Pirates in the final stanza and came within seven at the four-minute mark after Faber fouled out. An old-fashioned three by Kelley and easy buckets by Buikema and Forrest put the final stamp on the game.

"We are pleased with the way our team came back and handled themselves in the final against a good Aztec team," said Coach Lynch. "I am proud of the way we played and feel the loss to Cortez was a great learning experience. We probably came out a little tired early in the game, but shook it off in the second quarter.

"We have to go back to work at practice and prepare for a tough game in Kirtland."

The Pirates travel to Kirtland tomorrow night to face the New Mexico 4A Broncos in a game scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. This will be the last contest for the Lady Pirates until after the holiday break.

In other final round action at the Wolf Creek Classic, Montezuma-Cortez beat Gunnison 44-33.

Joining Kelley and Lynch on the all tournament team were Doty and Malouff; Natalie Johnson and Megan Hanson from Cortez, and Stephanie Henkle from Gunnison.


Aztec - 12, 7, 10, 12-41

Pagosa Springs 14, 15, 12, 10-51

Scoring: Lynch, 2-7,2-4,0-0,10; Mackey, 1-1,0-0,0-0,2; Kelley, 6-12,0-0,5-6,17; Canty, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; Faber, 2-3,0-0,3-4,7; Buikema, 4-5,0-0,1-2,9; Gayhart, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; DuCharme, 0-0,0-0; Forest, 3-4,0-0,0-2,6. Rebounds: Lynch 2, Mackey 1, Kelley 3, Faber 5, Buikema 4, DuCharme 1, Forrest 3.


Pirates open Wolf Creek Classic with win

By Randy Johnson

Staff Writer

The Pirate basketball team rebounded with an opening round win in the Wolf Creek Classic last Friday night, defeating the Gunnison Cowboys 65-32 to improve to 2-1 for the season.

The Cowboys (1-3) dropped their third straight game.

The Pirates opened strong in this one and built an 11-point lead after one quarter. The Cowboys were ice cold in the beginning, had to play catch-up the rest of the way and couldn't get the job done. In their only loss so far, Pagosa had started cold against Buena Vista and had to try and come from behind as well.

Coach Jim Shaffer started seniors Craig Schutz, Casey Schutz and Paul Przybylski along with juniors Jordan Shaffer and Caleb Ormonde in this one.

Przybylski hit a trey to put the Pirates up by one early in the first and the momentum clearly went Pagosa's way. Craig Schutz led all scorers with 25, followed by Shaffer's nine. Ormonde, along with juniors Kerry Joe Hilsabeck and Adam Trujillo canned six each. Przybylski and Casey Schutz each put three on the board. Hilsabeck, Przybylski and Casey Schutz all had four assists.

For the Cowboys, Coach Sean Besecker started seniors David Bollish and Jacob Dalbey, junior Perry Anderson and sophomore Cameron Nicholl. Dalbey, a 5-8 guard, would score 13 on the strength of four treys, all in the second period.

The Cowboys led once in the game, on an opening free throw by Anderson. Przybylski's trey and Craig Schutz's 12 points would put the Pirates up 21-10 at the end of the first quarter.

Pagosa would use a 14-3 run in the second to increase the lead to 19 with 4:39 showing until intermission. The Cowboys' Dalbey then got hot and hit four treys from way downtown to cut the lead to 14 at the end of the half, with the Pirates up 38-24. Dalbey was so confident in his shooting, he turned the ball over on a traveling call trying to get behind the three-point arch.

The pace slowed down in the third period, with cold shooting by both teams. Each would add only one bucket until the two-minute mark. A putback by Ormonde and a free throw by Hilsabeck put Pagosa at 46. The Pirates' stingy defense held the Cowboys to four points in the quarter.

With just under three minutes remaining in the fourth, and the Pirates up by 27, Shaffer put in Casey Hart and Trujillo along with juniors Travis Richey and James Martinez to end the game. Sophomores Cody Bahn and Jaylen Mendoza also saw playing time.

"It is still early in the year," said Shaffer, "and our kids are still learning a bunch of new things, especially on offense. In the past we had a lot of size and could use it to our advantage. Now we have to be more balanced. At halftime we stressed the need for better defense, especially after number twenty-two hit those four three pointers." It must have worked, as the Cowboys were held to eight points total in the second half and Dalbey was held to one.


Gunnison - 10, 14, 4, 4-32

Pagosa Springs - 21, 17, 8, 19-65


Shaffer, 3-3,1-3,0-2,9; Bahn, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; Hilsabeck, 2-3.0-0,2-3,6; Mendoza, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; Przybylski, 0-0,1-1,0-0,3; Trujillo, 3-4, 0-0,0-0,6; Harper,0-1,0-1,1-2,1; Casey Schutz, 1-4,0-3,1-2,3; Richey, 1-1,0-1,0-0,2; Ormonde, 2-4,0-0,2-3,6; Hart, 1-1,0-0,0-0,2; Craig Schutz, 11-16,0-0,3-4,25; Martinez, 1-2,0-0,0-0,2. Rebounds: Shaffer 7, Hilsabeck 5, Przybylski 1, Trujillo 4, Harper 1, Casey Schutz 2, Ormonde 5, Craig Schutz 4, Martinez 2.


Pirates reach Wolf Creek finals by downing Aztec

By Randy Johnson

Staff Writer

The PSHS varsity basketball Pirates made it two in a row with a convincing 59-42 second-round win over the New Mexico 4A Aztec Tigers at Saturday's Wolf Creek Classic.

The Tigers dropped to 0-2 in the classic following a first-round loss to the 4A Battle Mountain Huskies. The Pirates improved to 3-1 and moved into the finals to play the Huskies for the trophy.

Coach Jim Shaffer tweaked his starting line up by using senior Paul Przybylski and junior Kerry Joe Hilsabeck at the guard positions, junior Jordan Shaffer and senior Casey Schutz at forwards and senior Craig Schutz in the paint. Aztec coach Brian Shock started 6-0 senior Andrew Thompson, 6-3 senior Matt Thompson, 6-0 junior Siman Rudder, 6-3 junior Chase May and 6-3 senior B.H. Scott.

The Pirates took the opening tipoff and went on a 10-0 run against the taller Tigers on a Schutz brothers' scoring show and two's by Hilsabeck and Shaffer.

The score went 14-5 after the first eight minutes and it was pretty much a done deal from there. Shaffer, who had a breakout third quarter, led all scorers with 19. Craig Schutz, scoring in double figures for the fourth straight game, knotted 18. Casey Schutz, playing on a bad wheel, canned 12. Ormonde hit four while Hilsabeck and Przybylski put up three points each. Hilsabeck led the Pirates with seven assists.

For the Tigers, Thompson took high honors with 16 points.

Aztec had some good bench strength with eight points each from senior Ricky Gillespie and junior Justin Harcrow.

The Pirates scored off the opening tipoff and used a 14-5 run to end the first quarter. The Schutz brothers combined for 10 of the total. Another Tiger coming off the bench, junior Nick French, netted a three with just over two minutes remaining to keep them in the game.

Casey Schutz opened the second period with his own three and Craig Schutz hit two in the paint to put the Pirates up by 13 with 4:27 showing. Two free throws from Shaffer ended the first half with the score at 28-16.

Shaffer must have pumped in some Gatorade during intermission; he came out on fire with five quick points on a trey and jumper. Thompson answered with his own three but the Pirate lead was still 10 with 5:36 left in the third. Buckets in the paint by Craig Schutz, Shaffer and Ormonde put the lead back to 12 to end the quarter.

With almost five minutes remaining in the final stanza, Craig Schutz picked up his fourth foul and had to sit with the home team up by 14. A three by Casey Schutz and points by Shaffer and Przybylski, plus some good D, kept the momentum going on an 8-2 run to end the game.

Coach Shaffer indicated that "We played well at times but we still need to get more consistent, especially on offense. Our guys will really have to step up against a good Battle Mountain team."

The Huskies' only loss this year was to the undefeated 4A powerhouse D'Evelyn Jaguars, with whom the Pirates are very familiar.


Aztec - 5, 11, 19, 7-42

Pagosa Springs - 14, 14, 19, 12-59

Scoring: Shaffer, 6-9,1-2,4-4,19; Hilsabeck, 1-2,0-1,2-3,3; Przybylski, 1-3,0-1,1-2,3; Trujillo, 0-0,0-1,0-0,0; Harper, 0-2,0-0,0-0,0; Casey Schutz, 3-4,2-5,0-0,12; Richey, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; Ormonde, 2-4,0-0,0-0,04; Hart, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; Craig Schutz, 7-11,0-0,4-4,18; Martinez, 0-1,0-0,0-2,0. Rebounds: Shaffer 3, Hilsabeck 5, Przybylski 1, Harper 2, Casey Schutz 1, Ormonde 3, Craig Schutz 6, Martinez 1.


Pirates drop overtime barn-burner to Battle Mountain

By Randy Johnson

Staff Writer

Connor Drumm, a 6-5 Battle Mountain senior forward, sank a Hail Mary three-pointer from the base line with one second left in regulation Saturday night to tie the Pirates at 52 in the final game of the Wolf Creek Classic.

The Huskies (5-1) would outscore Pagosa (3-2) in overtime to win the championship, 54-53.

Coach Jim Shaffer knew Pagosa could have won the game in regulation. "If our kids had hit just one more free throw in regulation there would have been no overtime," he said. "We also missed one in the overtime period that would have tied the game."

The 3A Pirates had what was probably their best overall showing so far this year, against a very good 4A Battle Mountain team. In last year's Classic, Pagosa was matched up against the Huskies in the second round and won easily. Battle Mountain was surely looking for some revenge and it took all they could muster and a whole bunch of luck to get the job done.

Shaffer used the same starting five that had beaten Aztec earlier in the day. Starting were 5-10 senior Paul Przybylski and 5-9 junior Kerry Joe Hilsabeck at the guard positions, 5-11 junior Jordan Shaffer and 6-2 senior Casey Schutz at forwards and 6-3 senior Craig Schutz at the post.

Huskies' coach Philip Tronsrue started seniors Josh Ruark and T.J. Montoya at guards, Drumm and senior Derek Rush at forwards and senior Trent Beckley in the middle. The Husky roster did not contain height information, but Beckley would easily hit the 6-8 mark.

This was a tight scoring game all the way and it came down, as Coach Shaffer pointed out, to who would make the least mistakes down the stretch.

The Huskies controlled the opening tip off and led by a long trey from Rush. Baskets by Shaffer, Craig Schutz and a three-pointer from Casey Schutz put the Pirates up by two at the five-minute mark. Another trey by Casey Schutz and more output from Shaffer and Craig Schutz put the home team up by three at the end of one.

A low scoring second period saw Battle Mountain outpace Pagosa 10-8 and reduce the lead to one point at the buzzer, with the score standing at 24-23.

The third period saw a lot more action and scoring after each team got some needed rest at intermission. Both teams traded buckets to tie the score at 33 with 4:37 left in the quarter. Shaffer and Drumm would both hit long treys and the Huskies were up by two with just under two minutes remaining. Ormonde banked one in and Craig Schutz hit one end of a one-on-one that put the Pirates up by one again at the end of three.

The Pirates missed three from the charity stripe in the final quarter to give the Huskies' Drumm his chance to tie.

Przybylski and Beckley each picked up his fourth foul early in the final stanza and had to sit. Both teams then went a scoring drought for almost two minutes, with the Pirates still up by one at the 4:54 mark.

The Pirates increased the lead to three on two free throws by Shaffer but Battle Mountain came back to within one with 16 seconds left. The Huskies pressed the ensuing in-bounds pass but they left Hilsabeck wide open on a breakaway deuce to put the Pirates up again by three with 1.3 seconds on the scoreboard.

The Huskies called timeout and put in the "play" for Drumm to tie the game.

In the four-minute overtime period, both coaches would use a slow-down tactic to run the clock. The Huskies answered first when Drumm hit both ends of a one-on-one to put his team up by two. The Pirates could only muster one free throw to end the scoring.

"We are still learning and this gives us great experience against a very good team," said Coach Shaffer. "A close game like this will only help us get better. By the looks of things so far, I think we have a good basketball team.'

Casey Schutz, scoring double figures in his fifth straight game, shared high honors with 20 points. Shaffer, having another breakout game, pumped in 17 while Casey Schutz hit eight, Hilsabeck four, Ormonde three and Przybylski, who got into foul trouble early, had one point. Hilsabeck led the Pirates with eight assists.

Craig Schutz, Casey Schutz, Shaffer, Drumm and Beckley were named to the all tournament team. Other participants named to the all tournament team were Matt Thomson from Aztec and Jacob Dalby from Gunnison. In other final round action, Aztec beat Gunnison 61-44 to take third place.

The Pirates have two road games before the holiday break. On Dec. 19, they travel to Farmington to face the Farmington High School Scorpions. Then, on Dec. 20, they go back to the Farmington area to face the Piedra Vista Panthers. Both contests are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.


Battle Mountain - 13, 10, 19, 10, 2-54

Pagosa Springs - 16, 8, 19, 9, 1-53

Scoring: Shaffer, 3-5,2-6,5-5,17; Hilsabeck, 2-3,0-0,0-0,4; Przybylski, 0-2,0-0,1-2,1; Trujillo, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; Harper, 0-2,0-1,0-0.0; Casey Schutz, 0-2,2-5,2-4,8; Richey, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; Ormonde, 0-3,0-0,3-4,3; Hart, 0-0,0-0,0-0,0; Craig Schutz, 8-12,0-1,4-7,20.


Fun Race series begins at Wolf Creek Ski Area

The first Fun Race of the year drew 32 entrants to the slopes of Wolf Creek Ski Area Dec. 10.

First in the Girls 12-14 division went to Olivia Wilson of Monte Vista, with a time of 51.94 seconds. Kelsey Anderson of Pagosa was second at 54.80; Erica Pitcher of Pagosa was third at 59.40.

Allison Halpin, of Oregon, took first in the Girls 18-20 with a time of 43.76.

Debra Matthews, of Arizona, was first in Women 51-60, at 48.86

In Boys 6-8, Charlie Hayes of South Fork finished with a time of 1 minute, 42.26 seconds.

Jeffrey Walsh of Pagosa posted a time of 54.97 in Boys 12-14.

Derek Monks of Pagosa topped entries in Boys 15-17 with a time of 50.6. In second was Logan McLellen, of Pagosa, at 51.11. Third went to Pagosa's Bruce Hoch, at 51.53.

Chris Coleman of Pagosa finished at 45.70 in Men 31-35.

Michael Piper of Pagosa won the Men 41-50 in 43.44. Second went to Mike Black at 45.70; third was won by Rick Strohecker, at 45.76.

Bill Morgan, of South Fork, topped racers in Men 51-60, with a time of 43.17. Francis Halpin, of Oregon, was second at 45.59; Andre Matthews, of Arizona, third at 48.59


Aikido: The Way of Harmony

By Bill Trimarco

Special to The SUN

An old legend says that about 900 years ago, in Japan, a samurai watched a spider attacking its prey.

The warrior developed a secret martial art based on the movements of that spider. Until the late 1800s, when Japan ended its feudal era and outlawed the samurai warrior class, these techniques were known only by select students.

As this secret martial way gradually began to be offered to the public, it became known under the names of Daito Ryu Aiki-jutsu, and jiu-jitsu and even evolved into a simplified competitive offshoot that we know today as Judo.

Morehei Ueshiba was born Dec. 14, 1883, in rural Japan. As a youth, he watched thugs brutally beat his father for political reasons and from that point on he realized the importance of strength and physical skill. He devoted his life to the martial arts and became an expert at the sword, staff, spear and Daito Ryu hand techniques. He trained with the fierce swordsman Sokaku Takeda, who once fought his way single-handedly through 50 attackers, killing eight before escaping. Ueshiba and Takeda were considered the best swordsmen of their era in Japan. Sokaku Takeda instructed Ueshiba in the previously secret arts of Daito Ryu Aiki-jutsu.

Ueshiba was a man of deep spirituality and beliefs and focused as intently on these as on his martial training. By the age of 42, his reputation as a warrior was well known and, in the spring of 1925, a kendo instructor challenged him. (Kendo is the sport of wooden sword fighting.) Ueshiba easily avoided the thrusts and cuts of his opponent. He said, "Ša flash of light indicated the direction of the attack." After the match was over, he took a walk in the garden to rest himself. In his words, "I felt that the universe suddenly quaked, and that a golden spirit sprang up from the ground, veiled my body, and changed my body into a golden one. At the same time my mind and body became light. I was able to understand the whispering of the birds and was clearly aware of the mind of God, the Creator of this universe.

"At that moment I was enlightened: the source of budo (the martial way) is God's love, the spirit of loving protection for all beings. Endless tears of joy streamed down my cheeks."

Ueshiba's style of aiki-jutsu became very popular from that point on. Many of his students were high-ranking admirals and other military men. Tales of the Master's exploits on the mat took on legendary status. When 20 or 30 members of the Military Police Academy tried to surprise him in the courtyard with wooden swords, sticks and bayonets, he skillfully avoided their attacks and walked on as if nothing had happened.

He was once invited to give a class at police headquarters in Osaka. He asked the five biggest officers to pin him on the floor - one on top with a choke hold, and one on each limb. Witnesses said he was completely pinned under their weight when suddenly the officers were all thrown off, even though Morehei had barely moved. One of the policemen said, "His body was soft as silk when we first held it; as he emitted a short 'kiai' he became like a piece of iron and we flew off." Master Ueshiba laughed and told them, "You'd better learn more effective arrest techniques if you are going to deal with dangerous criminals."

Morehei Ueshiba believed that, "True budo is to nourish life and foster peace, love, and respect, not to blast the world to pieces with weapons." In 1942, he moved from Tokyo to the small farming village of Iwama. He then gave his martial art a new name, "Aikido." This roughly translates to "The Way of Harmony with Ki (the universal life force)." He became known as "O-Sensei," or great teacher, the founder of this new way.

O-Sensei lived in Iwama, perfecting and teaching Aikido until his death in 1969. He traveled regularly to Tokyo to teach there, where he had left his son in charge of the school. Today, there are Aikido dojos (practice halls) all around the world.

Most of the schools still adhere strictly to the founder's ideals that his martial art be used as a means to promote peace as opposed to the more common martial attitude of victory over one's opponent. In Aikido practice, people typically train with a partner, taking turns as to who will attack and who will defend. Students learn both how to attack and how to blend with the attacker's energy. They learn how to throw and how to be thrown. There is no competitive sparring; instead, the defender will turn the attacker's energy back against him in the form of a throw or joint lock or pin. Aikido philosophy sees aggression as a form of insanity and asserts it is not necessary to hurt or maim someone who is behaving in an insane manner. Instead, their energy is redirected and controlled. Also, practically speaking, if sparring were allowed, the effectiveness and potential brutality of the techniques would lead to serious and permanent injuries. This would not be Aikido. Aikido is about bettering yourself, not being better than others. Men and women, beginners and advanced students all train together, learning to pace themselves to their partner's level of skill and strength. The techniques are virtually the same regardless of these seeming disparities.

In addition to the hand techniques, weapons training is a vital part of Aikido practice. The wooden sword, staff and knife are employed to teach focus, movement and technique. Aikidoists learn to attack and defend both with weapons and barehanded against weapons. In essence, it does not matter whether the attacker is armed or not, or whether the attacker is alone or just one of many multiple attackers, the Aikidoist trains to be like the eye of the hurricane, the calm spot in the center of the storming chaos.

In time, this attitude continues both on and off the mat. Through training, the students learn to see and feel the energy in themselves and their partners and learn to focus and use this for the good of all. O-Sensei's lofty goals transformed an ancient martial art into "the way of harmony with the life force" and he left behind a valuable way for the peaceful warriors of the future and today.

Aikido is well represented in the Four Corners area with four clubs in Albuquerque, two in Santa Fe, two in Durango, one in Farmington and one in Pagosa Springs. There are some variations in style amongst some of these clubs based on their training and affiliation but, for the most part, they follow the teachings of O-Sensei.

The Pagosa Springs club, Aikido of the San Juans, is part of the Takemusu Aikido Association, which is a traditional organization that follows the teachings of the late Morihro Saito. Saito Sensei lived and trained with O-Sensei in Iwama from 1948 until the Founder's death in 1969. He continued training and teaching as head of the Iwama dojo until his own death in 2002.

Aikido of the San Juans can be reached at 264-0430. Contact Bill Trimarco or Lisa Jensen.


Pagosa Springs Recreation

Not like the old days: Are kids' lives too busy?

By Myles Gabel

SUN Columnist

When I was a kid, I'd roam around on my bike for hours.

Today, many kids have daily to-do lists. Some of them have only 20 minutes of free time a day.

"The obsession among parents with efficiency and productivity has trickled down to even the youngest of kids," market research guru Ted Klauber says. Play time has morphed into what Klauber calls a "digital wonderland" - a fast-moving, goal-oriented zone that affords "little time for aimless fun." Kids today are focused on competition, on efficiency, and on results. One consequence of this development is that their imaginations are beginning to atrophy: Play is all about the destination, rather than the journey.

"When parents talked to us about their childhoods," Klauber says, "they had a sense of wonderment. They remembered building forts out of pillows and blankets. They remembered making up elaborate stories. But because kids today have so little free time, and because they're always surrounded by media, they don't explore what's off the beaten path. They want their fun to be quick and easy. The art of being bored is lost."

Of course, child-development experts have worried for years about the impact that television has on creativity. But Klauber's questions - and conclusions - go well beyond the standard fare. For one thing, his research focused on the impact of relatively new technologies, such as the Internet and video games. For another, he looked beyond technology to address the attitudes that are reshaping children's lives. Are "play dates" - with all of their rules and structure - the best way for kids to have fun with one another? Is it necessarily a good thing that virtual technology allows kids to overcome the physical barriers that are associated with childhood? Thanks to computers and video games, Klauber says, a seven-year-old can drive a car, fight a war, or hit a 90-mile-an-hour fastball. Does such freedom from physical limitations produce smarter, faster kids? Or does it create what he calls "adults of all ages"?

Or both?

Source: Fast Company.

Soccer photos

If you bought and paid for extra photographs of your children playing in our youth soccer league this past fall, your pictures are still available at Pagosa Photography, 480 San Juan St. in downtown Pagosa Springs. You can call 264-3686 to speak with Jeff Laydon about delivery of your photos.


If you have a background in basketball as a player or coach, we need you. The Pagosa Springs Recreation Department is hiring referees and scorekeepers for the 2005/2006 youth basketball season. High school students and adults are welcome, and training is provided. Pay depends on experience, certification and the level of the games you officiate/scorekeep. Contact the recreation department at 264-4151, Ext. 232, if interested. Sign up now.

Sports hotline

Information concerning the Pagosa Springs Recreation Department may be found by calling the Pagosa Springs Sports Hotline at 264-6658 or logging on to and going to the Parks and Recreation link. All schedules and upcoming events are updated every Monday morning.

For additional information about any of the Pagosa Springs Recreation Department adult or youth sports programs, contact Myles Gabel, recreation supervisor, 264-4151, Ext. 232



Too much bureaucracy

There are some fine things about American public education: those par-ents who remember the primary responsibility for their child's educa-tion, discipline and character rests at home; the many teachers who labor long hours, enduring abuses and stress for far too little pay, still dedicated to the ideal of learning.

There are some rotten things about American public education: elected officials who cook up "education" law and programs designed, primarily, for immediate political gain; and an ever-larger cadre of bureaucrats in school administration systems, beguiled by statistics, captivated by abstractions, many far removed from the realities of the classroom, perpetuating an avalanche of paperwork that baffles parents and school boards and buries faculties in rulebound busywork.

A recent incident in a local school caused us to reflect on the gulf between teacher, students, parents and taxpayers on one hand, and the regulators on the other.

A youngster was cut on the arm with an art class knife wielded by another student. The parents were not called immediately after the incident, police were not called.

This was a mistake. It is wrong to not immediately notify a parent when a child is injured. Any attack, with a weapon of any kind, is a violation of the law. Violations of law involve certified law enforcement authorities - the police. It was a mistake not to call the police.

We all make mistakes.

However, when district administration was questioned regarding the lack of response, what came back first were comments about how school officials had followed proper protocol. Next arrived a copy of drivel lifted from a district manual - a barely comprehensible and facetious defense.

Not once was the right answer given: "We made a mistake. "It will not happen again."

The incident illustrates one aspect of the increasing bureaucratization of public education, with learning giving way to a rapidly growing body of Byzantine characters and rules, to actions by administrators hiding behind verbiage, years removed from actual classroom experience, in some cases cynically oblivious to their essential obligations to the taxpayer, parents and students.

It happens, in part, because we elect federal and state officials who use education as an ideological battering ram with little or no understanding of its realities. They pass laws designed to secure their political futures with ideologues, with scant regard for the youngsters who must learn. Thus, we have No child Left Behind from the feds, CSAP demands from the state.

What these programs do is fortify the bureaucratic battlements, amplify the trend of setting educational policy and goals from the top down, rather from the bottom up. Another mistake. That few admit.

We elect, and reelect, legislators who pass laws that force schools and school personnel to be babysitters, to operate holding facilities, to be counselors, social workers, surrogate parents. In doing so, we have more regulations, more bureaucracy.

A mistake, that few admit.

When it comes to learning, we've put teachers at the bottom of the stack, increasingly burdened by bureaucratic demands, made more responsible yet less able to teach with a measure of judgment and freedom, less able to provide feedback and advice that could change the system. We lose quality teachers all the time and find fewer high-quality candidates to replace them.

The sad part: We accept the load. We elect school boards unwilling or unable to see through the crap, to stand up to the phony legislation and the bureaucrats who hide, making excuses, behind reams of paper, who flood them with facts and abstractions, who avoid the simple, honest answer.

The current explosion of regulation, and the bureaucratic behaviors that follow, is a poorly disguised attempt to destroy public education in America - a system that is falling steadily behind many systems across the globe. When is someone going to admit it?

Karl Isberg


Pacing Pagosa

How do you use Jesus' name?

By Richard Walter

SUN Columnist

Editor's note: Out of respect for the talents of our colleague, the late Richard Walter, and in recognition of his 2005 award from the Colorado Press Association for Best Serious Column writing, we will reprint Pacing Pagosa selections until the new year.

Throughout history there have been references to Jesus Christ in a desultory and insulting manner.

There have, as well, been those which credit him as the man without sin, the man born of a virgin, who was also part of the triune God and is regarded by Christianity as the Savior of all who believe and confess their sin.

With the Christmas season signaling that birth as God's gift to those he had created, I thought it might serve us well to recall some of the comments made with reference to Jesus.

For example, the author Havelock Ellis, writing in Impressions and Comments, Series 3, opined:

"Had there been a lunatic asylum in the suburbs of Jerusalem, Jesus Christ would infallibly have been shut up in it at the outset of his public career. That interview with Satan on a pinnacle of the temple would alone have damned him, and everything that happened after could but have confirmed the diagnosis."

On the other hand, Joseph Ernest Renan in the introduction to "La Vie de Jesus," wrote:

"The whole of history is incomprehensible without him (Jesus)."

Mary Baker Eddy saw in her faith in Jesus one who was more than a pillar for the faithful.

Writing in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she observed, "Jesus of Nazareth was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause."

It has been said all the world is a stage and its people actors thereon. Some actors, however, had similar views on their importance. Charlie Chaplin is quoted by his wife Lita in "My Life with Chaplin" as having said, " I am known in parts of the world by people who never heard of Jesus Christ." He was not stating it in pride, but as a matter of fact. More recently, the singer-songwriter John Lennon was quoted in a London Evening Standard interview as saying, "We're more popular than Jesus now. I don't know which will go first - rock n' roll or Christianity."

Those convinced Jesus was the chosen savior can take solace in the words of the apostle, John, who wrote in his epistle to the Hebrews that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of which I am chief," and later reflected, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever."

In "The Sensible Man's View of Religion," however, John Haynes Holmes wrote, "If Christians were Christians, there would be no anti-Semitism. Jesus was a Jew. There is nothing that the ordinary Christian so dislikes to remember as this awkward historical fact."

Perhaps to counter that type of thought, the noted Malcolm Muggeridge in his 1975 piece titled simply, "Jesus," wrote, "As Man alone, Jesus could not have saved us; as God alone, he would not; Incarnate, he could, and did."

The fiery Simon Bolivar is credited with, "The three greatest dolts in the world: Jesus, Don Quixote, and I."

If I have titillated your own remembrances of comments regarding the Lord, let me close with this from "The Easter Hymn": Jesus Christ is risen today; Alleluia!"



90 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 17, 1915

B.E. Stevens' window is a splendid example of what energy and originality can do in the way of displaying goods. The window would attract attention anywhere. Also do not fail to note his bargains listed elsewhere in this issue.

Miss Julia Grimes departed yesterday for Denver, where she will enter the Barnes Commercial College to take a course in shorthand and bookkeeping. She will make her home with an aunt.

If the geezer who stole Elias Peterson's three White Holland turkeys Sunday night will inform him whether they were tough or tender, he or she will confer a favor as they were purchased for experimental eating purposes only.

 75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 19, 1930

J.C. Maloy the past week made a thorough inspection of all fire hydrants and hose for the town, making the necessary repairs to put them in first-class shape for possible fires.

The youngsters who have been persistently breaking street lamps throughout the city are due for a jolt in police court. No mercy will be extended if the practice is not immediately stopped.

The fire alarm was sounded Saturday and a speedy run made to the residence property of Mrs. Ada Merritt on First Street, which had been unoccupied for some time. The house and furniture were quite badly damaged by fire and water, probably entailing a loss of about $500, though the flames were quickly extinguished.

 50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 15, 1955

The weather the past week has been rather nice for this time of the year with temperatures sharp at night, all going below zero, and the days clear and warm.

This past week Ernest Yamaguchi and myself went up to the Wolf Creek Ski Tow to get some information and pictures regarding the tow for publicity purposes. We found it to be a first-class tow in every respect and some of the best ski runs it has ever been my good luck to see. The runs there will compare favorably with any in Colorado and there is a large enough variety that most any skier can find his slope. There was quite a crowd there and the tow, which is capable of handling three hundred persons per hour, was handling the crowd very nicely.

 25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 18, 1980

Snowfall on Wolf Creek Pass so far this winter is somewhat below the long time average, and at press time this week, there doesn't seem to be good prospects for more right away. Despite this skiing at Wolf Creek Ski Area is classed as good, but large crowds over the Christmas holidays may change that.

It was announced this week that The Pagosa Springs SUN had been sold to Don Winter and Herman Riggs. The announcement was made by Glen Edmonds, who has been the publisher of the SUN for the past 32-1/2 years. Edmonds said, "We believe the sale of the newspaper to local residents and businessmen will be a forward step in the progress of the community."



Pagosan summits Kilimanjaro,

tours Africa

By Kate Collins

Staff Writer

Imagine seeing the world from 19,340 feet above sea level.

Standing atop Mount Kilimanjaro, an ocean of space separates you from the earth with an occasional mountain peak forming an island in the midst of the white billowing waves of clouds. Such was the view that Carole Cooke, a Pagosa Springs artist, described following her recent summit experience on the highest peak in Africa.

"It was more interesting, more wonderful, more challenging than anything I've experienced before," said Cooke of her journey. ""I think about it every day."

Cooke, her husband, Nick Goodman, and her adult son, Justin Benham, reached the summit of Kilimanjaro on Oct. 17 of this year, three weeks prior to her 56th birthday.

"Nick turned sixty this fall, and as we were having lunch next to the Piedra River this summer, he said, 'What do you think about doing something unique and challenging for my birthday?'" explained Cooke of the hatching of the Kilimanjaro climbing idea. "He planned everything - I have never even climbed a [Colorado] fourteener.

"There were times you had to keep going - had to get from point A to point B in one day. Endurance was so necessary," stated Cooke. "All you could think about was the next step."

Cooke and her family, along with five other climbers, joined up with three guides and 35 porters, all natives of Tanzania, upon their arrival in Arusha. "We chose this company in part because they support the local economy," stated Cooke. "And they are very environmentally conscious." Although there was somewhat of a language barrier, Cooke recalled, "smiles are a universal language. Every one of them was happy and friendly. I did not see one sour face."

On the first day of the trek, Cooke hiked through the rainforest, slipping and sliding through the mud. "I thought, 'What am I doing here?'" said Cooke. By the end of the day, the group had gained almost 4,000 vertical feet.

Days two and three were used primarily for acclimatization, as the group ascended about 1,100 feet. Cooke hiked across a massive plateau, and recalled looking back with satisfaction, seeing the ground they had covered that day. "Every day had an extra, optional excursion," explained Cooke. "We all went, to take every opportunity to acclimate. My son's phrase was, 'I'm here - I'll sleep when I'm dead.' We didn't want to miss anything."

Moir Camp, a small cone-shaped hut, was the destination on day four, at an elevation of 13,800 feet. The optional excursion was up a butte that involved scrambling over rocks that opened onto a small plateau. "It was beautiful - it was art!" said Cooke of the stacked slate sculptures they discovered on top, created by previous climbers.

On day five, Cooke and the group hiked to 15,000 feet to Lava Tower Camp. Upon their arrival, the porters surprised the tourists with "singing and dancing, smiles and laughing. They had this contagious energy. It was a very encouraging thing." The tourists joined in the revelry and realized that the dancing helped with their breathing and acclimatization.

At this camp, two women in the tourist group became ill with altitude sickness. One young woman had to be hauled down the mountain by two porters. Cooke realized the "precarious situation" they were in and realized afresh the importance of following the guides' instructions.

"They were so well trained. I literally put my life in their hands. I wasn't sure if I could [summit], but they reassured me. And they do this for a living," said Cooke.

The group ascended to 18,750 feet on day six, and slept at Crater Camp, after climbing the Western Breech. The Western Breech is a long climb up a face of mixed rock and ice. "All you could think about is your breathing rhythm, drinking water and not falling off," said Cooke.

The optional excursion was a hike that skirted the glacier. Walking was not easy as Cooke trekked over "lots of scree and loose rocks with ice underneath." The Arrow Glacier hike was good training for day seven.

"It was the 'I-can't-believe-I'm-still-alive day,'" said Cooke. The group ascended to the peak of the mountain, an elevation of 19,340 feet, where there is no vegetation. "It looked like a moonscape," remembers Cooke. "The whole thing was so surreal; trying to take it all in was amazing."

Cooke descended to 11,000 feet the same day she reached the summit. "We hiked from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. It was exhausting. I couldn't think of a more extreme way to push myself. I wanted to fall over, but I told myself I didn't have a choice. It was complete exhaustion, but the next morning I felt great."

Cooke and the group hiked about three hours on the final day to a lunch ceremony created by the porters. The porters sang to each member of the group and presented them with a certificate of completion. "We really had wonderful camaraderie," said Cooke of her group. "We were in it together. [And] it was heaven to be with my son.

"It made me realize that I can do a lot more than I thought I could," said Cooke of her overall experience. "It challenged me personally. I'm so happy I did it. I never dreamed it would have such an effect on me. It gave me this beautiful thing to remember."

After their climbing experience, Cooke, her husband and her son spent two weeks touring Serengeti National Park on a photography safari, and viewing the mountain gorillas of Rwanda.

"We lived in tent camps and drove in open-top cars," explained Cooke of the Serengeti safari. "I got lots of pictures of hippos, giraffes, wildebeests and elephants." The animals were in their natural habitats as the tourists observed each species from their guided vehicles. Cooke was able to witness a female black rhino with her baby - an endangered species with only about 3,500 surviving in the wild.

"The warthogs made me laugh every time I saw them," said Cooke of her animal-viewing exploits. "Their tails shot strait up when they ran, and laid down flat again when they stopped."

From the Serengeti, Cooke and her family traveled to Rwanda where the people welcomed the tourists with open arms.

"They wanted everyone to know that the country is at peace now. They want people to come visit. We saw nothing but friendly people," said Cooke. The guides explained that both political sides of the country like the current president and what the administration is doing to sew the country back together.

Cooke observed mountain gorillas in the same area that the famed Dianne Fossey lived, worked and perished. There are currently about 350 mountain gorillas in this specific area, and they are diligently protected by the Rwandan government and various other groups from poachers.

"There are guards protecting the gorillas twenty-four hours a day. There were even four rifled men guarding our group as we watched the gorillas." Cooked explained the long hike through the underbrush and nettles as difficult: "It was like walking on a trampoline of overgrowth," she said.

"The gorillas rose up and beat their chests to let us know we were in their territory," stated Cooke. "We saw the largest gorilla in the world, and he was taking a nap."

After observing the gorillas, Cooke and her group visited the village of a Masai goat-herding tribe. On a fence made of brush, the women of the village displayed their intricate bead work to sell to the tourists. "All the proceeds go to a general community fund for food and supplies," explained Cooke.

At another Masai village, Cooke was allowed to enter into a hut belonging to a village resident. "There was absolutely nothing inside," said Cooke. "There's a real out-of-balance in the world. I don't think you'll ever be the same after visiting Africa. All they have is what is on their backs. We have so much. I can't stop thinking about how I can help; everyone has a right to food and water."

Cooke is very aware that she had the exceptional opportunity to live out what many only dream of. "I feel so lucky we go to do so many things. It's truly the experience of a lifetime," said Cooke with a smile. "I need to thank my husband for planning the whole thing."


Pagosa's Past

When the fort left, Pagosa's economy suffered

By John M. Motter

PREVIEW Columnist

We've been writing about Indian unrest and the location and construction of Army forts in Pagosa Country and the San Juan Basin, circa 1878-1882.

What about what was going on with the civilian population?

It is safe to assume the building of Fort Lewis precipitated the founding of Pagosa Springs. Construction of the fort began in October of 1878. The first seedlings of the town probably took root in late 1877. The post office named "Pagosa Springs" officially opened in June of 1878. Those first settlers undoubtedly knew, or at least could make a guess, that the fort was coming, along with its potential for providing means for making a living.

Jobs and payrolls were scarce in the frontier west. Settlement in the San Juans was triggered by the discovery of gold and silver. The principal mining camps were located at Silverton, Lake City, Ouray, Telluride, Ophir and Summitville. Creede did not emerge as a mining site until after 1890.

Pagosa Springs was never the source of any mining income. During the halcyon days of mining in the San Juans, Pagosa Springs was just a wide spot on roads leading from the east and south to mining country.

When the miners and their supporters moved in, the potential for conflict between Ute and white increased immensely. For that reason, Fort Lewis was begun in Pagosa Springs. Because of the fort, a number of merchants and tradesmen settled in Pagosa Springs, beginning the town across the river from the fort. The fort was located where the main business block of downtown Pagosa Springs remains today. The first business establishments were located across the river along San Juan Street and along the stage coach entrance to town from the south, approximating the present path of Hot Springs Boulevard.

The new fort needed lumber, so two lumber mills were erected providing a certain amount of employment. Supplies for the remote post had to be hauled in by wagon and so teamsters were needed, as were blacksmiths, farriers and wheelwrights. Soldiers have always been notoriously thirsty and a number of bars sprang up. Also needed were hay, beef and other groceries.

Cattlemen set up ranches where soon-to-be beefsteaks could graze on "grass up to a horse's belly."

The 1880 Colorado Business Directory listed the following businesses for Pagosa Springs, most of the names gone and long forgotten: R.D. Smith, general merchandise; Newman, Chestnut & Co., drugs, books, etc.; E.R. Cooper, groceries and provisions; Field and Hill, general merchandise; W.D. Peabody, post sutler and general merchandise; J.H. Voorhees, second hand store; Tom Blair, Sam Frazier, saloon; Joseph M. Clark (Clarke ... Motter), post master and general store; C.F. Stollsteimer, meat market; M.L. Dunn, proprietor of the Hamilton House.

The town population from 1880 until the railroad came in 1900 seemed to remain relatively constant, probably because by 1882, everyone knew the fort was leaving Pagosa Springs.

Even though hot springs were popular among health seekers during the 1880s, the Great Pagosa Hot Springs was unable to attract enough visitors to sustain growth. At that time, the only way to reach Pagosa Springs was by a wagon ride, either the jolting, 40-mile stagecoach ride from Amargo in New Mexico, or by other wagons. Substantial growth was delayed until the railroad reached town in 1900.


Pagosa Sky Watch

'Full Long Nights Moon' this month

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

The following sun and moon data for Dec. 15 is provided by the United States Naval Observatory.

Sunrise: 7:15 a.m.

Sunset: 4:52 p.m.

Moonrise: 4:43 p.m.

Moonset: 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 16

Moon phase: Full.

As the first official day of winter approaches and the days grow shorter and the nights longer, there is no better name for this month's full moon then the "Full Long Nights Moon."

However, according to the Farmer's Almanac, that is not the only option for the December full moon, and other commonly used names include the "Full Cold Moon," or "The Moon Before Yule."

In light of the weather and the season, all December's full moon names seem appropriate, although the "Full Long Nights" moniker seems to have the closest link to astronomical events.

During all Decembers, regardless of the year, the full moon actually stays in the sky longer, and travels on a higher trajectory than any other full moon of the year.

This is due to the fact that the full moon's motions are exactly opposite those of the sun. Therefore, as the winter solstice approaches and the sun dips lower in the sky as it makes its way to its farthest point southward, the moon inches ever higher in the night sky. The sun's low trajectory accounts for the short days, and because the moon does exactly the opposite of the sun, we have long, wintery, moon-filled nights, hence, the "Full Long Nights Moon."

Because of the relationship between the sun and moon, December's full moon always stays in the sky longer and always travels at a higher trajectory than other full moons. However, what makes tonight's full moon more noteworthy is that the moon will not travel this high across the December sky again until 2023. The reason for this higher than usual trajectory is that we are nearing the peak of a major lunar standstill cycle.

A major lunar standstill is much like a solstice in that, while a solstice marks the sun's most northern or southern path, a major lunar standstill denotes the moon's northernmost or southernmost position when it rises out of the east and into the sky.

In addition, like the solstices whose timing is predictable, a major lunar standstill is also predictable. By comparison, solstices happen twice a year, whereas a major lunar standstill happens on a regular, 18.6-year cycle.

During the cycle, and at 9.3- year intervals, moon rises gradually shift from rising south of the summer solstice sunrise location, to rising north of the summer solstice sunrise location. At each end of this northward/southward progression a standstill occurs.

Perceiving a major lunar standstill takes years of consistent and diligent observation, and if it weren't for today's professional astronomers, many casual, back yard star gazers might never be aware of their occurrence.

But even before the days of contemporary astronomy, with its sophisticated observational technology, many of our ancient star gazing ancestors were keenly aware of the movements of the sun and moon and developed their own methods and architecture to chronicle key events. While there are many such sites around the world, two in particular are famous for their ability to capture the movement of the moon during a lunar standstill. One is Newgrange, Ireland, the other is our own local Chimney Rock Archaeological Area.

At Chimney Rock, near sunset close to the day of the winter solstice during the major lunar standstill cycle, the full moon rises in a narrow window of sky framed between the site's stone pillars.

Following years of study, many archaeologists and archaeoastronomers believe there is a direct link between the construction and orientation of Chimney Rock's main structure, the Great House Pueblo, and the major lunar standstill cycle. In fact, it is only from the vantage point of the Great House Pueblo that observers at Chimney Rock can witness the lunar standstill event.

For those sky watchers unable to enjoy the full moon rising through the Chimney Rock spires, the December full moon will be just as brilliant from all vantage points throughout Pagosa Country.

In addition, on Dec. 18, you can use the nearly-full moon to locate the planet Saturn. Looking east-northeast at about 9 p.m., the ringed planet will appear as a bright, cream-colored object low on the horizon about one fingertip's width below the moon.

With a long, full moon night tonight and an opportunity during the weekend to view the moon clustered close to one of the most spectacular of all the planets, grab a coat, hat and a hot drink and head outdoors and join a centuries-old sky watching tradition.




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Expecting the big storm? You'll have to wait

By John Middendorf

Staff Writer

After our big dump of 3.5 inches of snow on Tuesday (10 inches on Wolf Creek), not much more snow is expected on the horizon, with only a maximum 20-percent chance of snow predicted for Saturday.

Lows last week reached a minimum of minus 8.4 degrees F last Thursday morning, with a high of 49 degrees at 3 p.m. Sunday.

The rest of this week should be cloudy with light breezes, highs just above freezing, and low temps in the single digits. The clouds should clear by Monday or Tuesday, with sunny weather for the remainder of next week.

Contrary to popular belief, the Eskimos do not have hundreds of words for snow. According to Anthony Woodbury of the University of Texas linguistics department, the Alaskan Yupik Eskimo language has about a dozen words referring to snow and related natural phenomena. This is, he adds, "not remarkably different in size from the list in English."

It is true, however, that the meaning of the Eskimo lexemes (independent vocabulary items) can be quite unique. Yupik has words for fresh fallen snow, fallen snow floating on water, and two distinct words for blizzards, depending on the severity.

Of the five major languages spoken by our far northern neighbors, the Inuit language, on the other hand, has about 31 terms for snow. Many are descriptions of the type of snow with single word English equivalents, and others are unique, such as Aniuvak, meaning snow remaining in holes, and Anuik, snow for drinking water. Other Inuit words include Maujaq, meaning deep and soft snow that is difficult to walk on, and Auviq, a snow brick used for making an igloo. At least seven Inuit words refer to snowdrifts, some describing the shape and location, and others referring to the direction of the wind from which they were created.

Compare these to the English words: snow, snowfall, snowflake, snowstorm, blizzard, squall, flurry, frost, hail, grits, ice, slush, sleet, hardpack, crust, snowbank, snowdrift, avalanche, cornice, snowman, snowball, as well as borrowed words like the French névé, and of course, igloo.

Fun Weather Fact

The town of Fraser, at 8,660 feet above sea level, is the coldest place in Colorado, if not the contiguous U.S. The town has recorded below-zero Fahrenheit temperatures for nine months of the year, with 317 below-freezing days on average. The average annual temperature recorded was only 32.5 degrees F until 1975 - the year that some metropolitan folks reckoned the low temperatures reported in Fraser were dissuading people from moving to our state, and Fraser's official weather station was dismantled. When it was reinstated in 1988, it was moved to a warmer part of town, where the recorded average annual temperatures rose to a balmy 34.6 degrees. The town was once famous as President Dwight D. Eisenhower's favorite (summer) vacation getaway. According to reports, Fraser has an average frost-free period of only four days per year.