November 23, 2006

Front Page

Town to consider demolition ordinance

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

The Pagosa Springs Town Council is working to solidify an ordinance that, if approved, would put new constraints on property owners seeking demolition permits and would eliminate projects where demolition is complete but the property is left bare.

The primary thrust of the proposed regulations - presented to the Pagosa Springs Town Council for discussion at a special session Nov. 15 - would require applicants seeking demolition or building relocation permits to submit a redevelopment plan along with the demolition or relocation permit application. Further, the ordinance mandates that demolition or relocation permits would not be issued unless the town's building official has also issued a permit for the replacement building.

The idea of legislating a more comprehensive demolition permit process has been discussed among town council members and town staff during recent months, and the move is partially the product of public outcry following two key events: a string of downtown demolitions during the summer of 2005, and most recently, an investor's request for a non-revocable, multi-year demolition permit for the Pinewood Inn. The investor, Harold Kelley, had made his offer to purchase the property contingent upon procurement of the permit, although Kelley ultimately walked away from the deal.

The tenets of the proposed ordinance are numerous, and the legislation as drafted targets non-residential buildings within non-residential zone districts. Under the draft ordinance, applicants for demolition or relocation must submit, among other items: an economic feasibility report prepared by an architect, developer, appraiser or other qualified individual; a report from a licensed engineer or architect regarding the soundness of the building and its suitability for rehabilitation or relocation; and a redevelopment plan.

The regulations also incorporate standards for review for relocation, standards for review for demolition, guidelines for reuse of materials and penalties for those convicted of violating the ordinance. Penalties include imposition of a 10-year moratorium on issuance of building permits or certificates of occupancy for the property on which the infraction occurred.

According to the proposed ordinance and Town Planner Tamra Allen, requests for demolition on simple projects such as single structures on single lots would go before the town's design review board, which would have final approval or denial powers.

More complex projects however, would go through the town's planning commission. According to Allen, the planning commission would hear the demolition or relocation request, review site and building plans then make a recommendation to the town council. The council would then ultimately approve or deny the application request.

Allen said the proposed ordinance would serve to compliment and support the town's forthcoming revised historic preservation guidelines and would be incorporated into the town's land use code.

If ultimately approved, Pagosa Springs would not be the first town to adopt such an ordinance.

Michael Davenport, historic preservation planner for the Town of Telluride, said Telluride's land use code incorporates similar regulations, and stipulates that demolition or relocation permits will not be issued unless the town's building official has issued a total building permit for the replacement structure.

The language virtually mirrors a clause in the Pagosa Springs ordinance.

Davenport said the Telluride regulation applies to both residential and commercial structures.

Although still in the draft stages, Allen anticipated the proposed ordinance will go before the Pagosa Springs Town Council for first reading Dec. 5 and second reading Jan. 3, 2007.


Vote Center process deemed a success

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

Election day has come and gone, and although reports on the process varied across the state, it appears things went well for voters in Archuleta County.

According to Archuleta County Clerk and Recorder June Madrid, citizen responses to the new vote centers were largely positive, lines moved steadily and wait times topped out at 30 to 35 minutes.

Reports from the Denver area indicated some voters waited three hours to cast their ballots.

Among the three vote centers used during the general election in Archuleta County, Madrid said the courthouse and Restoration Fellowship Church vote centers received the most intense voting pressure with wait lines developing throughout the day, whereas the vote center at Our Savior Lutheran Church received steady pressure but no lines.

The shift to vote centers was the product of a May 2 decision by the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners, and was part of a push to create greater convenience for voters while adhering to the mandates of the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

Madrid explained that according to HAVA, each polling location is required to have special voting equipment, called Direct Recording Equipment (DRE), that can accommodate the needs of physically challenged electors or electors with virtually any disability.

Under Archuleta County's previous, 10-precinct voting scenario, HAVA would have required the installation of 10 DRE machines - one at each polling place in the county. Unfortunately, the HAVA grant awarded to the county to aid in compliance with the legislation fell short, and rather than receiving $160,000 for the 10-precinct installation, the county received only $56,000.

In order to fully comply with HAVA under the 10-precinct scenario, Madrid said the county would have had to provide the remaining $105,000 - funds Madrid said, the county did not have.

Therefore, in order to meet HAVA requirements, Madrid said the county used the grant money to open three vote centers that would fully comply with federal regulations. She said she chose the vote center locations used during the primary and the general elections based on concentrations of work force populations.

"The whole idea is to get them (vote centers) where people work, and that's why we put two at Fairfield," Madrid said.

Madrid added that after reports from vote center volunteers revealed the Lutheran church center received the least pressure, she is considering relocating the vote center - perhaps slightly closer to town.

For now, because the county has no plans to purchase another DRE - a move which is necessary for compliance with HAVA in order to open an additional vote center - Madrid said moving one of the existing vote centers to a new location is the only viable option to alleviate voting pressure.

Madrid said the machines cost about $8,000 plus associated software and set-up costs, and with county funds earmarked for roads, and HAVA closing the purse strings, purchasing another DRE is not on the county's current shopping list. She said she doesn't foresee this as a serious problem at least in the immediate future.

"On odd years, we're allowed by statute to send mail-out ballots," Madrid said. Madrid added that next year is an odd year, and this will buy the county time to procure funds for more equipment and for the state to resolve numerous issues related to the new machines. Those issues include an unprecedented raft of security measures that Madrid said trickle down to all facets of the voting process.

"It took us days to get the security organized," Madrid said.

With no plans for peppering new vote centers throughout the county, Madrid said she will work to make the voting process as painless as possible.

To that end, she said her staff mailed absentee ballot applications to all voters in Arboles during the most recent election, in order to save them a drive into Pagosa Springs, and to make casting their ballots easier. In addition, Madrid said electors can early vote, cast an absentee or provisional ballot, or vote on election day. Those serving overseas in the armed forces can vote via fax.

Although it appears election day went off without a hitch for the voters of Archuleta County, Madrid said it proved challenging for election volunteers and officials.

"This was probably the worst election we've ever had."

Madrid said she and election staff will meet after Thanksgiving to explore ways to improve the process, including ways to streamline meeting the 11-pages of recently adopted and state mandated security requirements.

To comment on the placement of vote centers or the election process via e-mail, contact Madrid at Written comments can be mailed to Archuleta County Clerk and Recorder, P.O. 2589, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.


Court decision could halt 'Village' road

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

Two area environmental groups are awaiting a federal judges' decision, that, if enacted, will temporarily cease all road construction and construction related activities linked to the proposed Village at Wolf Creek.

"We anticipate the judge will incorporate the ruling into a decision this week," said Ryan Demmy Bidwell of Colorado Wild.

According to Bidwell, the anticipated ruling from U.S. District Judge John Kane, would shift a 10-day temporary restraining order requested Nov. 16 by Colorado Wild and the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, to a preliminary injunction, thus ceasing all road construction, or Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) permitting activities until May 1.

Colorado Department of Transportation access permits from village roads to U.S. Highway 160 are pivotal in securing final approval for the development from Mineral County and are necessary considering U.S. Highway 160 provides the only road access to the otherwise landlocked parcel.

The proposed village, which could ultimately accommodate 10,000 people at build out, sits on a 287.5-acre private inholding surrounded by the Rio Grande National Forest and is adjacent to the Wolf Creek Ski Area.

Colorado Wild and the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council sought the restraining order and the preliminary injunction after the United States Forest Service issued a permit allowing village developers, Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture - fronted by Billy Joe "Red" McCombs and Bob Honts - to begin construction of the Tranquility Road extension.

The Forest Service issued the permit Nov. 14.

Bidwell said the purpose of the injunction was to suspend all project-related construction and permitting activities until the court reviews a lawsuit filed by Colorado Wild and the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council Oct. 19.

The lawsuit filed in federal court challenges the scope of the Forest Service's Village at Wolf Creek environmental impact statement (EIS) and alleges Forest Supervisor Peter Clark unlawfully modified the EIS' record of decision regarding road requirements with an Aug. 28 letter to village attorney David Ross.

In the suit, Colorado Wild and the San Luis Valley Ecosytem council charge the Forest Service with failing to address the impacts of the village as a whole by issuing an EIS focusing solely on the impacts associated with the construction of two access roads.

U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar and other local, regional and state level legislators have leveled a similar claim.

Despite the lawsuit, Bidwell said the Forest Service issued the Nov. 14 permit, which left the groups' with few options.

"The Forest Service had refused to delay road construction for even a few days, so we were forced to seek the court's intervention," Bidwell said.

By press time Tuesday, Kane had not issued his decision, although Geoff Hickcox, attorney for the environmental organizations, said all parties had entered into negotiations concerning the injunction. By noon Tuesday, Bidwell said all parties had agreed to the injunction request.

Honts confirmed that negotiations were ongoing and that Kane's ruling was expected any day.

"There are discussions. If they are looking for status-quo, no construction in the wintertime, that's not hard to give them," Honts said. "We're looking forward to the main case and our day in court."

Randy Karstaedt, director of physical resources for the Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Region said attorneys for the developer, the plaintiffs and the Forest Service had signed a stipulated agreement relating to the injunction request.

Bidwell said if approved by Kane, the injunction would expire in May, however, if the court had not yet ruled on the suit by that time, Bidwell said Colorado Wild would ask for an extension.

Honts and Hickcox anticipated a ruling on the suit by spring.

Hickcox said, "We're not just trying to delay this project. Once the court takes a close look at the Forest Service's flawed decision, we believe that the agency will have to go back and consider all of the environmental impacts associated with its decision to allow access from U.S. Highway 160 to the proposed Village site, not just those arising from the footprint of the access roads themselves."


Inside The Sun

Lend, and receive, a Helping Hand this holiday season

Operation Helping Hand distributed 98 Thanksgiving food boxes and turkeys to Archuleta County's less fortunate residents on Friday, Nov. 17. The Pagosa Springs Rotary Club distributed free winter clothing and coats on the same afternoon. More help is on the way this holiday season.

According to Operation Helping Hand organizers, 295 people, including 138 children and 31 senior citizens, have registered for assistance from the program. The deadline for applying for help is 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4. Application forms are available at the Social Services office at Town Hall on Hot Springs Boulevard.

Program organizers, who help coordinate the charitable work of area civic clubs, churches, businesses and organizations, say they are getting numerous requests for used furniture, blankets, pots and pans, dishes, silverware and electric blankets. These items, which organizers say can be "used, but still usable," should be brought to one of the following drop-off locations: Coldwell Banker - The Pagosa Group, located on Put Hill, Jann Pitcher Real Estate, located on Put Hill, Bank of the San Juans on Hot Springs Boulevard, Allstate Insurance on Talisman Drive or the Movie Gallery in the Country Center Shopping Center by Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Toy Outreach

This branch of Operation Helping Hand provides an opportunity for children to get involved in the program.

Parents may help their children select for donation a toy or toys they no longer use, but which are still in good condition. Used bikes, PlayStations, stereos and CD players are especially high on the wish lists of many young people. These items should be brought to one of the above drop-off locations by Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Project Empty Stocking

Volunteers will post requested items on paper stockings at both City Markets on Saturday. These requests range from socks and underwear to snow boots, pants and coats. To fill one of these requests, remove a stocking from the board in City Market, then purchase and wrap your gift, attaching the stocking to your package so the gift will be delivered to the correct individual or family. Take your gift to one of the above drop-off locations by Wednesday, Dec. 13.

The Library "Giving Tree"

Give a child a world of possibilities this Christmas Š give them a book! Please sponsor an ornament on the "Giving Tree" located in the lobby of the Ruby Sisson Memorial Library between Dec. 2 and Dec. 15. Each ornament represents a disadvantaged child here in Archuleta County. Your donation of a book or cash gift towards a book will be combined with Christmas packages put together by Operation Helping Hand. For more information, call the Sisson Library at 264-2208

Secret Santa Toy Tree

This program seeks to provide at least one new toy to each child in need this holiday season. Toy requests will be posted on a special tree located at the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

To fill one of these requests, remove a request from the tree, then purchase and wrap your gift, attaching the stocking to your package so the gift will be delivered to the correct individual or family. Take your gift to one of the above drop-off locations by Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Snowflake Program

Volunteers at Community United Methodist Church are participating by assisting families with their holiday needs in cooperation with Operation Helping Hand.

Christmas Food Boxes

Food donations are always needed for Christmas dinners. It is the goal of Operation Helping Hand volunteers to provide the ingredients for a holiday dinner to those who otherwise would go without this holiday season. Nonperishable items may be brought to one of the above drop off locations by Wednesday, Dec. 13.

You can also help by purchasing a City Market gift certificate and bringing it to the Pagosa Springs SUN or mailing it to Operation Helping Hand, P.O. Box 1083, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. These certificates will be used to purchase turkeys and other perishable items.

Civic organizations and church groups have united to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure as many holiday season needs and wishes as possible can be accommodated.

Questions about Operation Helping Hand may be directed to the message line, 731-3735. A volunteer will return your call, if necessary.

Monetary donations can be made to Operation Helping Hand and deposited to account no. 6240417424 at Wells Fargo Bank or account no. 20014379 at Bank of the San Juans.

Donations may also be mailed to Operation Helping Hand, P.O. Box 1083, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.


Health service district considers hospital CEO candidates

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

Last Thursday, the Upper San Juan Health Service District and its board of directors held a public open house to introduce possible candidates for the chief executive officer position of a new hospital in Pagosa Springs. According to board chair Neal Townsend, two applicants are currently under consideration and a decision could come soon.

The district board began the CEO selection process with the appointment of a four-person hiring committee. Those appointed include Bob Scott and Dr. Jim Pruitt, current members of the district board, J.R. Ford, chairman of the district's construction committee, and former Pagosa Springs town manager Jay Harrington. Harrington is considered an independent member with ample hiring experience.

The hiring committee received several applications in response to advertising, and ultimately evaluated 13 or 14 candidates, before trimming the list to nine. Further scrutiny cut the number to five, all of which were then subjected to online assessments. Due to specific compensation demands, three more eventually dropped out of the running, leaving the two finalists now being considered for the CEO position.

Thursday's 6 p.m. event allowed medical professionals and residents of the district to meet the candidates in a catered social setting, ask questions and learn more about them. Townsend thought the event was well attended, while board co-chair Michelle Visel said, "The place was packed." The event took place at the former location of the Unfortunate Sausage restaurant on Bastille Drive.

The two candidates the hiring committee, and ultimately the entire district board, must chose between include Tim Bishop of Estes Park, and Ronald Ommen of Jackson, Wyo.

When asked their impressions of the two, Townsend said, "both appear more than qualified" for the position, while Scott claimed, "either one would be a quantum leap over anything we've ever had before."

Bishop is the current administrator of financial services for the Estes Park Medical Center, a 15-bed critical access acute care facility with a 24-hour emergency department, round-the-clock ambulance service, emergency air transport, medical/surgical services, obstetrics, home health care and hospice. He holds advanced degrees in accounting, management information systems, business administration and health administration, and has worked in health care since 1982.

Ommen is presently the administrator and CEO at St. John's Medical Center in Jackson, and holds advanced degrees in business, hospital and health care administration, and has worked in the medical field since 1972.

The current St. John's facility, built in 1991 and renovated just last year, has 108 total beds, with 48 in acute and primary care, and 60 in long-term care. The center offers a full range of medical services, including emergency, surgery, obstetrics, intensive care, home-based care, hospice, oncology, chemotherapy and radiology, respiratory care, rehabilitation and social services.

On Friday, following Thursday evening's social gathering, each of the two CEO prospects alternately met with the hiring committee and a seven-member citizens committee for further review. In due course, the citizens committee will complete its evaluations and select a preferred candidate.

When the citizens committee makes its choice, the hiring committee will consider it and anything else relevant, before presenting its own endorsement to the full USJHSD board, probably at its next regular meeting in early December. At that time, the board can either accept the committee's recommendation, or refuse it and begin a new search for additional applicants. However, based on opinions expressed by at least a few board members, that doesn't appear likely.

Once hired, the new CEO will assume responsibilities as soon as possible, in order to oversee actual building of the new 11-bed critical access facility, adjacent to the former Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center on South Pagosa Boulevard. G.E. Johnson, the project contractor, estimates construction will take approximately 14 months.


Ritter announces first three members of new administration

Gov.-elect Bill Ritter has announced the first three senior staff members of his new administration: Jim Carpenter as chief of staff; Mary Kay Hogan as legislative liaison; and Trey Rogers as chief legal counsel.

"I'm pleased that these three extremely talented individuals have agreed to join the new administration," Ritter said. "We're putting together a dynamic team that will work tirelessly to fulfill the Colorado Promise and to solve real problems for people and businesses all across Colorado. This trio will form the backbone of an administration that will be committed to making Colorado a leader in education, health care, jobs and renewable energy."

Carpenter currently serves as the state director for U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, and was the chief of staff at the conclusion of former Gov. Romer's administration.

"I am honored and gratified that governor-elect Ritter has invited me to serve as his chief of staff," Carpenter said. "I appreciate his confidence and I look forward to doing my part to help fulfill the Colorado Promise."

Rogers, currently a partner with Rothgerber Johnson and Lyons, served as the Ritter for Governor campaign attorney and is counsel for the transition team. Hogan provided policy and legislative advice to Ritter during the campaign.

Carpenter, 46, served as press secretary, director of communications and chief of staff for former Gov. Romer. He also was campaign manager and deputy state director for U.S. Sen. and Rep. Tim Wirth, both in Colorado and in Washington, D.C.

From 1999 to 2004, Carpenter was director of public affairs for National Jewish Medical Center and Research Center. In March 2004, he left National Jewish to manager Ken Salazar's successful campaign for the U.S. Senate.

A Colorado native who grew up in Granby, Carpenter attended Georgetown University before receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He and his wife, Nancy, have two children: Emma, 16, and Nicholas, 11.

Hogan, a native of Lakewood, has been lobbying the Colorado Legislature since 1999. Prior to forming the firm of Aponte Hogan and Busam with fellow lobbyist Ruth Aponte, she served as a staff attorney with the Colorado Legislature's nonpartisan Office of Legislative Legal Services, where she worked on tax, transportation and land use legislation.

As a lobbyist in private practice, she has represented entities such as The Children's Hospital of Denver, the Colorado Bar Association, the Transplant Council of the Rockies, public school districts in Colorado Springs, and Colorado Counties Inc. During law school, she clerked for the Hon. Judge Gaspar Perricone in the 1st Judicial District.

Hogan, 36, earned her B.A. degree from the University of Arizona in 1992, and her law degree from the University of Denver in 1996. She is married to Matthew Hogan, a partner at the law firm of Sherman and Howard and son of former Colorado Lt. Gov. Mark Hogan.

Rogers, 39, a partner with Rothgerber Johnson and Lyons, has been with the law firm since 1997. He also has eight years of experience as a political and nonprofit fund-raiser and fund-raising consultant in Colorado, Oklahoma and Washington, D.C.

He is admitted to practice in all state courts in Colorado, the U.S. District Court, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Rogers is a graduate of the 2002-03 class of the Denver Metro Chamber Foundation's Leadership Denver Program. He was named one of the Denver Business Journal's "40 under 40" for 2006, and he was listed in the 2007 edition of Best Lawyers in America in the Government Relations Law category.

Rogers earned his B.S. degree in finance and real estate from the University of Colorado in 1989 and his law degree from George Washington University National Law Center in 1997.


Girl Scouts of Chaparral seek Hall of Fame nominees

Girl Scouts of Chaparral Council, Inc. is seeking nominations for their 2007 Hall of Fame event which will honor women in science, technology and engineering.

This annual event recognizes women for their professional accomplishments, achievements and contributions to their communities. Nomination criteria include: nominee has outstanding achievements and accomplishments in her profession, is involved in her community, how her life reflects the Girl Scout Promise and Law, and her Girl Scout experience, if applicable.

Nomination packets are available on the Girl Scouts of Chaparral Council's Web site at and from their Program/Service Center in Albuquerque. The nomination deadline is Dec. 15.

Nominations will be reviewed by a selection committee and honorees will be announced at the Hall of Fame event on May 5, 2007. The Hall of Fame dinner and silent auction will be held at the Albuquerque Embassy Suites Hotel. All proceeds from the event provide funding for the science, technology and engineering programs offered to more than 4,600 girls in New Mexico and southwestern Colorado. Since its inception in 2005, the Hall of Fame has generated more than $20,000 for Girl Scout program funding.

For more information about the 2007 Hall of Fame, contact Jennifer Lowe, fund development manager, at (505) 343-1040 or (800) 658-6768.


IHM launches capital campaign

By Mary Jo Revitte

Special to The SUN

Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Parish on Lewis Street is launching a capital campaign to expand its spiritual family home to meet needs for the next 50 years, according to an announcement made this week by Rev. Carlos Alvarez, pastor.

The theme of the campaign is "Build Upon This Rock," which comes from Jesus' statement to Peter: "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church."

Parishioners will stage "Rock Fest," an event to kick off the capital campaign, at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1 at the Pagosa Springs Community Center. Seven hundred invitations for a buffet dinner were sent to all parishioners and numerous community and church leaders. The event will feature door prizes and mementoes for all guests who attend.

Guests at "Rock Fest" will learn about Immaculate Heart of Mary's plans to build a $4 million complex on a 14-acre parcel of land that was donated in 2001 by the Grant Family. The parcel is located on South Pagosa Boulevard, south of U.S. 160. Plans call for construction of a church, religious education facility and a social hall.

The Rev. Arthur N. Tafoya, Bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo, will address the "Rock Fest" dinner guests. Master of ceremonies Alan Powdermaker, a parish friend and community resident for several decades, will introduce Father Carlos; Jim Paull, A.I.A., principal of JP Architecture in Denver, complex architect; and Rick Hampton of Black Bear Builders in Pagosa Springs, the project manager for construction of the complex.

Ron and Valerie Halvorson, chairpersons of the fund-raising committee, are helping with the "Rock Fest" to begin the capital campaign. They are part of "Living Stones," the group of parishioners who are working together to achieve the goal and construct the complex.

The parish drew the "Living Stones" name from the biblical reference: "Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ."

Under the leadership of Father Carlos, Immaculate Heart of Mary parishioners are praying steadfastly for the success of the effort to expand the parish to meet the needs of the growing Catholic community. The parish goal is to break ground at the end of May 2007.

The present parish church on Lewis Street will continue to serve the parish with 10 percent of all funds raised in the capital campaign set aside for maintenance.

Currently, more than four hundred families are registered members of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish. In 1893, Catholics in Archuleta County built St. Edward's, the first Catholic church in Pagosa Springs. The present church was built in 1948 and consecrated in May, 1949. The parish has four mission churches in the county: St. Frances Church in Frances; St. John the Baptist Church in Pagosa Junction; St. James the Apostle in Trujillo; and the Chromo Mission Station in Chromo.

For further information about the "Rock Fest," visit the parish Web site ( or call the parish office at 264-5702.


LPEA set to boost electric rates

La Plata Electric Association's Board of Directors gave preliminary approval Nov. 15 for an average electric rate increase of 6 percent.

The average residential customer is expected to notice an increase of $0.008 per kilowatt hour (or $5.05 per month), effective Jan. 1, 2007. LPEA completed a "Cost of Service Study," thus specific increases will depend on the rate classification of each residential, commercial and industrial customer.

The rise in rates is a direct result of wholesale power rate increases of 12.8 percent from Tri-State Generation & Transmission, from which LPEA purchases its electric power. Though LPEA has tightened operating budgets and is able to absorb some of Tri-State's increase, approximately $4.4 million in additional funds is needed to maintain reliable electric service to LPEA customers.

In September 2006, Tri-State notified LPEA and its sister co-ops that it would raise the price of wholesale electric power on Jan. 1, 2007. LPEA officials have been working steadily to ease the burden on its member-customers.

"Gasoline prices have soared. Heating oil and natural gas prices are taking flight. The last thing our members want to hear is more bad news about their energy costs," said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO. "Despite the best efforts of electric co-ops across the country to hold the line, the monthly electric bills are unfortunately heading up."

As Munro explained, Tri-State is raising rates to LPEA for a variety of reasons, the two most significant being the rapidly growing demand for power and the construction of new electric power generation plants to meet that demand. As Colorado and the West grow, so do the requests for electricity. To satisfy the new and forecast demand, Tri-State is endeavoring to generate more.

Power generation plants, be they run by natural gas, coal, hydro, nuclear or biomass, are significant capital investments. The increased demand for raw construction materials throughout the world, compounded by the natural disasters that have spurred industrial redevelopment, has necessarily increased construction costs.

"When demand for electricity exceeds the supply generated by Tri-State - which is currently occurring - the company must purchase the needed power in the open market," explained Munro. "Just like any commodity, buying on the spot market is generally the most expensive option, and that supply is rapidly decreasing."

With the current demand for power, Tri-State is in essence playing "catch-up" as it builds additional power generation plants. In years past, when generation exceeded demand, Tri-State had extra energy to sell, and did so on the open market. During those years, LPEA members enjoyed lower electric rates - a luxury that is not likely to happen anywhere in the industry in the foreseeable future.

"As you can see, the rate increase is largely driven by issues out of LPEA's control, even Tri-State's. These are global issues," said Munro. "We are entering into a huge paradigm shift in the energy business. We all use that wonderful thing called 'electricity' and it has and continues to improve our lives in so many ways. But as we continue to use more and more, we must also use it more wisely and more efficiently. There will be many new power plants constructed in the next several years to meet the American demands, but we will also be engaging in a lot of conservation and energy efficiency efforts. The world faces a new era of increased global competition for limited energy and other resources. What we have to do is get used to the changes, and find ways to make those changes work for all of us."

A mandatory comment period will be observed prior to the LPEA board's final adoption of the rate tariffs at its regularly scheduled meeting Dec. 20. Every effort will be made to inform co-op customers, and the increases for each rate classification will be delineated in display advertisements in this newspaper, inserts in LPEA bills and online at


Neighbors express concern about noise, safety at Stevens Field

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

Based on recent noise complaints from residents living southwest of Stevens Field, airport manager George Barter is working to correct an electrical problem, and draft a new policy that will hopefully abate the matter.

At the Archuleta County Airport Advisory Commission regular monthly meeting Thursday, nearby resident Carol Martin and neighbors voiced concern over what they describe as an increase in noisy low-flying aircraft over their homes.

"Jet aircraft landing to the north is becoming a real concern," Martin said in a recent phone interview. "It wasn't a problem this summer, but since September and October, they've been coming in real low, well below the 1,000 feet required."

Barter suggested that most jet aircraft are considerably larger than the smaller piston-engine planes, and often appear much lower, even while flying at the same altitude.

Martin, however, claims to have seen golfers duck down on the nearby course, while shouting profanities, as drivers on Piedra Road stop to avoid an apparent collision with incoming planes.

"When pilots come in from the south, they're supposed to maintain a minimum altitude over residential areas," Barter said. "But naturally, they have to line up and meet the runway at zero altitude, which unfortunately brings them in over houses sometimes."

Martin said corporate jets and smaller planes have approached Runway 1 (northbound) just over the rooftops and at all hours of the day or night. She believes the airport should be closed to general aviation at night, and suggested many others, like Gunnison and Telluride, are closed by a certain hour every evening.

Barter, on the other hand, explained that, while nearly all airports with runway lights are open to pilots round-the-clock, he has no authority to close Stevens Field, or require landings and departures from a specific direction.

"Direction is a matter of safety, with no set requirements," he said. "Wind is usually the determining factor."

According to Barter, because prevailing winds at the airport typically come from the south, pilots are encouraged to take off and land in that direction. "But sometimes," he added, "there isn't any wind, and pilots will come in and depart toward the north to take advantage of the slight uphill slope of the runway."

Martin also expressed concern with planes taking off from midfield, instead of utilizing the full length of the runway.

"A lot of times, they'll land from the south, drop something at the FBO (fixed base operations), then turn around and take off," she said. "It's local pilots that are largely responsible."

Barter agrees that taking off or landing at midfield is inappropriate. He pointed to the airport recommended Noise Abatement Procedures, which dictate, in part:

- Use full runway length for all takeoffs - no intersection departures.

- Please climb at best rate of speed until at least 1,000 feet above ground level (AGL).

- Piston aircraft make first RPM reduction as soon as safely possible.

- Runway 19 (south) departures fly a heading of 170 degrees magnetic until at least 1,000 feet AGL.

- Arrivals follow standard pattern entry and fly standard left-hand patterns. Maintain at least 2,000 feet AGL over populated areas until necessary to descend to traffic pattern (1,000 feet AGL piston, and 1,500 feet AGL turbine).

Another situation resulting in more recent approaches from the south relates to an ongoing electrical problem with the north Precision Approach Positioning Indicator (PAPI). Several attempts to correct the malfunctioning instrument have proved unsuccessful thus far and consequently, Barter believes pilots are choosing to land from the south as a precaution.

A PAPI is located at each end of the runway, and utilizes a series of automated lights to inform pilots of their altitude and angle of descent. While a 3-percent glide path is considered a suitable approach, all white lights indicate too high a level. All red means too low, with white over red meaning adequate.

While Martin is concerned with changing flight patterns at Stevens Field, she has no intention of becoming confrontational. She, herself, has a long history of flying in and out of the airport with her ex-husband, and looks upon recent airport improvements as favorable. In fact, she has lived near the field for 17 years, and originally signed and Avigation Agreement with the understanding that aviation activity imposes some impacts on her property. Martin only hopes airport authorities will work with she and the neighbors to mitigate their concerns.

Barter agrees.

In light of increasing complaints, he has written the first draft of an airport policy letter intended to help reduce aircraft noise. In it, he reminds all pilots that runway 19 is the preferred runway, in large part, because of prevailing winds. He recommends its use, and asks departing aircraft to utilize its full length and not execute intersection departures. He also reiterates a number of policies stated in the recommended Noise Abatement Procedures.

With major improvements recently completed at Stevens Field, and more planned for 2007, Archuleta County residents can expect ever increasing air traffic and all that comes with it. However, Barter will attempt to ease rising concerns, and neighbors like Carol Martin will likely see that he does.


Group forms to consider food, nutrition in schools

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

A collection of 23 concerned parents, educators and community members gathered last Tuesday to form an organization to advocate for improved nutrition and food services in Archuleta County schools.

The group is headed up by Crista Munro and Ronnie Doctor, two parents who participated in the construction of the school district's federally-mandated wellness policy last spring, with P.E. teachers, nurses and food service personnel.

The wellness plan sets goals and guidelines in the areas of wellness education, nutrition and physical health.

Munro and Doctor said the policy, instituted in July, made some positive changes - including rescheduling elementary lunch to follow recess and supporting the P.E. program - but argued that the district should now go beyond the general guidelines of the policy to further address and improve school nutrition.

An e-mail sent to potential participants said, "While some improvements have been made so far this school year, we both feel there is much more work to be done - work that will most likely take place over the next several years. To that end, we are forming a group of parents, teachers and community members who believe that children should be served minimally processed, healthy, additive-free foods as part of the school nutrition program."

The newly-formed group has four primary goals: In the short term, the group would like to see school meals with lower sodium, lower fat, no trans fat and reduced processed sugars; and the elimination of unhealthy vending on school premises. In the future, the group hopes for minimally processed meals prepared in school kitchens, rather than heated up after prepackaging and distribution; and menu consultation from a licensed dietician or nutritionist.

Doctor said the group is realistic, and (for example) will not call for the district to go organic, vegan or sugar-free, but members think it is possible and desirable to give students wholesome, old-fashioned meals, which give children and youth the nutrition needed to be attentive and learn.

Last Tuesday, the nutrition group established four committees - including public relations, liaison (to the school board and administration), research and fund-raising.

"We are diplomatic people ... we want to form a working relationship (with the district)," said Munro.

According to Munro, she and Doctor will meet with Superintendent Duane Noggle, Nancy Schutz (the district business manager) and Charlotte Lee (food services manager) Monday at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the district's nutrition policy and the goals of the new group of concerned citizens.

"We hope we can open the dialogue at this meeting," Monroe said.

The district is open to the discussion, as well, said Noggle: "We want to provide them with information ... we want to work with them."

As for the goals of the nutrition group, Noggle said, "Our desire is to achieve the same goals." However, he continued, the two entities need to work on coming to a mutual definition of the goals.

According to Noggle, the district already has to adhere to state and federal guidelines which address the nutritional value of meals. In addition, Lee must submit a sample menu to officials at the Colorado Department of Education to make sure it meets state requirements.

Regarding the limitation of processed foods, in favor of meals prepared in-house, Noggle warned that, though a desirable ideal, it would cost the district financially, since it would need to hire additional food service staff. That money, he suggested, could be better spent on instruction.

"We have to make choices," he said. "Our primary mission is education."

Munro and Doctor, for their part, argue that whole foods are cheaper to purchase than processed foods, which would help offset the additional personnel costs, and cite other districts that have successfully implemented in-house kitchens, without sapping funds for education.

A collection of successful progressive programs across the country are described at

As part of following government regulations and guidelines, the district is working with Pepsi to make its vending machine offerings more healthy, said Lee.

According to Lee, by this summer, sodas will be eliminated from vending machines and replaced by sports drinks and juices. Vending machines cannot be fully eliminated at present because of contracts with the distributor, said Noggle.

Sports drinks and juices have fewer chemicals and processed sugars than soda, and more nutrients, but they are still high in sugars and contain dyes and other additives.

According to Noggle, Chris Hinger, principal at the junior high school, wants all drinks except water eliminated from his school. School administrators have authority to decide what beverages are vended, said Noggle, so after the contract expires, the junior high will likely serve only water in its vending machines. Until then, sugared sodas have been replaced with diet sodas, by agreement with the distributor, said Noggle.

Diet sodas still contain chemicals, caffeine, dyes and artificial sweeteners.

Aside from vending machines, the high school store, run by the Future Business Leaders of American program (FBLA), offers other treats and beverages, including Sobe-brand drinks, some of which contain guarana, taurine and ginseng (all stimulants), with additional unregulated herbal content.

Noggle said that the nutrition issue goes far beyond the jurisdiction or power of the school district, and that if the district were to completely limit non-nutritive foods and drinks, students would still bring them in to the school.

"Nutrition is not just a school problem, it's a societal problem," Noggle said. "We want to be part of the solution ... but we can't solve it alone."

It is going to take parental involvement and governmental leadership and support, he said.

The latter may be a challenge in a society where new government mandates are often imposed without additional funding.

Noggle referred to a poster on his office door, which lists all of the responsibilities public schools have been asked to take on since the early 20th century, from drug prevention to sex education, thus limiting schools' ability to educate students effectively in core areas.

Noggle expressed worry that adding the responsibility of nutritional oversight would further distract schools from their true purpose, when in fact parents and society as a whole should be responsible for improving the nutrition of children.

But, on the other hand, Munro argues that schools are going to have to be a part of the social solution and that providing nutritive, healthy foods will actually improve the academic achievement, behavior and well-being of students - which will in turn help the district accomplish its main goal of educating citizens.

In future weeks parents, community members and district officials will take on this newly apparent social responsibility, cooperating together to consider and hone nutritional goals, while working within the framework of fiscal responsibility and the district's academic mission.

The next school board meeting will be held in the junior high library at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 12. The nutrition group will meet again at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 13 at Farrago. Both events are open to the public.


Five essential winter-driving tips

For those who experience a winter season, this time of year can be beautiful. But while a snow-covered landscape makes for some terrific photo opportunities, it can be one of the most treacherous times of year for drivers.

Ice, snow, sleet, and wind are just some of the weather variables present throughout the winter - leaving many drivers unsure of how to navigate wintery roads. To stay safe, it's important to heed some winter-driving tips.

1. Slow down - This is one of the most important pieces of advice you can get. Keep in mind that the speed limits posted are advisories for dry road conditions, and you should knock off a couple MPH when on treacherous roads, or when visibility is impaired.

2. Know road conditions - Keep abreast of the weather by tuning into weather reports. Also, some areas post advisories on digital signs along the roadway, often telling drivers to tune into a specific AM radio station for more information. Knowing what you're up against on the roads can help you make safer decisions when venturing out.

3. Leave room; look ahead - Reaction time and stopping ability can be inhibited by slippery roadways. Therefore, always keep an eye on what's going on ahead of you, being especially cautious for tow trucks and snow plows. Also maintain a greater space cushion between your car and those in front of you. Should someone lose control or stop suddenly ahead, you will have more time to adjust to the situation. Remember that trucks have an even longer reaction time, so don't cut off any.

4. Allow extra time - If you're feeling rushed to make it to an appointment or work, you may inadvertently speed up and risk an accident. Leave plenty of time to go to and from your destinations.

5. Maintain visibility - Clear snow and ice from your windshield, windows and from the head and taillights. You want to ensure you can see fairly well and can easily be seen by other motorists. Be sure that wipers are in good working condition so they can clean snow and melting precipitation from the windshield. Remember to shut the wipers off before turning off the vehicle. If not, your wipers could freeze to the windshield and you'll burn out the wiper motor when the blades try to return to the rest position the next time you start your car.


Meeting to be held for high school Regional Science Fair

San Juan Board of Cooperative Services is hosting a meeting for high school students interested in completing a research project for the 2007 Regional Science Fair.

The meeting will be held at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, at the San Juan BOCS office, 201 East Main St., third floor, Durango.

This is an opportunity to meet with other students, discuss ideas for projects, get information about the rules, or find a mentor to support your project.

For more information, contact Sheila at 247-3261, Ext. 222, e-mail or visit the Web site:


American Red Cross to offer classes

The American Red Cross will offer health and safety training classes at its Southwest Chapter office, 1911 Main Ave., Suite 282 in Durango during the next few weeks:

- Wilderness First Aid, Dec. 1-3; this extensive 16-hour course will be held Friday evening 6-9 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Cost is $125 and is valid for three years.

Class size is limited, so call 259-5383 now to register. Classes also can be scheduled for business locations.

Those interested in Emergency Response, or teaching Red Cross classes, should call to ensure that classes will be scheduled this winter.

Check out the Web site for future classes:



Colorado State Parks 2007 annual pass now on sale

Colorado State Parks 2007 annual passes are now available online at The 2007 pass is the perfect gift for family, friends, coworkers and clients, allowing admission into 41 state parks throughout Colorado.

Wrap up all of Colorado this season with one gift. Not only is the pass good for entrance to all 41 state parks throughout the year, but it also gives access to all the activities available at state parks - boating, fishing, hiking, camping, picnicking, RVing, wildlife viewing, bird watching, nature programs, and more. Buy your pass today to give the gift of the outdoors this holiday season. Gift certificates in any increment are also available and can be purchased at or by calling (303) 866-3437.

Annual passes also can be purchased at all Colorado State Parks. The 2007 annual pass is $55 and is valid from the date of purchase until Dec. 31, 2007. For more information, call (303) 866-3437.

Attracting more than 11 million visitors per year, Colorado's 41 State Parks are a vital cornerstone in Colorado's economy and quality of life, offering some of the best outdoor recreation destinations in the state. Colorado State Parks manages more than 4,000 campsites, 57 cabins and yurts, encompassing 246,000 land and water acres.

For more information on Colorado State Parks, visit


Southwest Conservation Corps starts education program

Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC), a nonprofit organization that employs a diverse group of young men and women to complete conservation projects on public lands, initiates its Education and Outreach Program (EOP).

In this multifaceted program, Corps members will work on conservation and community education projects, implement SCC's outdoor education program, manage the SCC Community Corps Program, participate in special events, and complete individual internships.

People age 21 and older interested in joining the Education and Outreach Program are invited to contact Paul Paradis by calling 259-8607, Ext. 1, or sending an e-mail to

Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) employs a diverse group of young men and women to support its mission of completing important conservation projects on public lands. Founded in 1998 to continue the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s, SCC's employment and educational projects are sponsored primarily by land management agencies and municipalities throughout the southwest region of the U.S. The organization is headquartered in Durango with a location in Alamosa, and in Tucson, Ariz. For more information, visit


Ron Chacey Member of the Year for garden club

By Frances R. Wholf

Special to The SUN

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, the Mountain High Garden Club met and honored Ron Chacey as the first annual recipient of the Mountain High Garden Club Member of the Year award.

The award was presented as the culminating activity for the year by Frances Wholf, garden club president. Ron was presented with an award certificate and a gift certificate to the Alley House.

Ron was unanimously selected by the membership for his many valuable contributions to the Mountain High Garden Club this past year. He has chaired the senior center garden project at the community center. The new senior garden is located at the entrance to the new section of River Walk which is currently under construction. Weeds and old mulch were removed; the area was tilled and soil amendments were added; giant rocks and trees were put in place; and, finally, perennial plants and new mulch were added.

All of this involved coordination on Ron's part with the grower, the parks and recreation department, PAWSD, the community center and our membership. The garden club hopes everyone in the community will enjoy the new garden, especially our seniors.

In addition to this major project, Ron has coordinated bulk garden supply orders for the members, presented programs and made valuable contributions at our meetings. He is very conscientious and works well with others to make the Mountain High Garden Club a success. The club genuinely appreciates Ron and all his contributions.


Visions of Chimney Rock dance in their heads

By Karen Aspin

Special to The SUN

As the spirit of gift giving comes upon us, the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association hopes their newly-released "Visions of Chimney Rock" book will be dancing in the heads of local residents as they compile their gift lists this year.

To give these gifts added value and interest, CRIA has teamed up with WolfTracks Bookstore and Coffee, located in the Pagosa Country Center, to provide a special book-signing opportunity. The event at WolfTracks will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1. So, bring your gift list and be prepared to make someone happy.

This new book, "Visions of Chimney Rock: A Photographic Interpretation of the Place and Its People," is the perfect present for history buffs, naturalists, mystery lovers, local residents who wish to create or extend their personal library collections, friends and relatives who have visited or you'd like to lure here, or just about any inquiring mind - young or mature.

In his introduction, Dr. W. James Judge notes, "This book presents an eclectic collection of subjects from archaeology to geology to history to the natural world of the Chimney Rock region. Of particular interest is the emphasis on the integration of the natural and cultural worlds expressed in the photos and the text. As a natural area, Chimney Rock is unmatched in diversity and the beautiful images contained herein speak well to the inspiration it provides."

Judge adds that the mix of captured text and images "offers a comprehensive insight into both the complexity and the mystery of Chimney Rock. They make both the archaeology and its interpretation all the more interesting."

The book is an exploration into this mysterious past, from its people; the place itself - the flora and fauna, the rocks, and structures, and the archaeoastronomy - to the various aspects of daily life for the Ancestral Puebloan people who inhabited the area long ago. It also addresses the Chimney Rock of today, with its outstanding volunteer program and its continued efforts to facilitate the return of local Native Americans as part of its future vision for this precious cultural asset.

Easy to read, "Visions of Chimney Rock" is 130 pages long, in a 6x9 format and contains 25 illustrations and 150 photos, most full color, of the enchanting Chimney Rock Archaeological Area.

Helen L. Richardson, project editor and freelance writer, said the volunteer book project had been 20 years in the making, and added it was time well spent. "The book has been quite popular with Chimney Rock volunteers and guests because it is a beautifully illustrated, comprehensive presentation of current knowledge of Chimney Rock, the people who lived here a thousand years ago, and their relationship to the Chacoan culture of the Four Corners region."

This long-awaited book is unique in that it is the only book known to feature Chimney Rock and its place in the fascinating Chacoan culture.

Among the contributors to the book are the names of many highly-regarded regional talents, including artist Denny Rose, whose original watercolor graces the cover. Writers include Jennie Ferrell, Joanne Hanson, Sharon Hatch, Bill Hawthorne, Peggy Jacobson, W. James Judge, J. McKim Malville, Elizabeth Ann Morris, Dick Moseley, Alan F. Peterson, Glenn Raby, Ron Sutcliffe, Dick and Ann Van Fossen, and Charley Worthman. Photos were contributed by Scott Allen, Bruce Andersen, Christie Calderwood, David Herrell, Jeff Laydon, Dick Moseley, John and Helen Richardson, the Anasazi Heritage Center, the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research at the University of Arizona, and the U.S. Forest Service Pagosa District.

Glenn Raby of the USDA Forest Service, Pagosa Ranger District is enthusiastic about the new book as a great gift and collector's item. "'Visions' is your doorway into the beautiful and unique world of the Chimney Rock people and their home. Even after a thousand years, this place bears their imprint and showcases their dreams. As a remembrance or an introduction, Visions brings Chimney Rock's history and culture to life." Raby encourages everyone to come out to the WolfTracks book-signing event and have a great time making mincemeat out of those long holiday shopping lists with one-stop shopping for a good cause.

"Visions" was published by CRIA as an educational resource. The soft-cover volume is well worth its $19.95 retail price, and all proceeds support the interpretive program and its mission.

The book-signing event is sponsored by CRIA, in partnership with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, San Juan National Forest, Pagosa Ranger District and WolfTracks Bookstore and Coffee. The Chimney Rock Web site, found at, provides details on the site, tours, and programs.


Register snowmobiles at SJMA site

San Juan Mountains Association (SJMA) sells snowmobile registrations at the San Juan Public Lands Center (National Forest and BLM office) in Durango, located off of U.S. 160 a half mile west of town.

Snowmobile users are reminded that, whether you are a resident or nonresident, state of Colorado registrations are now required. Cost is $20.25. SJMA provides them in Durango as a customer service. Navajo Lake, Ridgway and Lone Cone State Parks are the main locations for registration.

SJMA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to promote responsible care of natural and cultural resources through education and hands-on involvement that inspires respect and reverence for our lands. SJMA's annual 20-percent Holiday Bookstore Sale also takes place from Thanksgiving to Dec. 24, and includes books, maps, Smokey Bear memorabilia and interpretive clothing. Proceeds support educational programs on public lands.

For more information, 247-4874.



 Catch and Release

The coyote's howl stirs something deep

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

I woke before sunrise, rose and went to the door. As I approached, I peered through the portal's three narrow rectangular windows and studied the frozen world outside.

The predawn twilight had painted the valley in soft hues of rose and violet, and blades of grass, cloaked in frost, glistened in tones of silver.

I was dawdling and Milou was fidgeting. Dogs can take only so many hours cooped up indoors, and he was ready. He had spent the night in and wanted out.

I reached for the doorknob, braced for the cold, then turned the knob and pulled the door open slowly. Icy air rushed in through the narrow crack, and Milou wedged his nose between the door casing and the door itself, sniffed, nudged the door wide and dashed outside.

I followed.

We had barely taken two steps across the porch when a coyote's forlorn, sing-song call hit us. The sound penetrated deep, moving through the dawn with crystalline clarity, cleaving clean the stillness of the morning. We froze. The wild canine was close - perhaps just yards from the porch.

I crouched behind Milou, placed a hand on his back, and together we peered from the porch through the fence wire. The coyote howled again.

Milou stared across the yard toward the pasture. I scanned the yard proper, but in the rose-colored twilight, shapes lacked definition, shadows lingered black, their depths limitless and profound. We waited. Milou stood poised. His ears twitched and his eyes darted. He tentatively sniffed. He raised his head slightly, elongating his neck, and pointed his muzzle toward the sky as though preparing to respond with a howl of his own. He hesitated, then slowly lowered his head.

I listened and scanned the scene.

Five minutes passed. The coyote did not howl again.

Reluctantly, I ventured back inside with Milou, made coffee, and sat staring out the living room window. As I sipped, I hoped to glimpse the coyote darting across the yard.

As I sat waiting, it occurred to me that the coyote's howl had stirred something deep inside my psyche. The language of that wild canine music had unlocked a desire for a deeper connection to things wild, to a realm far removed from the human world. And I thought perhaps Milou, with the lilt of his head and the stretch of his neck, had sensed a linkage too, had appeared compelled to respond.

But as I replayed the moments in my head, it became clear that there was more than a porch fence separating us from the coyote. And although the fence was a simple barrier of wood and wire, it was much more than that. It was a chasm, a line of demarcation separating the domesticated from the wild, and it was a barrier Milou nor I would ever permanently cross.

And that is how things should be. There are places where humans should rarely tread and when they do, their passage should be temporary and should go unnoticed and unmarked. Those places are called wilderness, and the coyote represents those places, yet its presence in my yard says much about our collective fates. It tells me how far both species have come, how far both species are willing to go, and its howl speaks of what we stand to lose, of all that could ultimately be lost.



At what cost?

Dear Editor:

At what cost; the price of one pizza?

Shame, shame, shame Archuleta County, for voting down the proposed library mill levy increase! Kate Terry, retired teacher and longtime library volunteer must be pitching a fit up in heaven.

After years of giving freebies I would think the library must now institute some fee schedules for services, and this at a time when 44 million people in our country have very poor reading and comprehension skills. No wonder the U.S. of A. is falling so behind other countries in having a skilled work force. Oh well, we get what we pay for, right?

Kay Grams


Con game

Dear Editor:

There are political interests in the U.S. that require U.S.-made products to pay higher taxes than products imported into the U.S.

They call this "free trade."

Then these political interests are dumbfounded when the U.S. has revenue shortfalls.

Should we call this "a con game?"

Don Reid


Make patriotism real

Dear Editor:

I would like to relate to the readership a recent event that changed one of my holiday habits - perhaps it will change some others as well.

I, along with about 35 others, received a forwarded group e-mail from a family member, one of those mass mailings that one is encouraged to send on to as many others as you can. In excited language the author exhorted everyone to go to another Web site to send e-mails to our troops overseas. This was such a good thing to do because "It is free and it only takes a second."

Perhaps this is a good thing to do, but I was greatly offended by the suggestion that doing something for a "second" that is "free" is considered good for our soldiers. To me, this kind of feel good-do nothing patriotism is all wrong.

In spite of the fact that the leadership in our national legislature has changed, I fear that governmental support for our military will remain inadequate, especially ongoing care for the wounded who return home.

After firing off a reactionary e-mail to all on the list, I decided I would feel better if I did something that truly made a difference. To that end, my wife and I decided we would not exchange Christmas gifts with our adult relatives, rather, in their names we would contribute to an reputable organization that supports our wounded men and women and their families. We have also encouraged them to do the same.

We searched the Internet and were surprised to find the large number groups that are doing this work. It appears that many others find that more support is needed for our soldiers, veterans and their families as well.

Make your patriotism real Pagosa.

Steven Rolig


Realistic wages

Dear Editor:

There have been many articles in The SUN these last few weeks pertaining to local employers having difficulties finding qualified employees for their businesses; and, instructions to applicants as to how best to present themselves when applying for jobs.

I, myself, have been searching for an adequate position these last few weeks. Due to the fact that I wanted to stay at home and raise my children myself, I have been out of the work force "loop" for nine years. But, I have not been out of the "cost of living loop." I am well aware of what it takes to support a family. Yet, the positions I see available in Pagosa do not offer a wage that reflects this. And, please do not inform me of the fact that these wages are above minimum wage. What does minimum wage have to do with the current cost of living? I ask you, could these same employers support their families on the wage they are offering others?

Pagosa residents are always encouraged to "please shop locally and support our local businesses." Well, I, for one, do shop locally, and would appreciate it if the support was reciprocated in the form of employing me locally at a realistic wage. After all, "what goes around, comes around!"


Cheryl Stewart


Gobblers help

Dear Editor:

During this season, we pause to reflect on all that we're thankful for - our families, friends, good health and the freedoms we enjoy in this country. Because of that, we can't ignore those Americans who aren't as fortunate. The San Juan Gobblers Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is taking part in the NWTF's Turkey Hunters Care Program by providing turkeys to families in the area to help complete the centerpiece of an all-American Thanksgiving dinner.

Our chapter is very thankful to be able to help the Helping Hand organization during the holiday season here in Pagosa.

Since the inception of this program, "Turkey Hunters Care," in 2001, our chapters have extended a helping hand to their community by providing more than 38,850 turkeys to disadvantaged families during the holiday season.

Happy holidays,

The San Juan Gobblers


   Community News

The nuns are ready for the holidays, in 'Nuncrackers'

By Dale Morris

Special to The PREVIEW

The "Nunsense" nuns of Hoboken have put out calls and requests to the citizens of Pagosa Country for ongoing massages and extra oxygen in support of their daily rehearsals at the high school auditorium.

Although stronger physically and vocally every day for their dedication and commitment to "Nuncrackers," the nuns are weary by the end of the week. Learning vocals and choreography for a couple of dozen numbers is hard work! With just a couple of weeks before opening, the nuns and the rest of the cast of "Nuncrackers" are fine tuning their character development and performance presentations.

Mary McKeehan, once again portraying the infamous Mother Superior of the Little Sisters of Hoboken, will no doubt surprise you with several new skills she has taken on, primarily related to the Nutcracker Ballet (and I do mean ballet!).

Kathy Isberg shines in her vocals, inspiring us to rise from our seats and clap to the rhythm of the songs she presents.

Candy Flaming, ever present as the streetwise nun from Brooklyn, Sister Robert Anne, struts her stuff through many of her dancing solos.

Lisa Hartley expands her music field as she stars on stage as the lovable Amnesia, an endearing soul who sometimes has difficulty remembering things. Lisa is not only the musical director and teacher at the high school, but is also a longtime Music Boosters board member who usually works with our pit musicians. Go Amnesia!

Sister Mary Leo is played again by our own Amber Farnham, now a student at Fort Lewis College.

And Father Virgil Manly Trott features Jarret Heber, a sophomore at Pagosa springs High School in his MB debut. He says that he doesn't know what has been more fun - playing Virgil or hanging out and rehearsing with the nuns!

Mount Saint Helen's students will be played by Ricky Peterson, Colin Oliver, Brooke Hampton and Ami Harbison, all seen on stage last summer in "Joseph ..."

Director Michael DeWinter, who also dons the caps of both set and costume designer, is excited about offering this hilarious musical comedy to the Pagosa audience.

Musical Director Sue Anderson is thrilled to welcome newcomers Dan and Venita Burch to the pit band, along with Shawna Carosello as apprentice conductor.

Advance sale reserved tickets are now available at the Plaid Pony (731-5262). Tickets will also be available at the door.

"Nuncrackers," by Dan Goggin, plays at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and 2, with a 2 p.m. matinee Dec. 2. See


Holiday arts and crafts fair Saturday

During this special time of year when we're giving thanks, take some time to come out and support your local artists at the eighth annual Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair at the Pagosa Lodge, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25.

With so many talented area artists participating, the holiday fair is like an opportunity to shop at 40 unique specialty shops at one time in one place in our very own Pagosa Springs. Artists bring color and creativity to our world. Giving someone a hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind gift always has special meaning and value.

Some of the wonderful creations you'll see Saturday include hand-knitted scarves and mittens, always a welcome gift at this time of year. Handmade soaps and lotions are great for both men and women.

Several of the area's finest painters will be on hand, offering paintings on such unusual media as stones and feathers.

Embroidered and quilted items, including place mats, table runners, window coverings, quilts and even story books will be available. A variety of beautiful jewelry is sure to please, and jewelry boxes will be available to complete the gift. Seasonal wreaths, decorations, ornaments and baked goods appeal to everyone. Window charms, walking sticks, frames for your holiday pictures, bookmarks and so much more - you'll be sure to fill your entire holiday shopping list.

So, come out Saturday and experience some of the best arts and crafts that the Four Corners area has to offer in a festive and fun environment. It's a wonderful opportunity to get unique and beautiful gifts for your loved ones (and yourself) at this holiday shopping extravaganza.


Jazz in Pagosa Saturday night

By Paul Roberts

Special to The PREVIEW

Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse transforms into a charming concert hall this Saturday at 7 p.m., for Jazz in Pagosa with Teresa Ross and The Actual Proof Quartet.

By all accounts, Teresa Ross is on her way to becoming an important name in the jazz world. Her repertoire includes straight-ahead jazz, classic standards, bossa novas, a scattering of bebop and occasional special material.

The Actual Proof Quartet - Lee Bartley (piano), Bob Newnam (trumpet and flugelhorn), Bob Cordalis (bass) and Brad Tarpley (drums) - displays some of the finest musicianship in the Southwest.

A surprise guest has just popped into the equation: our own saxophone maestro, Bob Hemenger, will also be making an appearance!

John Graves will emcee the concert. Graves is known for his career in the television and film industries and for his virtuosity as a jazz pianist. It was Graves who introduced Elation Center for the Arts to Ross, through her stunning CD, "Better Than Anything." The CD is perusable through play samples on her Web site,

Graves is definitely a Ross fan. "Teresa has an innate sense of showmanship and a style which is exciting and distinctive," said Graves. "From an artistic standpoint, I think Teresa Ross has everything that any of the great jazz singers of the past have had - along with something new that she's adding. And when four outstanding musicians back her, it's a combination rarely found these days and not to be missed."

Ross obviously holds Graves in high regard. A review of her performance with Actual Proof is prominently displayed on her Web site.

Born in the Midwest, Ross enjoyed the gift of family music that spanned four generations. At the young age of 13, she became a professional singer. "I have sung many types of music," said Ross. "The first music I was ever exposed to was folk and bluegrass. That was the music we shared at home. I sang choral and religious music in school and church. My mom sang and played the guitar. She knew all the standards; they were the pop hits when she was a teenager. That's how I learned the music I sing today."

A thrilling element of Ross' performance is her gorgeous renditions of bossa novas. In Brazil, to do something with "bossa" is to do it with particular charm and natural flair, as in an innate ability. It's also an apt description of Ross, herself.

Come enjoy Jazz in Pagosa with Teresa Ross and The Actual Proof Quartet, when these wonderful performers journey to our village, extending our Thanksgiving festivities and holiday merriment, this Saturday, Nov. 25, 7 p.m. at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse.

Advance tickets, for $12, are available through and at WolfTracks Coffee House. Tickets at the door are $15 for adults and $5 for young people, 18 and under.

Desserts and coffee will be provided at intermission. Please bring a dessert to share if you wish.

Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse is located at 230 Port Ave. Take U.S. 160 to Vista Boulevard. Go north on Vista and turn left on Port.

Jazz in Pagosa with Teresa Ross and The Actual Proof Quartet is produced by Elation Center for the Arts. ECA serves the people of the Southwest and beyond, by cultivating an appreciation for the arts. For more information, log on to or call 731-3117.


Forms, Figures, Symbols through Nov. 28

By Denise Coffee

Special to The PREVIEW

Forms, Figures, Symbols, a juried exhibition of contemporary works, runs through Nov. 28 at Shy Rabbit. Exhibition hours are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 1-4 p.m. All are welcome.

Shy Rabbit also welcomes visitors during non-posted hours. Call (970) 731-2766 to confirm the gallery is open or to schedule an appointment. Tours are also available.

Forms, Figures, Symbol was juried by Gerry Riggs, retired assistant professor and gallery curator/director at the Univ. of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The show has been viewed by over 350 visitors since opening on Oct. 26.

This expansive exhibition hosts 59 unique works of art, representing 43 regional and national artists working in various mediums.

Shy Rabbit is located at 333 Bastille Drive, B-1 through B-4, one block north of U.S. 160 off of North Pagosa Boulevard. Parking is available directly in front of the Shy Rabbit arts complex.

For additional information on Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts shows, events and programs, visit


Arts Alliance feasibility study underway

By Dale Morris

Special to The PREVIEW

The Arts Alliance, along with representative consultants from the Arts Consulting Group based in New York City, began work Oct. 4, 5 and 6 necessary to complete the elements of Phase I of Pagosa's feasibility study.

ACG had already begun the process before they arrived in Pagosa, through the review and analysis of documents, studies, reports, graphs, maps, charts and statistics provided by Arts Alliance members and through independent research and studies of their own. They were surprised at not only the amount and level of expertise and talent found in a town the size of Pagosa, but also by the numbers and variety of arts-related activities available here.

The ACG consultant team is represented by Willem Brans, vice-president of the Arts Consulting Group from NYC (and project leader for the Pagosa Study), and William B. Allison III of Jones & Phillips Assoc., Inc. of Lafayette Ind., who specializes in theatrical consultation and design.

While in Pagosa, Brans and Allison conducted more than 20 formal confidential interviews with individuals, organizations, and town and county representatives in Pagosa, seeking information, opinions, thoughts and recommendations. During community tours, they explored over a dozen potential building sites, as well as visiting more than 18 current and past performance venues. Additionally, they were guests at a cocktail party hosted by the Arts Alliance, where both offered a brief presentation explaining their process and services, held informal interviews and answered questions from guests attending.

Phase I of the Feasibility Study focuses on reviewing existing economic data and community studies, assessing audiences, facilities, programming needs and history and potential building sites; identifying what physical requirements of facility space might be recommended, and preliminary cost estimates; and gathering as much information, history and factual representations as possible. Based on their initial findings, ACG will issue a preliminary report to the Arts Alliance board.

If you are interested in being part of this community project, contact Susan Neder, president of the Pagosa Springs Arts Alliance at 731-4735.


Church bazaar orders due by Nov. 29

By Lori Moseley

Special to The PREVIEW

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Community United Methodist Church

If you have not placed your order for Christmas wreaths or table arrangements - please hurry. Your last day to place an order is Wednesday, Nov. 29.

Daily, 40 to 50 workers volunteer their time and talents at the bazaar. Area residents are welcome to visit the workers as they create wreaths and table arrangements. The wreaths are produced thanks to the mechanics of wreath-making machines that clamp the fresh greenery onto wire rings. Dedicated artisans decorate the wreaths and create lovely table arrangements.

We will be closed during the Thanksgiving weekend, so bazaar workers can enjoy the holiday with their families. Our order desk will reopen at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 27.

The church is located at 434 Lewis Street in downtown Pagosa.

Prices for basic wreaths of pinecones and red velvet bows are $20 (8-inch inside width) and $35 (14-inch inside width). Table arrangements begin at $15. Stop by the church to see a wonderful display of these items and place your order. Call the bazaar desk at 264-4538 for additional information.


In Step Dance Club gets ready for two-step

By Deb Aspen

Special to The PREVIEW

The In Step Dance Club's "Hallo-Weenie Costume Bash" held Oct. 28 at the Jackson/Aspen spook house, howled out its ghoulish shrieks and creaks until well into the darkest hour of the night.

Upon arrival, one had to decide whether to heed a warning from the rocks that shrieked "Go back, stay away," or proceed at considerable risk. To the left of the eerie scene was the skeleton of a long-ago insurgent dangling from a noose at the gate of an old graveyard. A couple of shallow graves, one with a bloody foot hanging out, and the other with a still-moving hand resting on top, edged the entryway and suggested tiptoeing through the graveyard so as not to wake the "almost dead."

A ghost jumped up behind one tombstone, while thunder and lightning and outlandish laughter came from the other. As if that wasn't frightful enough, gulping back arachnophobia, one then had to beware of the flashing red-eyed black spider on the prowl, and dodge the giant purple-people-eating spider in the right corner of the haunted porch. If you made it through the door with hair intact, you were ghoulishly greeted by a tuxedoed, singing, dancing skeleton: Mr. Bones, the doorman.

Inside, it was evident that everything was more or less under control, as indicated by the Wicked Witch of the West's melted blob on the floor underneath "Scream's" main character, hung safely out of reach in the stairwell.

The Bash began, and what a delightful bash it was. Everyone, including The Count, was there, dressed in foulish finery, and depicting a wide variety of characters. The lights were appropriately purple, the music was monstrously marvelous, and the food ... ahhhh. The evening's potluck menu included Hallo-Weenies, Eyeball Deviled Eggs, Monster Munch with Toasted Toenails, Nasty Nuts, Fresh Cut Finger Cookies, Elk and Deer Droppings, Ghosts on Broomsticks, Mexican Pie, Spook Salad Annie, Live Clam Chowder, and Barbecue Bat Wings. Drinks were equally tantalizing: Cock-Tails, Rummy Cokes, Bloody Marys, Witches' Tonics, Tequila Sunsets, and Snake Venom Punch.

In the midst of all the ghostly wining and dining, personalities voted on their favorite costumes as well. The "favorite gal" was Liz Parker as she paraded around as a gorgeous blond wrapped up in a huge Christmas box with the name tag that said, "God's Gift To Men." Incidentally, her counterpart, Wayne Lauffer, aka Elvis, was wrapped up in an equally tempting package labeled, "God's Gift To Women." What an original idea!

The ghastly gang voted for the Pirate Captain as their pick for favorite guy costume. Unrecognizable, that is until he smiled, was the one-eyed, black-bearded Jerry Granok. Just in case a UFO (unidentified freaky object) appeared, there was the category of "It" to be selected. In this case, the prize went to Roz Marshall who said her caricature was something between "Goth" and "Elvira." Congratulations to all the winners, and a special thanks to all who attended from the hosts: Matt Dillon and Kitty.

Next on the horizon for all country dancers in the community is an Intermediate country western two-step workshop and hoedown scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 3 at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse, 230 Port Ave. Registration will begin at 2:45 p.m. with the workshop starting promptly at 3. The cost is only $10 per person, with all the proceeds going to the visiting professional, Ben Snell.

There will be a half-hour intermission with refreshments provided by In Step Dance Club midway to 6 p.m., followed by a potluck dinner and the hoedown. It is required that you have some experience in the fundamentals of CW two-step prior to this workshop, as this is not intended for the beginner. You do not have to be a member to attend, but you do need to be at least 16 years of age to attend any or all of the events of the day. Anyone, however, who likes all types of country dancing is invited to join us for the potluck and dance beginning at 6:15, even if you don't attend the workshop.

Ben Snell is traveling from Albuquerque just for the day, to teach us all some very fun moves in the CW two-step. Ben is currently a dance instructor at the Arthur Murray Studio. He is one of our favorite people in the world, with his contagious laugh and witty way of teaching. It will be a day of side-splittin', boot-scootin' fun, to be sure. Ben is known in the Arthur Murray organization as "swing king," and has choreographed many a hot swing numbers in his day. He has agreed to dance with me, doing the Lindy Hop routine that won acclaim last February at the Winter Showcase in Albuquerque. More on Ben Snell in next week's PREVIEW

For more information, call Deb Aspen or Charles Jackson at 731-3338.


Pagosa shows its heart with Operation Christmas Child

By Nancy Burke

Special to The PREVIEW

Gift-filled shoeboxes from area churches, groups, and caring individuals were delivered to the Operation Christmas Child Relay Center at Pagosa Bible Church this past week.

Seven Hundred and forty-five decorated boxes were filled with toys, clothing, hygiene items, musical instruments, candy, and love for needy children around the world. Many people included pictures and cards in their boxes. Perhaps the children who receive those boxes will one day send a letter to the donor.

The boxes will now begin their journey to Durango's collection center, then on to the processing center in Denver. There are six processing centers around the country that will prepare over 4 million boxes for shipping from the United States.

The boxes will be shipped on container ships, trucks and planes to more than 90 countries. Each country has a national team that arranges transportation of the boxes by boats, trucks, camels, sleds or donkeys - whatever it takes to get them delivered.

The excitement, joy, and hope that these boxes bring to children in orphanages, village and schools epitomize the Christmas spirit. Many thanks to our generous community - our churches, Rotary, the Boy Scouts, Ponderosa Do It Best, and many individuals.


'Birthing, Living, Giving, Thanking'

By Tina Rector

Special to The PREVIEW

How's your spiritual life going this year? Are you mired in the minutia of everyday life and giving no time or energy to your spiritual life? Are you focused on the negatives in life so much that you can't even start to see the positive? Or, are you able to see beyond such things and live life openly thankful for the gift of life itself? Are you able to tap into that greater essence of the spiritual "you" and consciously grow that aspect of your life?

On Nov. 26, at 11 a.m. at the Four Corners Center for Spiritual Living, Mark Gilbert will give a talk entitled "Birthing, Living, Giving, Thanking" which touches on these topics. Mark is a licensed Religious Science Practitioner and a senior ministerial student with the Holmes Institute in Denver

As we have gone through the year, we may have found it easy to get absorbed into our day-to-day activities and forget our spiritual path and the truth of who we are as spiritual beings. Yet, as the year winds down and the seasons change and we go into a period of external world dormancy, it is the perfect time for us to turn inward and take stock of our lives. It is time, with Thanksgiving as a reminder, to give thanks for the gifts our lives are. It is time, with Christmas, to give birth to a new and greater vision for our lives, and to acknowledge that Christ presence always birthing within us. And, it is time as the New Year approaches, to move forward into higher levels of living our lives from this truth.

Our lives are continuously and perfectly always evolving in an upward spiral. We are continuously birthing the higher and higher expression of what lives were meant to be. From that space, we can choose to see the glorious gift of life, one from which we can give our gifts in perfect circulation, express our appreciation and thanks and continue to evolve even higher. We can continue to grow and transcend our current life, yet include all that we have learned as we give birth to a new and wonderful expression of who we can become. Come join our community on this day and consciously explore taking your life up the spiral to a greater and grander vision of who you are. Your life is calling to you.

Join us Nov. 26 and explore with Mark how this time of year, from Thanksgiving to Christmas and on to New Year's, is the perfect time for us as individuals to renew and recommit to our personal spiritual growth.

All are welcome at our Center. Sunday services are at 11 a.m. at Heartlight Wholistic Center, corner of North and Pine Streets, in Bayfield (south side of U.S. 160). Services held the second and fourth Sunday of the month. For more information, call (970) 884-4889.


Peace Corps topic at UU service

On Sunday, Nov. 26, Melva Steen will speak at the Pagosah Unitarian Universalist Fellowship service on "The Peace Corps and Me."

Steen is a retired nurse and is president of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pueblo, Colo. In addition, she is chair of the nursing program, Colorado State University at Pueblo.

She cites herself as proof that you are never too old for adventure or for sharing your talents with the world. She will speak about her fascinating two years, from 2003-2005, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi, Africa.

Sunday services start at 10:30 a.m. in the Pagosah Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall, Unit 15-B, Greenbriar Plaza. Child care and/or the Religious Education program for children 3 years old and up are offered every Sunday except the second Sunday of the month, which is a meditation service.

Turn east on Greenbrier Drive off of North Pagosa by the fire station, then left into the back parking lot and look for the big sign. All are welcome.


Shabbat services at Congregation Kadima Yisrael

The Jewish community of Pagosa Springs Congregation Kadima Yisrael will hold Shabbat services at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall. All members of the Jewish community of Pagosa and surrounding areas, relatives and friends are invited to attend.

Dr. Jon Zissman will conduct services. An Oneg Shabbat will follow.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall is located in suite B15 in the Greenbriar shopping center. Go north on North Pagosa Boulevard, past the fire station and turn right onto Greenbriar and left into the shopping center. The meeting hall is located around the back. Going south on North Pagosa, turn left on Park and a right into the shopping center.

If you have questions, call 731-9610 or 731-2012.


Let the holiday magic begin at the Festival of Trees

By Mercy Korsgren

Special to the PREVIEW

The committee has completed plans for the Festival of Trees - a new holiday traditions.

This exciting and fun event will be hosted by the Pagosa Springs Community Center. Organizers admit that this is not an original idea, but they are happy to start it here for the benefit of our community. Nancy Strait and Janis Moomaw are co-chairing this event, and their support, help and enthusiasm were instrumental in making this festival a reality.

Imagine sponsoring and decorating a tree, then selling it, with proceeds going to a local non-profit organization or local family. In addition, the cost of the purchased tree will be a tax-deductible donation.

Local artists and crafters, those with great talents in decorating, sponsors and organizations are invited to participate. On Dec. 6-8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, decorated holiday trees will be on display in the multi-purpose room for the public to view and enjoy free of charge. A holiday party, with admission charge, takes place 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8. At 8:08 p.m. the trees will be auctioned off. It will be a live auction.

Admission to the party and auction is $15 per person with Wildflower Catering providing hors d' oeuvres. The evening's entertainer will be John Graves. Guests will enjoy his music while sipping a drink, nibbling on Amy and Joanne's delicious food and making hard decisions about which tree to take home or donate. The center will provide hot and cold beverages and a cash bar will be available. To make the evening more festive, we ask guests to dress-up and make this festival a very special holiday tradition. Admission tickets will be available at the door.

Those who wish to sponsor a tree should sign up at the center by Wednesday, Nov. 29. Purchase your tree (strictly 6- to 8-feet tall) and decorate it here at the center. Real trees are preferred, but not mandatory. Decoration of trees will take place 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 4 and 5.

For more information, call Mercy at the center, 264-4152, Ext. 22, Janis Moomaw, 264-3010, or Nancy Strait, 731-3427.


Pagosa Springs Film Society to screen 'An American in Paris'

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, the Pagosa Springs Film Society will screen and discuss the classic 1951 musical "An American in Paris," starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.

This academy award winner features one of the most spectacular dance sequences ever filmed, along with the wonderful music of George Gershwin and the wry humor of Oscar Levant.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the 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 back parking lot and look for the big sign. A suggested $3 donation will benefit the Friends of the Library.


Chuck Bob at the Movies

'The Da Vinci Code,' an exceptional mystery film

Charles Streetman

PREVIEW Columnist

New to DVD is one of the most talked about movies of the summer and one of my favorite movies of 2006 - Ron Howard's film adaptation of author Dan Brown's controversial best selling novel, "The DaVinci Code."

The film opens with the murder of one of the Louvre's senior curators in Paris. In his final moments of life, and in his own blood and some kind of invisible ink, he leaves a series of cryptic messages and symbols written on Leonardo Da Vinci's famous paintings, as well as on and around his own body.

Summoned to the Louvre is respected American symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks, "Philadelphia"), who was scheduled to meet with the deceased earlier that day. There, Langdon meets Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno, "The Professional") and French cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou, "Amelie"), who also happens to be the estranged granddaughter of the murdered historian.

While brought to the Louvre under the pretense that his expertise is needed to decipher symbols left at the scene, Langdon learns that Capt. Fache has labeled him the main suspect. Sophie, on the other hand, believes Langdon to be in great danger and assists in engineering his escape. She bravely attempts to get Langdon to the safety of the U.S. Embassy, only to find it surrounded by France's finest.

After giving Fache and his fellow officers the slip, the two gather and combine their intellectual powers to decipher the many clues hidden within the Louvre and the items left by Sophie's grandfather. As they journey to places holding more keys to the mystery, they discover a greater conspiracy beyond the murder. This leads them on a hunt for answers to a secret that could very well shake the foundations of Christianity as we know it.

They are not alone in search of these answers: Members of a secretive council within a religious sect of the Catholic Church known as Opus Dei are determined to find these secrets so they can destroy them along with anyone who knows of them - since the secrets would expose the Church and the power church authorities wield worldwide. One Bishop Manuel Aringarosa (Alfred Molina, "Spider-Man 2") and his very devoted and disturbed albino monk, Silas (Paul Bettany, "A Knight's Tale"), play pivotal roles in this mission.

Running at 2 1/2 hours, the film tends to drag at times, mainly when Langdon and Sophie's search is slowed down with extensive scenes featuring explanatory dialogue that fill the viewer in on much of the historical foundation of the film's controversial theory. For the sake of those who have not read the discussions and protests over this film, and despite the fact the reveal actually happens less than halfway through the feature, I will refrain from giving it away here. Though the big mystery behind the intricate clues is revealed less than halfway through the film, the remainder of the film leads to something of a treasure hunt for the final clues and the answers about the location of the physical evidence that supports the film's theory.

I found Dan Brown's theory fascinating, in an entertaining way. Many of the clues and much of the history used to make his theory believable were clear, added up and made sense, rather than just being a thought-provoking mess of religious psychobabble. I found myself riveted, waiting to see what Langdon and Sophie would discover next that would lead them closer to the answers they sought. The fact that they confess to a somewhat agnostic view of Christianity in the beginning makes for an interesting dynamic.

My only complaint about the film would be Tom Hanks' character and performance. His character, Robert Langdon, is such a wooden and underdeveloped protagonist. Little is revealed about him outside the fact that he's an expert symbologist and that he's claustrophobic, which gave Hanks very little to work with, and left me desiring more from the character.

The one character with the most depth was Silas. The film touches on his traumatic past - from a badly abused child who murdered his own father at the age of 7, to when he found refuge and peace in the pity and mercy of Manuel Aringarosa - at the time, only a priest. He is deeply disturbed and practices severe corporal mortification as an act of repentance for his transgressions.

Aside from Hanks' performance and occasional dragging points in the plot, "The Da Vinci Code," makes for some very satisfactory entertainment. It's provocatively astute and thrilling, though a little predictable at times.

If you're looking for an exceptional mystery film, check this one out.

There is only the two-disc special edition version of the film released on DVD. It comes packed with many special features. Most of these features are behind the scenes featurettes, including one that includes a conversation with author Dan Brown. The DVD ROM features include a demo of a "Da Vinci Code" puzzle game for the PC.


Community Center News

Have a great Thanksgiving

By Becky Herman

PREVIEW Columnist

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the Pagosa Springs Community Center.

The center will be closed Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 23, 24 and 25.

Festival of Trees

Plan to attend the party and the auction.

Volunteers are still recruiting individuals and organizations to sponsor trees for the festival. Each tree will be 6- to 8-feet tall; real trees are encouraged but not mandatory. After the decorating, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 4-5, the trees will be on display to the public for three days, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 6-8. Viewing on these days is free of charge.

At the end of the week, from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 8, we'll have the party and the auction. Decorated trees will be auctioned off beginning at 8:08 p.m. This will be a festive celebration featuring music by John Graves. Plan to be here to see all the trees, choose one to purchase, and have a drink and finger food catered by Wildflower Catering. The money from the auction will go to local non-profits; each tree's decorator and/or sponsor will choose the non-profit organization which will receive the proceeds from the auction. This promises to be the beginning of a wonderful holiday tradition in our community. Admission for the party and auction is $15 per person. A cash bar may be available. Also, this event is a dress-up occasion.

For more information, or if you wish to sponsor a tree, call Mercy, 264-4152, Nancy Strait, 731-3427, or Janis Moomaw, 264-3010.

New Year's Eve dance

And speaking of holiday celebrations, plans are being finalized for the New Year's Eve dance. You will be able to enjoy hors d'oeuvres and dessert. The cash bar will offer beer, wine and champagne. This is a 21-and-older event. Advance tickets will be $20 per person, or you can buy at the door for $25. Plan to come and dance to the music provided by John Graves & Company. Watch for further details.

Foodies' Club

The Club will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29. This monthly get-together is for folks who enjoy preparing and eating good food. The group also encourages members to experiment with new tastes and food preparation techniques. This time, Michelle has asked everyone to bring a favorite drink as well as an appetizer or finger food.

These events are always fun; the food is great, the conversation is wonderful. It's a relaxing evening. If you would like to join in, call the center for an invitation. There is no charge, but we do need to know if you plan to attend.

Yoga class

The Yoga Journal Web site ( offers free newsletters which offer inspiration, yoga history, ideas for healthy eating, stress relief, and more. Check it out. I tried two of these and found some really wonderful information.

Thanks to Addie Greer who has agreed to lead the class while Diana Baird takes some time off from teaching.

The yoga class is held at 10 a.m. Tuesday mornings - 30 minutes earlier than it used to be. Bring a yoga mat and dress in comfortable clothing. Call the center at 264-4152 for more information.

Line dancing

Line dancing will continue through Dec. 4, take a break for the holidays, then resume Jan. 8.

If the couples group votes to continue an extra week, it will meet at 9:10 a.m. as agreed upon by the group. Gerry wishes everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and hopes to see all of you in January.

The beginning dance group meets at 9 before line dancing. This is a very basic class. The object here is to encourage men just to get up and move around the dance floor using some very simple steps of the two-step and waltz. Call Gerry for a free private introduction if interested. Line dancing rocks on at 10 for beginners, and at 10:30 there is dancing for those who are more advanced. Call the center at 264-4152 for more information.

Several members of the line dancing group have pledged money to purchase additional dance floor panels. We'll announce these generous donors in next week's PREVIEW.

Managing Diabetes

The regular December meeting has been canceled because of the Christmas holiday; the next meeting will be held Jan. 18.

eBay Club

Join Ben Bailey on the first and third Wednesday of each month if you are interested in being a part of the eBay Club. The meetings begin at 5:30 p.m. and end at 7:30. Call Ben at 264-0293 or the center at 264-4152 for more information.

Computer lab news

Week two of the beginning classes prompted me to prepare five handouts. One of them, keyboard shortcuts, is a seven-page guide to using a standard Windows keyboard.

Did you know that it is possible to shut your computer down and never touch your mouse or keypad? Most things which are usually accomplished with your mouse can be done with only the keyboard. These so-called shortcuts are often speedier and more efficient than reaching for the mouse, positioning it and clicking to make something happen.

Stop by the center if you are interested in any of the class handouts. Call the center at 264-4152 for information about these classes or any of the community center-sponsored programs which are offered free of charge as a service to the Pagosa Springs community.

Center hours

The community center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 10 to 4.

Activities this week

Nov. 22 - Beginning computing class for seniors, 10 a.m.-noon; Aikido, 1-3 p.m.; C Team basketball, 3:45-5:30 p.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; Weight Watchers, 4:45-6:45 p.m.

Nov. 23, 24 and 25 - Closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Nov. 26 - Grace Evangelical Church service, 10 a.m.-noon; Church of Christ Sunday service, 10 a.m.-noon; Baby shower, 2-5 p.m.; High Roads Baptist Church, 6-9 p.m.; Fairfield Activities information meeting for time-share visitors, 6-8 p.m.

Nov. 27 - Line dancing, 10-11:30 a.m.; senior walking program, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; Bridge-4-Fun, 12:30-4 p.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; baton twirling lessons, 3:45-4:45 p.m.; C Team basketball, 3:45-5:30 p.m.

Nov. 28 - Over-the-Hill Hoopsters, 8-9 a.m.; insurance benefits for small companies, 9 a.m.-noon; beginning computing class, 10 a.m.-noon; yoga, 10:00-11:30 a.m.; United Blood Services blood drive, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; senior walking program, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; youth basketball, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Nov. 29 - PSAAR training, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; beginning computing class for seniors, 10 a.m.-noon; Aikido, 1-3 p.m.; C Team basketball, 3:45-5:30 p.m.; Teen Center open, 4-8 p.m.; Weight Watchers, 4:45-6:45 p.m.; Foodie cocktail holiday night, 6-8 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

History in our midst - Archuleta Roots Days

By Jeni Wiskofske

SUN Columnist

Were you born or raised in Pagosa Springs?

Are your roots here in Archuleta County?

Well it's time to acknowledge those people with long life ties to the place that we all now call home.

The Den would like to recognize folks 60 and older who have lived most of their lives in Archuleta County, on Archuleta Roots Day, Thursday, Nov. 30. There will be health screenings, informative presentations and materials available, and a delicious free lunch with dessert and prizes.

To kick off the festivities for our homegrown seniors, the San Juan Health Department will hold a blood draw clinic at The Den at 10 a.m. The blood health screening will be for cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, Body Mass Index, pulseoximetry, and spirometer. Participants are asked to fast at least 12 hours for accurate results and a $15 donation is suggested.

At 11 a.m., join us for a Medicare presentation including information on the Medicare D program. There will also be tables set up with helpful information on a variety of topics, from diabetes to the senior center activities. At 11:30 a.m., we will be entertained with music by the talented John Graves on piano. Then, at noon, we will sit down to a free, delicious lunch including roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, dinner roll, salad bar and apple crisp for dessert, compliments of The Den, to honor those folks with Archuleta Roots (donations accepted).

We will have first, second and third prizes for those who have lived in Archuleta County the longest.

If you want to participate in this cheerful affair, reservations must be made with The Den by Monday, Nov. 27. Please give your name and tell us how long you have lived in the area. Tell your family, friends and neighbors about Archuleta Roots Day and come to The Den to celebrate.

About the aging population

Colorado has the seventh fastest-growing aging population in the U.S. In the year 2010, there will be more than 770,000 seniors age 60 and older in Colorado. From the years 2000-2010, the numbers of these seniors will increase 39 percent.

Centenarians are the fastest growing segment of the American population. Did you know that four out of every five Centenarians are women? Currently, there are about 600 Coloradans 100 years old or older. In 2010, there will be approximately 700 Coloradans 100 years or older. By the year 2050, the Census Bureau predicts there will be over 850,000 centenarians in the United States. The United Nations predicts that by the year 2050, over 2 million persons in the world will be 100 years or older.

Closed for the holidays

The Silver Foxes Den Senior Center will be closed Thursday, Nov. 23, and Friday, Nov. 24, for the Thanksgiving and Heritage Day holidays.

Save a life, give blood

The Silver Foxes Den Senior Center will host a blood drive 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28. Call The Den at 264-2167 to make an appointment to donate blood. Remember, only a little pin prick to you could save someone's life. Be brave, make time, and give something precious. Help save a life!

Free monthly movie

Our free monthly movie at The Den at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, is "The Family Man" rated PG-13. Cutthroat investment banker Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage), who eschews emotional ties, is transported into the prosaic life he might have had if he'd wed his college sweetheart. Instead of a Ferrari, Campbell drives a malfunctioning minivan and is saddled with two screaming kids Š but learns to love every minute of it. Join us in the lounge for popcorn and this heartwarming modern-day riff on "It's a Wonderful Life."

Pagosa SUN tour

Are you interested in how your local newspaper is written, printed and distributed? Are you curious about the undertakings of print media? Have you ever wondered what really happens behind the doors at The Pagosa Springs SUN? Well, for those with inquisitive minds, The Den will be taking a tour of The Pagosa Sun at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1. Please sign up with The Den for this informative tour to learn more about our local newspaper.

"Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical"

The Den will attend the enjoyable and hilarious play "Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical," presented by the Pagosa Music Boosters at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Pagosa Springs High School.

Mother Superior and her musical sisters are hitting the stage in this holiday spin-off of the musical "Nunsense." The singing sisters work feverishly in the convent basement, preparing a Christmas special to be televised on cable. Songs include "Twelve Days Prior to Christmas," "Santa Ain't Comin' to Our House" and "We Three Kings of Orient Are Us."

Sign up for tickets at The Den office by 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 1, if you would like to go to this holiday musical. We have 20 tickets reserved and they are $10 each. Join us for this family favorite and spend the afternoon laughing with friends, enjoying the talent and the music, and celebrating the holiday season.

Fund drive for The Den

The Silver Foxes Den Senior Center has been experiencing consistent growth over the last couple of years. Our meals and transportation services, our activities, and the ASI membership have increased tremendously. As of September 2006, we had served 7,661 meals, and delivered 1,593 meals to those in need. We have provided 3,977 rides just this year. And this does not take into account all of the activities that are now available at The Den like the enjoyable Mystery Trips.

As you can see, we are a great support to you and our community. Please help us to continue our excellent service while continually improving to meet the needs in our ever-growing community by donating tax deductible monies to the Silver Foxes Den. Any amount is greatly appreciated. We thank you for your contribution, your support and your patronage here at The Den.

Calling all bridge players

Bridge-4-Fun and duplicate bridge players are welcome at The Den Mondays and Fridays at 12:30 p.m. Come on down to The Den to meet great people, play some cards and have some fun.

Going through menopause

Concerned about the potential health risks of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), many women are turning to black cohosh for relief from menopausal symptoms.

Used in Europe for more than 40 years, this herb may help moderate hot flashes, mood swings and insomnia, and has proven to be effective in several studies. For relief of menopausal symptoms, especially hot flashes, begin taking 20 mg twice a day for six weeks, then try increasing the dose to 40 mg twice per day if hot flashes do not improve. Be aware that women with a history of breast cancer may want to pass on black cohosh, as studies have shown mixed results about its effects on breast tissue. Consult with your physician before taking this herb.

How learning changes the brain

It's remarkable to consider that we can change our brains just by learning.

Here's why: Our brains are continually active as we go about our daily lives. As we learn, our brains adapt to reflect the new information we feed them. Our life experiences literally shape our brains as we age. And, since no two people have the same kinds of experiences and learning, no two brains look exactly alike. Our brains' ability to adjust their structures to reflect life experiences (scientists call this "plasticity") is what enables us to learn - and to change our brains by learning.

In our brains, plasticity (a brain's ability to adjust its structures to reflect life experiences) is reflected in many different ways. Much of what we know about how our brains work as we learn comes from studies of laboratory animals engaged in experimental learning situations. These studies lead us to believe that our brains can respond fairly quickly and stably when we're learning through experience. Some of the changes that happen in the animals' "plastic brains" when learning occurs are:

- Nerve cells form more and larger synapses

- Capillaries (tiny blood vessels that connect veins and arteries) increase in certain areas of the brain, enhancing the flow of blood and oxygen to brain tissue (this may further benefit nerve cells and brain chemical systems)

- Glial cells - the brain's supportive cells - increase in size and number

- Myelin, the fatty sheath that wraps axons and enhances the transmission of nerve signals, may increase

- New neurons may be created (neurogenesis) in the hippocampus, which may enhance learning performance

- A genetic switch turns newly-learned information into long-term memories, triggering the formation of a new protein.

Because our brains adapt to reflect the new information we feed it, we have the opportunity to improve our ability to learn and think.

Activities at a glance

Thursday, Nov. 23 - Happy Thanksgiving. The Den is closed for the holiday.

Friday, Nov. 24 - The Den is closed for the holiday.

Monday, Nov. 27 - Susan Stoffer, nurse and counselor, available 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; Bridge-4-Fun, 12:30 p.m.; final day to make reservations for Archuleta Roots Day.

Tuesday, Nov. 28 - Yoga, 10:30 a.m.; blood drive, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; blood pressure checks, 11:30 a.m.; canasta, 1 p.m.; Medicare counseling, by appointment only, 1-3 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 29 - Dance for Health class, 10 a.m.; basic computer class, 10:00 a.m.; free monthly movie, "The Family Man," rated PG-13, 12:45 p.m.; final Aikido class of the year, 1 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 30 - Archuleta Roots Day (reservations needed): health screening at 10 a.m.; Medicare presentation, 11 a.m.; music with John Graves, 11:30 a.m.; lunch served at noon.

Friday, Dec. 1 - The Geezers meeting, 9 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; veterans services, noon; Bridge-4-Fun, 12:30 p.m.; duplicate bridge, 12:30 p.m.; tour of The Pagosa Springs SUN newspaper facility, 1 p.m.; final day to sign up to go to the "Nuncrackers" play.


Suggested donation $3 for ages 60-plus and kids 12 and under; all others $5.

Salad bar available every day at The Den beginning at 11:30 a.m. Menu subject to change.

Thursday, Nov. 23 - Happy Thanksgiving. The Den is closed for the holiday.

Friday, Nov. 24 - The Den is closed for the holiday.

Monday, Nov. 27 - Crunchy baked fish, whipped potatoes, spring blend veggies, pineapple and mandarin oranges, and bran muffin.

Tuesday, Nov. 28 - BBQ tidbits, corn on the cob, Brussels sprouts, citrus cup and whole wheat roll.

Wednesday, Nov. 29 - Enchilada pie with lettuce and tomato, sliced squash, mixed fruit with bananas, and corn chips with salsa.

Friday, Dec. 1 - Pasta primavera with vegetables, spaghetti noodles with meat sauce, apple and pear salad with almonds, and garlic roll.


Veteran's Corner

More on VAHC Means Test

By Andy Fautheree

As many readers know from following my column, I strongly urge veterans to get into VA health care.

Once in, it is important to stay in the VA health care system by making an appointment at least once a year, or more often as needed.

The third step is to complete the financial VAHC Means Test required each year on your enrollment anniversary date. The information should be based on your previous calendar-year, adjusted gross family income and all out-of-pocket medical expenses.

I have often expressed my opinions about the need for the Means Tests in this column but, for now, it is required by the VA health care system in order for most veterans to continue receiving the benefit. Some of our veterans receive a notice each year with forms included to complete this requirement. Others are not notified.

Some vets notified, some not

I'm not sure why some vets are notified and some are not. It may hinge on the fact that if you were enrolled prior to Jan. 17, 2003, and checked off the "no I do not wish to disclose my financial information" box, it is possible you will not receive the notice. However, if you enrolled after that date, financial information was required for enrollment, unless you have special considerations.

A veteran enrolled prior to Jan. 17, 2003, can opt out of providing financial information and check the "no I do not wish to disclose my financial information" box at any time, even if he has provided financial information previously.

The problem is that most veterans in VAHC Priority 2-8 must provide an annual Means Test, with some exceptions. Those exceptions could be service-connected disability of less than 50 percent, Purple Heart, POW and some other special consideration. In those cases, the disability is covered, but other needs may require a co pay. It is complicated, but rest assured the VAHC system will sort it all out for you.

If you are required to provide a Means Test and you decide to "opt out" of providing your financial information, you may be required to pay all co-pays for all VAHC services. Additionally, you may not be eligible for travel allowance.

Fulfill the requirement

The safest bets are fulfilling the VA health care system request and providing your financial information.

VA health care services could be denied for failure to do so each year. It is not necessary for those of you who I assisted in enrolling in VAHC to fill out the forms yourself. I have a computerized copy of your VAHC information and original application form, and I can do this for you. Just stop by my office once a year for a few minutes and it is a done deal!

Determines co-pay

Once enrolled in VAHC, the Means Test form determines the co-pay requirements and provides updated personal information such as a change of address, dependents, etc.

Income figures

Here are the income limitations for those of you who do not have service-connected disabilities, a Purple Heart or other special veteran qualifications, and who wish to enroll in VA health care under the current enrollment guidelines. This is specific to Archuleta County, based the Federal HUD formula (2005 figures).

- Single veteran - $28,950.

- Veteran with one dependent - 33,100.

- Veteran with two dependents - $37,200.

- Veteran with three dependents -$41,350.

And so on.

Medical deduction

The out-of-pocket medical deduction is rather complicated. Contrary to my earlier thinking, it is not 100-percent deducted from income figures to arrive at an enrollment qualifying income level.

The VA informs me, for the income year being assessed, the medical deduction withheld is 5 percent of the previous year's basic pension rate. As an example: The VA Pension rate in 2003 is $9,556. Deductible withheld is $9,556; 5 percent is $478. If the veteran's non-reimbursed medical expenses for income year 2002 are $1,200, the medical expense deduction entered on the 1010EZR (Means Test Form) is $1,200 minus $478, or $722. In other words, even though your out-of-pocket medical expenses are $1,200, only $722 will be deducted from your income to determine your enrollment eligibility.

Once in, stay in

Remember, though, for those of you already enrolled in VAHC, the information on your Means Tests is only used to determine if you will be required to pay co-pays. You will not be denied VAHC services for the income information you provide because you are "grand fathered" into the system.


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 veteran's benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at 46 Eaton Drive, Suite 7 (behind City Market). The office number is 731-3837, the fax number is 731-3879, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is The office is open from 8 to 4, Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.


Library News

Thanksgiving holiday weekend special time for Americans

By Carole Howard

PREVIEW Columnist, and the library staff

For many Americans, Thanksgiving weekend has become the most significant family reunion time of the year - a wonderful opportunity to gather with family and friends and to give thanks for all our blessings. The library will be closed from Thursday through Sunday so our staff can share this special time with their loved ones and the well-used library carpets can be cleaned. To help set the scene for your celebrations, we offer the following thoughts:

- George Washington in his first Presidential Proclamation: "It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor."

- Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War: "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown."

- Albert Schweitzer: "To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value what is done for you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action that is the expression of gratitude."

- Seneca Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy: "Our Creator shall continue to dwell above the sky, and that is where those on earth will end their thanksgiving."

Free Spanish language publications

Please pass the word to Spanish-speaking family, friends and neighbors that the following publications are available in the library's lobby: 1. Su Dinero y Futuro Economico: Una Guia Para Ahorrar; 2. La Menopausia y Las Hormonas; 3. Tecnicas Financieras para Toda la Vida: El Futuro en tus Manos; 4. Como Comprar una Casa: Con un Pago Inicial Bajo; 5. Infle. Rote. Inspeccione. Como Cuidar y Mantner Sus Neumaticos; and 6. Fraudes por Afinidad: Como Impedir Fraudes Dirigidos a Grupos de Individuos Afines.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid worksheets

"Free Application for Federal Student Aid" (FAFSA) worksheets are available in the library's lobby. You must complete and submit a FAFSA to apply for federal student aid and to apply for most state and college aid. Another faster, easier option is to apply on line at For state or college aid, the deadline may be as early as January 2007. Students should check with your high school counselor or your college's financial administrator about other deadlines.

Non-fiction: A Christian heroine, the Iraq War and Indian history

"Rachel's Tears," a book by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott about Columbine martyr Rachael Scott, features excerpts from her private journals detailing her life and faith. "State of Denial," by famed Watergate journalist Bob Woodward, is an inside view of how the U.S. got into the current Iraq War and a book that is making headlines across the world.

"The Jicarilla Apache Tribe: A History" by Veronica E. Velarde Tiller, herself a Jicarilla Apache, is an updated edition of the history of these New Mexico Indians that highlights their cultural adaptation and change.

Books for young adults

"Joyride," by Amy Ehrlich, is the complex story of an unusual mother-daughter relationship that explodes in a final heartbreaking climax. "Infernal Devices," by Philip Reeve, is part of a science fiction series called "The Hungry City Chronicles.'' "A Northern Light," by Jennifer Donnelly, is a coming-of-age novel that weaves romance, history and a murder mystery into something very special for young adult readers.

New fiction: Best-selling thrillers and a mystery

CIA operative Mitch Rapp follows a trail of contract killers leading directly to our nation's capital in "Act of Treason," the eighth thriller by Vince Flynn. Also set in Washington, D.C. is "The Collectors" by David Baldacci, a novel about what happens in an investigation of who is selling America to its enemies one classified secret at a time. "The Thirteenth Tale," by Diane Setterfield, tells of a prolific author who suddenly decides she wants to tell the real story of her life that until now has been hidden in various false histories.

Local author

Helena Gunther has donated a copy of her latest book "Apple Cider Vinegar" to the library. Writing under her pen name Victoria Rose, she takes a look at the folklore and history of vinegars, discusses medical research and other uses of cider vinegar, and tells you how to produce your own at home.

Honoring Kate Terry and other contributions

Additional contributions have been made to the library in memory of Kate Terry from Reba Beall, Betty Hicks, Kevin and Kristin Hicks and Phyllis Wheaton. We also appreciate separate donations by Robert and Jeanette Pike and Mare Perouty.

Special DVD and other donor thanks

A DVD of "The Happiest Baby on the Block," by Dr. Harvey Karp, revealing the amazing secret used for centuries by the world's top parents, has been donated to the library by Janet "Nanny" Warden, who recently reviewed it for the Pagosa B.R.A.T. For donations of other books and materials, our thanks this week go to Betsy Burnett, Donna Geiger, Richard Hamilton, John Harbor, Rain Lamoreaux, Peggy Lane, Vivian Rader, Werner and Patty Sallani, Wendy Saunders, Tony Simmons, I. Tinklenberg and Dick Warring. We greatly appreciate your generosity.


Arts Line

Gallery Gift Shop open for Parade of Stores

By Linda Strathdee

PREVIEW Columnist

Good news: the Gallery Gift Shop, with many wonderful gifts crafted by local artists and artisans ,will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays through Dec. 2 at our Pagosa Springs Arts Council Gallery at Town Park.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As part of the Parade of Stores on Dec. 2, the gift shop will offer a warm beverage, cookies and a chance to win a door prize. We hope you will visit often and support our local talent.

2007 Calendars

There are still some 2007 Arts Council Calendars available.

The calendar features works from local artists: Claire Goldrick, Betty Slade, Jan Brookshier, Art Franz, Diana Baird, Al Olson, Jeff Laydon, David Hunter, Barbara Rosner, Jeanine Malaney and Emily Tholberg.

Artwork exhibited includes photography, oil paintings, fabric art, watercolor and mixed media. Calendars are available at the gallery at Town Park for $9.95 plus tax for non-members and $8.95 plus tax for PSAC members. These calendars make wonderful Christmas gifts; you can pick one (or many) up when you visit the gallery gift shop.

PSAC exhibits program

Applications are available to artists wanting to participate in the Pagosa Springs Arts Council's 2007 Exhibits Program.

We offer different exhibits for public viewing at the PSAC gallery in Town Park April through October. Past exhibits have varied - from the annual high school art students' show, to shows featuring jewelry, bronze, woodworking, photography, watercolor, oil painting, fabric art, juried art, and the like.

Our exhibits committee will review portfolios in early January, select artists and schedule them for exhibits in the Town Park Gallery during the 2007 season.

If you are interested, or have further questions, contact PSAC at 264-5020 or download the exhibit forms from our Web site at

Photography club

The Pagosa Springs Photography Club meets the second Wednesday of each month during the club year, from September through May.

Interested photography enthusiasts are welcome to attend at no charge for the first meeting. Any and all are invited to join for $20 annual dues.

For more information, contact club president Larry Walton at 731-2706 or

Art classes

Pagosa Springs Arts Council has started developing its 2007 workshop and class schedule, with the first classes to be offered in January.

Brighten up your winter by signing up for one of the earliest classes.

- Jan. 15-17: Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett will teach Beginners I, the Basics of Watercolor. This workshop is for individuals who have always wanted to try their hand at watercolor - or who are not ready to take other workshops. It offers a chance to learn to paint with others who are uncertain of their talent, or who have struggled to learn on their own, with limited success. At the Pagosa Springs Community Center, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., or so, each day: $175 for three full days, $150 for PSAC members. Bring your lunch.

- Jan. 22-24: Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett will teach Beginners II, Building Blocks of Watercolor. This workshop builds on Beginners I and uses everything students learned in those classes. In Beginners II, you will continue to work together to make it easy for you to create independently. You use all the materials from before, and just a few more things. Remember, watercolor is magic and fun!

Mornings there will be lessons and exercises about shapes, composition and design, choosing subjects, further study about value and color, and advanced techniques such as lifting, scraping, masking, glazing, working with sponges, salt, saran wrap, and waxed paper. Afternoons will be spent painting, using the morning's lessons. Sessions are held at the Pagosa Springs Community Center, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., or so, each day: $175 for three full days, $150 for PSAC members. Bring your lunch

- Jan. 29-31: Pierre Mion will teach his winter watercolor workshop. An internationally-known artist and illustrator who worked with Norman Rockwell for 12 years, Pierre will offer his winter watercolor workshop beginning Monday, Jan. 29.

For more information about any of these workshops, call the Pagosa Springs Arts Council, 264-5020.


The Pagosa Springs Music Boosters' production of "Nuncrackers" will play at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30-Dec. 2, with a 2 p.m. matinee Dec. 2.

Tickets will be available at the Plaid Pony (970-731-5262) or at the door. Tickets for "Nuncrackers" are: adults, $15; seniors, $12; and students/children 18 and under, $6.

Teach a workshop

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council sponsors and manages workshops 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. Workshops provide those who want to teach a venue to do so and, at the same time, give our residents a place to learn something new whether it is watercolor, acrylic, oil, drawing, photography or the like. The space also provides a home for the photo club, watercolor club and a meeting location for various other groups.

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

To date, all our workshops have been held during the day. Would evenings work better for you? Would you prefer a series of classes? If you would like to see the Arts Council offer workshops in either of these formats, call PSAC at 264-5020 and leave your name and number and we'll touch base with you.

New members

Started in 1988, The Pagosa Springs Arts Council, a non-profit organization, was conceived and developed to, in part, promote the awareness of the vast array of local artistic talent, provide educational and cultural activities in the community, sponsor exhibits and workshops by local and regional artists, and encourage and support continued appreciation and preservation of the aesthetic beauty of Pagosa Springs.

If becoming involved with such a dynamic organization excites you, we hope you will consider becoming a member, or perhaps volunteer. If you have question or would like more information on joining, call the PSAC office, 264-5020.

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 Town Park Gallery, unless otherwise noted. For more information contact PSAC at 264-5020

Through Dec. 2 - PSAC Members Gift Shop.

Nov. 30 - Dec. 2, Music Boosters production of "Nuncrackers," high school auditorium.

Jan. 15-17 - Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett workshop, Beginners I - The Basics of Watercolor.

Jan. 18 - PSAC open house, community center, 4-7 p.m.

Jan. 22-24 - Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett workshop, Beginners II - Building Blocks of Watercolor.

Jan. 29-31 - Pierre Mion watercolor workshop.

Feb. 12-14 - Soledad Estrada-Leo's, Big Little Angelos Workshop.

Feb. 19-21 - Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett workshop, Intermediate - Using Photos, People and More.

Artsline is a communication vehicle of the Pagosa Springs Arts Council, courtesy of The Pagosa Springs Sun. For inclusion in Artsline, send information to PSAC e-mail ( In the subject area of your e-mail, please write "Artsline." Your attachment should be in a Microsoft Word file document format. Images should be limited to 2 (300dpi, 5x7 inches in size) and sent as a separate (individual attachments) e-mail. You can also mail a CD of images and information to PSAC, P.O. Box 533, Pagosa Springs, Colorado 81147. Deadline is at least two weeks prior to event. 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

Thanksgiving dinner? No thanks

By Karl Isberg

"So, tell me, honestly: Do you have any idea what your life would be like without me?"

I am about to shovel a wedge of pizza into my mouth. I've bought and cooked a frozen pizza, dolling it up considerably with seeded and crushed fresh tomato, herbs, crushed garlic, kalamata olives, thin-sliced hard Italian salami, extra cheese. It is acceptable. And I am hungry.

"Well Š I Š uhh Š"

"No, I mean, really, do you have any idea? Do you realize what your life would be like without me on constant patrol, keeping things in order, making sure things get done? Huh? Do you?"

"Well ... I Š uhhŠ" I recognize rhetorical questions when I hear them.

I've made a simple salad: torn romaine, sliced "tomato" (hey, I bought them at the supermarket Š they're red!), some piquant red peppers, oil-cured olives. I've whipped up a lemon/oregano vinaigrette with a wad of stone ground mustard whisked in. I want to eat the salad. But, no.

"I wonder if people know how difficult it is to deal with someone as totally disorganized as you. I wonder if the folks who admire the so-called 'creative' people, know what goofballs most of them are. I mean, this place would be in an utter shambles in a matter of a day or two if you had free rein and I wasn't here to keep things in check."

"Well ... I Š uhhh Š" The pizza is getting cold, the cheese starting to set up like the finish on a new car. The greens in the salad are beginning to wilt. But, I know better than to divert my attention from the discussion at hand.

"It never occurs to you to tidy up, to sweep the floor, to clean a countertop, to put things back where they belong, to close a cabinet. You haven't washed a dish or pan in years; you do the fun part, the cooking, and leave the cleanup to me. If you had your way, the bathroom would be a forest of mold. Isn't that right? Plus, do you realize you'd be in debtor's prison if not for me? Do you?"

"Well Š I Š uhhh Š"

"As it is, despite all my labor, there are times I walk in the front door and the place smells like a hippie crash pad, or, worse yet, a transient hotel inhabited by winos. Just once Š just once, I'd like some recognition. What could it hurt? I'm thinking about writing a letter to the editor and sending it to the newspaper just to set the record straight."

Suddenly, I realize what's up.

Sure, she's right: I'm a degenerate slob. I thrive on - yes, demand - chaos. Love it. I have little awareness of clutter since, with my ferocious case of ADD, I tend to focus on one little thing at a time, for a few moments at each stop, before going on to another little thing. And, yes, she is a shepherd of sorts, an organizer, a controller.

But, that's not what this is all about. If it were, she'd be hurling dishes at me and, incidentally, her aim is incredibly good when catharsis is at hand.

Nope, Kathy wants something else; this is a mere feint. The real punch is coming. A quick glance at the calendar tells me what that is.

It's about Thanksgiving dinner. Her favorite - my least favorite - holiday meal.

This is Kathy's way of greasing the skids, of oiling a track that leads, inexorably, to the topic of the Thanksgiving menu. She is firing the proverbial shot across the bow. Across the bow of a scow, granted, but a shot nonetheless.

To put it simply: She is a traditionalist. She considers roast turkey and all the typical fixins to be the greatest meal yet created.

Me Š I hate it. It's dull, nearly tasteless, a tryptophan-saturated nightmare. For the adventurous cook, a huge amount of work for next to no return.

She is on a roll, and she darts to the point.

"And, because I do this work for you, without thanks I might add, again, I have decided to go ahead and order a turkey for Thanksgiving. If I didn't do it, I know you would never get it done. At least someone in this house thinks ahead."

"Well, that's not because I'm a worthless crudball, honey - and I'll be the first to admit my failings. It's because I hate Thanksgiving dinner."

She does not hear me.

"So, I ordered an organic, free-range turkey."


"An organic, free-range turkey. Fifteen pounds. I pick it up tomorrow."

"Huh?" All I want is some pizza and salad. Suddenly, I am propelled to a strange universe, one not of my choosing. She is relentless. We have moved in rapid fashion from a stinky hippie crash pad to an organic, free-range turkey. Where is this thing heading?

I don't need to wait long to find out.

"You know, I've been thinking about Thanksgiving."

"Oh, really?"

"Yep. I loved Thanksgiving when I was a kid. Absolutely loved it."

"Oh, really?"

"And, since your brother is coming down from Denver, and Jon and Ivy are coming over, I want to make this Thanksgiving something special."

The words "Thanksgiving" and "special" are not linked, as far as I know, but I feign interest.

"So, I've come up with some things for you to cook."

Every warning bell in my chaotic, cluttered brain sounds at top volume.

"I have it all planned. You need someone to make plans; if it were up to you, you'd wait until Thanksgiving Day to think about the meal and to shop."


"So, here's the plan: you're going to make turkey, of course."

"Organic, free-range turkey."

"Yep. It's going to be much better than regular turkey, It was a happier, more fulfilled bird and, therefore, more delicious than the kind of bird that drowns if it looks up during a rain storm or, because its genes have been perverted, can't walk without falling over."

"Fulfilled, but dead, of course."

"And you'll make mashed potatoes."

"Okey dokey."

"And stuffing and gravy."


"And no monkey business. No adobo sauce and chipotles; no strange fungi. And, you know, I was sitting in the living room this morning, sipping herbal tea and I was overwhelmed by memories. Good memories, Karl. Childhood memories. Back before I met you."

Here it comes. There's no stopping it. I brace myself.

"I remembered two things from Thanksgiving in my childhood that I want to experience again."

"More than a fulfilled and happy free-range turkey?"

"Yep. I want my Aunt Evelyn's orange jello and carrot salad."

Dear lord, help me.

"And I want green bean casserole."

I can't take it anymore: I snap. I turn into a sputtering idiot.

No, wait, I was already a sputtering idiot.

I start to drool and careen wildly around the room.

"Never," I yell.

"No. No jello salad with carrots. No green bean casserole. Green bean casserole kills people like me. It's toxic - with those limp beans, that hideous sodium-saturated cream of mushroom soup, that grotesque onion-like product that comes in a can. Never. Don't force the issue; I'm a desperate man. There's no telling what I might do."

"OK, I'll drop the jello salad and green bean casserole, if you promise to make the traditional dinner - with no modifications. I'll whip up something for dessert."

I am sweating, trembling, I capitulate. She is calm, smiling.

Aaargh Š the old bait and switch. Fooled again.

Sure enough, the next day I open the freezer and there it is - an "organic, free-range turkey."

I take it out and place it, unwrapped, on a baking sheet on the bottom shelf of the fridge where it will defrost for three days. It seems happy. Fulfilled.

I'll brine it in an old cooler, and put the cooler in the garage overnight, the night before the big "dinner."

I'll whip up a simple brine with kosher salt and brown sugar. Into the brine and into the garage goes the "organic, free-range" bird.

This brute will be easy to roast. I'll rinse and dry it thoroughly then stuff a mess of aromatics in the body cavity. A bit of salt, some pepper, inside and out, and into a 425 degree oven it'll go for 45 minutes. The oven temp is reduced to 350 and the bird is roasted another couple hours, until the meat in the thick part of the thigh measures about 168. Out it'll come and it will rest at least a half hour. Fulfilled as all get-out.

While the bird roasts that first 45 minutes at high temp, I'll get to work on the stuffing and the vegetable (I'm going to make sauteed brussels sprouts, with pancetta and shallot). I'll browbeat Ivy until she agrees to make the mashed potatoes. I'll have done my prep work earlier in the day, and I'll be ready to go.

By the time I shop for the ingredients for the stuffing, I will, conveniently, have forgotten everything Kathy has told me about the "traditional" model. I will also forget the elaborate list she has prepared for me.

I'm gonna do this stuffing thing up right, i.e. a super eggy, almost pudding-like stuffing with rustic bread, hot Italian sausage, onion, garlic, mushrooms, herbs. Heck, I might even toss in some diced, roasted green chiles. Should be a humdinger. Who'll know it's not the Pilgrim version? By the time dinner is served we should be about five bottles of wine into the evening.

As for the potatoes, I know for a fact that once Ivy rices the spuds and folds in a ton of butter and heavy cream, she won't be able to restrain herself. Gotta add a bunch of white cheddar, don't you think? The only question will be: shredded or small chunks?

The brussels sprouts are easy. The trimmed sprouts are halved and blanched, then drained. I put a mix of half butter, half extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat and toss in a mess of diced pancetta. When the meat is crisped up, out it comes and it's put on a paper towel, Into the pan go the sprouts where they saute until they start to caramelize. In goes a torrent of minced shallot and it cooks along with the sprouts. When the shallot is done, the pancetta goes back in the pan along with a teeny bit of chicken broth, a bit of chicken demi-glace, some freshly-squeezed lemon juice and the mix is seasoned. When the liquid reduces, a wad o'butter tops it of as the pan is removed from the heat.

The gravy is simple, including a broth made with the giblets and other remnants of internal organs, some chicken stock, a dark roux. I might even hump up with a bechamel and do a pot of creamed pearl onions.

It's not that I'm going to enjoy it. Not even with the modifications to the stuffing and spuds.

Not even with the wine.

One nice thing, however: the dinner puts out wonderful aromas as it cooks.

With luck, the guests won't smell the hippies.


Extension Viewpoints

Red Books are available, 4-H plans a party

By Bill Nobles

SUN Columnist

Nov. 23 - Office closed.

Nov. 24 - Office closed.

Red Books are here

The 2007 Integrated Resource Management Red Books are now available at the Extension Office for $5.

These books contain gestation tables, death loss code, salving ease score, pasture usage, breeding and herd management information, tables and places to record information along with a yearly calendar and place for address or phone numbers.

4-H Christmas party

Archuleta County 4-H will hold its Cowboy Country Christmas party 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1.

4-Hers planning to attend are encouraged to bring a side dish to go with the barbecue. There will be some games, a DJ with loads of country music, even a cake walk.

Make sure to wear your cowboy boots and learn some great country line dances.

We will be wrapping boxes for Operation Helping Hand and taking enrollment for you latecomers.

Come out and enjoy the fun of 4-H.

Applications due

People interested in the upcoming Master Gardener Program in Pagosa Springs need to have their applications turned into the Archuleta County Extension Office by Dec. 1 with payment of the program fee.

Classes will begin Tuesdays starting Jan. 30. Sessions will be held 9 a.m to 4 p.m.

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


Pagosa Lakes News

Adoption of Chinese babies saves lives

By Ming Steen

SUN Columnist

The couples I know (and others that I don't know) have my eternal thanks for adopting female babies from China. China's one-child policy has had many odious dimensions, but the most gruesome aspect of this type of "family planning" has been the annual murder of tens of millions of infant girls.

Chinese officials have in the past boasted their policies have prevented 300 million births since the one-child policy was implemented in the late 1970's, but now even the government is starting to admit that the vast majority of these 300 million were girls. So bad have things become that the Chinese government has finally started to worry, and in August of this year announced a raft of new programs to reverse the trend.

The National Population and Family Planning Commission has launched a pilot project called "Care for Girls" which will experiment with incentives in some parts of the country. These will include cash payments for couples who have a daughter and let her live, as well as privileges in housing, employment and job training. The payments will be doled out to families at different stages of the girl's life, in an effort to prevent families from gaming the system. Some families with girls will also be exempted from paying school fees.

According to some reports, the government will also start cracking down on hospitals and doctors who perform ultra-sounds and other tests that allow couples to know the gender of the child in the womb. It will also get serious about stopping the drowning of infant girls and the practice of abandoning them in the wild.

When I see a Chinese female baby with her adopted family, I choke with happiness knowing that another child has been spared and will receive the opportunity to grow into a beautiful woman to be loved and love in return.

As the youngest of ten children in a conservative Chinese family growing up in Malaysia, my birth, like those of my female siblings, was greeted with sorrow by my father and deep resentment by my paternal grandmother. Each female child was encouraged to be euthanized or be given out for adoption - but who would want a female baby in a culture with a predilection for boys. Knowing how her mother-in-law felt, my mother guarded each of her girls with vigilance.

At this time of Thanksgiving, though thankful for my mother every day, I wish to give her special thanks and recognition.

You have yourself a blessed time with the family you love as you share this season of thanksgiving together.



Peter Mergens

Peter Jerome Mergens, a longtime resident of Pagosa Springs, passed away at his home on the weekend of Nov. 11, 2006, of an apparent heart attack.

Peter, the son of Edwin P. Mergens and the former Mynne Kinnow, was born on Dec. 1, 1929, in Fairmount, North Dakota. At the age of six years, he and his mother moved to Los Angeles, California, where he completed his education in high school after which he entered the U.S. Army and was a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps stationed at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. It was while there that he found the jazz musicians playing in the clubs in Manhattan, N.Y., and he become a lifelong avid follower of many famous performers and jazz in general. (He loved to try to trip up John Graves on musical trivia.)

After his service, he completed his education at UCLA with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering. Peter spent his working career at Avon Corporation's Los Angeles manufacturing plant as facilities and services manager. During his years in Los Angeles, he was an active driver of racing cars at Riverside race track, racing and doing tune-ups at the track and also participating in national and international amateur radio clubs. Upon retirement, he and his wife, Lulu, moved to Pagosa Springs where they had vacationed for many previous years. While here, Pete started a small business manufacturing small parts and apparatus used in amateur radio equipment. His call sign in the Pagosa Amateur Radio Club was KVOD. For many years, he also provided a local contact for La Plata Electric, Durango offices during power outages affecting Pagosa.

After the death of his wife, Lulu, caused by Lupus disease, Peter remained active in community affairs where he performed technical engineering support to the KWUF radio station activities, including the station's remote broadcasting setups.

For many years, Peter was a regular attendee at the Chamber of Commerce SunDowners, and most years, was a judge for the county fair's chili cookoff contest. He will be sorely missed by the many persons in the community who knew him. For those who knew him well, we know he is now happy to be with his beloved Lulu, whose loss he never fully got over.

A Mass in memoriam to Peter Mergens will be offered by Rev. Carlos Alvarez at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church.

A memorial service for Peter will be scheduled later in the year. He is survived by the members of the Edward Mergens family: wife Betty, children Michael, Stephen, Stacy and grandchildren Iris, Peter J., Stephanie, Christine and Matthew.


 Business News

Chamber News

Plenty of holiday fun in Pagosa Country

By Mary Jo Coulehan

SUN Columnist

I love this issue of the paper, because I can scream out my thank yous to the community.

Of course, it also makes me realize that I don't give thanks often enough! I have just celebrated my second anniversary in this job and the community has been overwhelmingly supportive. The businesses are game for new ideas and have responded well to the Business Builder Series, the cooperative advertising efforts and e-mails that we send out.

Our community is so very lucky to have our savvy, hard-working, generous Chamber board of directors. The members give so much time and energy for the betterment of the area.

The diplomats who volunteer here at the Visitor Center are first-rate, and invaluable. And last, but not least, is the wonderful staff here at the office: Kimberley, Sandy, Elizabeth and Emily are great to work with. They are tireless, innovative, fun, and friendly and they challenge me and try to keep me in line (no small task). Without them, we would not have made the progress we have during the past year. We will continue to move forward with the technology aspects of our business and work with merchants to provide the best service possible.

Thank you for growing with us and for your support.

Business health plans

The last seminar in the Business Builder Series will be held Tuesday, Nov. 28, and the topic will be business health plans.

Three speakers - Margaret Simon, Erin Kirk and Mike Dalsaso - will talk about different health plans and options available to employers and their employees, from 9 a.m. to noon at the community center.

Margaret is the owner of Employee Benefits of the SW and will be speaking about Health Reimbursement Arrangements and Flexible Spending Accounts offering tax breaks for businesses and savings accounts for employees.

Erin will speak about the AFLAC programs and Section 125 Tax Accounts.

With his vast health insurance brokering knowledge, Mike will speak about HMOs versus PPOs, traditional major medical versus High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) and many other health menu options.

With health care being one of the most important issues facing employers and employees today, what better time to get so much information in one place at one time?

Come to the seminar, take home information and digest it, then make some decisions for yourself and your business.

Cost to attend this session is $20 for Chamber members and $25 for nonmembers and continental breakfast and snacks during breaks are included in the price. Seating is limited, so contact the Chamber at 264-2360 to reserve your slot. We look forward to hosting another informative and useful seminar for our business.

Christmas in Pagosa

Check out The SUN for the full-page ad listing all the businesses participating in the Parade of Stores. East side, west side and downtown stores are joining together to produce one big, shopping day, allowing all of us to Shop Pagosa First.

Participating stores will display a poster highlighting the event. If you visit a certain number of stores in each section of town and get a special card stamped at each, you become eligible to enter into a drawing for over 50 gifts or gift certificates from participating stores.

Get ready to do your shopping early: there will be stores promoting their wares for men, women and children. We have hardware, furniture, photography, framing and art galleries, home products, Pagosa products, outdoor goods and clothing, spas, snowmobiles, phone packages and goods, electronics, clothing, jewelry, music and sewing gifts and even have involved bakeries (so you can order your holiday goodies). It is an awesome way to rediscover the shopping experience in Pagosa.

The shopping frenzy gets underway on the west side of town, with cards stamped starting at 10 a.m. This continues until 2 p.m., when we switch to the downtown area and the east end of town, where stores will stamp cards from 2 to 6. Each participating store will have blank cards you can pick up when you start your shopping excursion; once you finish shopping, don't forget to leave your card at participating stores, to be collected and entered into the drawing.

While all this shopping is going on, the Visitor Center will be alive with children waiting to give their wish lists to Santa and Mrs. Claus. Starting at 3 p.m., Santa will take requests and Pagosa Photography will be on hand to catch a magical moment you may want to include in this year's Christmas card. Enjoy the festivities, cookies and drinks and get ready for the community lighting spectacular, starting around 5:30 p.m.

"The Lighting Wave," as it is now being called, will start with the newly-refurbished star and cross being lit. Then, beginning at 6th Street, a fire protection district fire truck will travel slowly down San Juan and Pagosa streets, alerting the darkened businesses to light up their stores in sequence, all the way down to the River Center.

Some store lights will be on timers so their lights will not correspond with our general intent, but you get the idea! This first attempt at a community lighting is an expansion of the traditional lighting of the Visitor Center on this first Saturday in December. Because of this community lighting wave, we will not have the Parade of Lights, which we used to hold on the second Friday in December.

So, get out Pagosans, shop 'til you drop and enjoy all our community activities.

Remember that "Nuncrackers" will be performed twice on Dec. 2, with a matinee at 2 p.m. and another performance at 7:30 p.m., in addition to the Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 shows at 7:30 p.m. Ducks Unlimited will be having its banquet starting at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at The Pagosa Lodge, and Pagosa Baking Company will have various decorating and entertaining seminars all day. Saturday, Dec. 2 is Christmas in Pagosa Day. Enjoy all that is "in store" for you!

Festival of Trees

Beginning Monday, Dec. 4, decorators and non-profit agencies will convene at the community center to start working on their Christmas trees for the Festival of Trees celebration to be held Friday, Dec. 8.

This new event will benefit numerous non-profit agencies in the community, while giving exposure to individual and group decorating talent.

Here are the guidelines: Live or fake trees that are 6- to 8-feet tall will be decorated Dec. 4 and 5. The trees can be sponsored and decorated by individuals or organizations. The trees will be on display at the community center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Dec. 6, 7 and 8. The trees can be purchased in an auction Friday, Dec. 8, starting at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the Festival of Trees are $15 and can be purchased at the community center. The sponsors of the trees can donate the profits from the purchase of the trees to the non-profit activity or organization of their choice.

Entertainment, scrumptious hors d'oeuvres and beverages are all part of the auction. Get an elegant or whimsical tree to enhance your home or office. For more information or to register to enter the Festival of Trees, call the community center at 264-4152.

Newsletter reminder

You have until Monday, Nov. 27, to get us your inserts for the December/January Chamber newsletter.

This important year-end newsletter will include the revised Volunteer of the Year and Citizen of the Year nomination forms, the Chamber board of director candidate bios, the Chamber/Visitor Center year-end report, and much more information. All the newsletters are important, but at this time of the year, it seems to be even more so. The newsletter will be sent out at the beginning of December, so this is a great opportunity to highlight a special event to other Chamber members. We will need 700 copies of your insert and the cost is $50 to include your flyer. For more information, contact us at the Chamber at 264-2360.

Memberships galore

We welcome two new members this week.

This native team of real estate ladies opened up Premier Properties Pagosa Springs. Layne and Peggy Poma will introduce you to this jewel we know as Pagosa and the lifestyles of southwestern Colorado. They specialize in ranch land, estate, residential and commercial property. Give these homegrown ladies a call at 264-1402 or stop by their offices at 125 S. 2nd St.

Rainbow Valley Ranch is a new lodging establishment located on five beautiful acres with mountain views. This property has a two-bedroom cabin and a three-bedroom house available for nightly rental. For all you backcountry explorers, there is free horse boarding. The holidays are filling up very fast and cabins are getting difficult to find. Give Ed and Donna Zevely a call at 264-1152 to make your reservations.

Just in time for the holidays, we welcome back the following members: Paws, Feathers, Fins & Friends Pet Sitting Service; Photographic Art by Art Franz; The First Inn; The Chimney Rock restaurant; Century 21/Wolf Creek Land & Cattle with Gloria Haines; The Hill Agency/Allstate; Linda Love and The Hideout; and the Wolf Creek Trailblazers Snowmobile Club. This active group not only has fun but gives so much back to this community by grooming cross country trails and opening up the back country for other enthusiasts. This group is part of the Colorado Snowmobile Association and is raffling off an Artic Cat M6 snowmobile. Raffle tickets are available at the Chamber for $5 per ticket. The drawing will be held Dec. 23, and you need not be present to win. All you snowmobile hounds can call 264-4471 for more information about this group.

I hope everyone paces themselves on Turkey Day. Watch, as the community transforms for the Dec. 2 festivities. We give thanks for good food, good fun and good friends - all in a wonderful part of the world. Happy Thanksgiving!



Cards of Thanks

Pine Ridge

Pine Ridge would like to thank the following people: City Maket and the floral manager, Ginger Redden, for the fresh flowers. Thank you to McDonald's for the ice cream cones, the Junior Rotary Club for the visits, the first- and second- graders from Our Savior Lutheran School for the Thanksgiving goodies. Also, thank you to the Community Choir sing- along group for the beautiful music and the Centerpoint Baptist Church for the Thanksgiving dinner and entertainlment.

Mary Ann Martinez



Willis and Vita

Albert and Dolores Vita of Manasquan, N.J., and Lester and Lila Rivas of Pagosa Springs are pleased to announce the engagement of their children, Eddie Vita and Isabel Willis. The couple plans to "tie the knot" in the late summer of 2007.


Sports Page

Pirates aim for return to Great Eight

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

Pirate girls' basketball is now in its second week of practice and players and coaches are looking toward the start of the season in December.

They will try to improve on a strong season last year, when the team upset the eventual state champs, Centauri, for the district crown and made it into the Great Eight at state, with a record of 19-7.

The Pirates lost four seniors from their starting lineup but will return with their all-conference point guard, senior Jessica Lynch, and three other promising seniors - Kristen DuCharme, Lindsey Mackey and Samantha Harris (who will likely not play until league competition opens, because of a healing ACL). The roster will be filled out with juniors Camille Rand and Tamara Gayhart.

Coach Bob Lynch described his new starters as players who will be able to take the torch from last year's players, and maybe climb a few steps higher this season.

League play will begin Jan. 19 against state champion Centauri. Centauri lost four starters from last season and should not be the threat that they were, though they should still be good competition.

The Pirates will also play Monte Vista, Bayfield and Ignacio in regular season play that lasts until mid-February. From there, the Pirates will compete in the district tournament, Feb. 23-24, and could go on to the state playoffs, which take place in early March.

But before the regular season tips off after the holiday break, non-league play will start with a road-stint Dec. 1 with a game against Buena Vista, followed the next day by play against Salida.

The following week, Dec. 8-9, the Pirates will be at home for the Wolf Creek Classic and tournament play at the PSHS gym.


Pirate wrestlers hit the mats to prepare for new season

By Karl Isberg

Staff Writer

The 2007 Pirate wrestling season begins a week later than was the case in recent years, and the extra time will give a team lean in veteran athletes time to sort out the newcomers by skill and by weight.

In the past, the Pirates began their season the first weekend of December at the Rocky Ford Tournament. During most of the years the team traveled to the southeastern plains, the tourney was a boon, with many of the other programs at the tournament among those the Pirates would meet late in the season, at the regional qualifying meet.

Not so, anymore. That fact, and the distance to the site, led Coach Dan Janowsky to drop the Rocky Ford event from the schedule and begin the season a week later, at the Buena Vista tournament.

The extra training time will come in handy; this is a team whose ultimate roster is hard, at this point, to set in the mind.

Janowsky and his assistant coaches - Cody Backus and Bob Overturf - have more than 30 athletes out for the sport this year. How many of them will stay with the plan, and who will end up at what weight, is the question.

There is little question that two sophomores who qualified for last year's state tournament - Mike Smith and Joe DuCharme - will be in the starting lineup.

Smith went to the state tournament last season as a freshman at 135 pounds. He is back, and he is bigger. Smith could fight at 152 this season. Having fallen only one match short of medaling at state last year, Smith has the experience to take him far.

DuCharme qualified for state as a freshman at 130 and, like Smith, returns for a sophomore season at a higher weight - possibly at 145.

"These guys are only sophomores," said Janowsky. "Mike was only one round away from a medal and Joe saw state action. Joe also got a lot of playing time in at varsity football this season and both guys have spent a lot of time strength training. They have matured a lot since last year, and that should benefit them."

Steven Smith returns after a successful freshman season last year at 103. Smith took fifth at the regional tournament - one spot away from qualifying for state - and could go at 112 this season.

Travis Moore, a junior, saw some swing time on varsity last year. Moore underwent back surgery in the off season and is awaiting medical clearance to train and compete, possibly at 119 or 125.

As for the rest of the slots on the team - there are prospects, and many of them are interesting.

One of those prospects has experience. Chad Gardner is a senior transfer from Missouri, at 135. "He's done a lot of wrestling," said Janowsky. "He qualified twice for the Missouri state tournament. Her could help us out a lot, make a real difference for us."

Junior Joe Hausotter could also make a difference. In a year marked by the absence of returning varsity competitors in the upper weight classes, Hausotter should give the Pirates points at heavyweight. "Joe had some varsity experience at heavyweight and at 215 last year," said the coach, "and he did pretty well."

Like Hausotter, senior J.D. Holloman backed up a varsity wrestler at 215 last season, and should be ready to step in. "J.D. is a real specimen," said Janowsky. "He's big and he's strong."

Sophomore Cole Mastin is also in the hunt for a spot on the varsity, most likely at 119. Junior Pat Ford should see his first, full-time action on varsity at 160 and Caleb Burggraaf is expected to go at 171. Sophomore Wes Laverty is working at 140.

Among the freshman out this season, Andrew Clark is competing for a spot at 103; Tino Lister, Dylan Sandoval and Ryan Hamilton are battling for spots in the lower weight classes; Waylon Lucero and Wes Royston are in the hunt for spots in the middle weight classes.

"We have a lot of potential," said Janowsky. "We have some good freshmen and sophomores. As a result, it will take some time this year for things to pan out for us. At the start, dual meets might not be our best, but we're not giving up on becoming an effective dual meet team. I think we should have a pretty good tournament team, with a good future. We have a lot of tremendous athletes, and all of them will get better as the season goes on."


Pirate boys return to court after undefeated league season

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

After finishing third in state last season (for the second season in a row), the Pirate boys' basketball team is midway through its second week of practice for the 2006-2007 season.

Though the Pirates lost three starting seniors from last year - all-state Craig Schutz, all-conference Casey Schutz and all-conference Paul Przybylski - they will return to play this season with eight seniors, including Kerry Joe Hilsabeck, Jordan Shaffer, Caleb Ormonde, Adam Trujillo, Travis Richey, Casey Heart, James Martinez and Spur Ross. The team also has four talented juniors who will likely see some play off the bench.

In addition to finishing third in state, the Pirates won league last year, after going undefeated (8-0) in league play and 18-7 overall. Pagosa has not lost a league game in three years.

With the strong returning team, Shaffer said, "We have great tradition and success, and we expect to continue to do that ... I'd expect us to be in the middle of things again ... and be a factor at state."

The Pirates will begin non-league play with games against Buena Vista and Salida on Dec. 1 and 2 in Chaffee County.

After the road games, Pagosa will return home for the Wolf Creek Classic, Dec. 8-9, followed by another home game against Alamosa on Dec. 15.

League play will begin Jan. 19 against Centauri, at home, followed by games against Monte Vista, Bayfield and Ignacio.

After playing league teams twice, the Pirates will fight to win the district tournament in late February and then, with success there, go on to state.


Pagosa Springs Recreation

Youth basketball leagues to remain coed

By Tom Carosello

SUN Columnist

Due to tight constraints on the amount of available gym time at the community center and junior high school this winter, the Pagosa Springs Recreation Department staff has decided that the 9-10 and 11-12 youth basketball leagues will remain coed for this year.

The department will accept registrations for the 9-10 and 11-12 divisions through Dec. 15. Any child who will be 9, 10, 11 or 12 years of age as of Jan. 1, 2007, is eligible to register.

Seasons for these divisions will not begin until January.

Registrations are available at the recreation office and are also available online in Adobe format at (click on the town departments link, then the parks and recreation link). Registrations will also be disbursed at local schools.

Cost is $25 per player and $15 for each additional child in the same, immediate family who participates.

Coaches and team sponsors for these divisions are needed and appreciated. Cost for sponsorship is $150, which includes sponsor's name on team uniforms, commemorative plaque with team picture and recognition in media articles.

For more information call 264-4151, Ext. 231 or 232.

7-8 youth basketball

Game times and pairings for the 7-8 youth basketball games for next week at the community center are as follows:

- Nov. 28 - Orange vs. Red at 5:30 p.m., Black vs. Purple at 6:20 p.m. and Forest vs. Royal at 7:10 p.m.

- Nov. 30 - Royal vs. Orange at 5:30 p.m., Red vs. Purple at 6:20 p.m. and Forest vs. Black at 7:10 p.m.

Complete schedules for the 7-8 season are available at the recreation office in Town Hall and are posted online in Adobe format at (click on the town departments link, then the parks and recreation department link and scroll down to "7-8 Youth Basketball.")

Coaches and parents are reminded that water is permitted on the sidelines during games, however all other snacks and drinks are prohibited in the Community Center gymnasium. Please distribute all postgame snacks in the lobby or in the parking lot.

Youth soccer photos

Coaches and parents who ordered youth soccer photos can contact Jeff Laydon at Pagosa Photography, 264-3686, to check the status of their orders. The recreation office will provide sponsors with team plaques and pictures as soon as they are available.

Adult volleyball canceled

Adult volleyball (open gym) that was being held Mondays from 6:30-8:15 p.m. at Pagosa Springs Junior High School, has been canceled due to lack of interest.

Sports hotline

General information concerning the Pagosa Springs Recreation Department can be obtained 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 on a weekly basis.

If you have questions or concerns, or need additional information about any of the Pagosa Springs Recreation Department adult or youth sports programs, call 264-4151, Ext. 232.



Low impact, low cost

How about this for an idea: do as little as possible with the greatest possible results, at the lowest possible cost, now and in the future. A meeting held a little more than a week ago to garner public comment on a possible park plan for land that could come to the county from the Bureau of Land Management, illustrates a tendency and a dilemma that relate to this idea. A tendency on the part of some planning officials to solicit public input and of many residents to jump to life with all manner of plans and concepts in the face of a request for their opinions; a dilemma for elected officials who must deal with more fundamental, far-reaching problems in the face of that enthusiasm.

The tracts in question are located near the Cloman Industrial Park area, near Stevens Field. There are several tracts of land totaling 120 acres that, given a commitment by the county to use them, might be handed over by the BLM.

And, oh, the ideas. Several large conceptual drawings were displayed at the meeting, illustrating a variety of notions created by planners and resulting from public input. There was an ice arena, an amphitheater, a Frisbee golf course; there were athletic fields, including softball and baseball diamonds. There was a motocross course.

All just plans, mind you, and all reflective of what some residents think is necessary.

Plans often confuse what we might want with what we truly need.

With the town moving ahead on a major addition to outdoor recreation facilities on South 5th Street - the expansion including soccer fields (one high-school regulation or three youth), a picnic area, a river takeout and put-in area, trails, a baseball/softball field and a potential amphitheater site - it is debatable if we need any of the suggested amenities now, or in the near future. Got 'em. Especially considering the considerable youth soccer field space behind the elementary school building and the fields at the high school. Further, while the concepts look swell on paper, the representation does not full disclose the nasty secret regarding such amenities - operation and maintenance costs. Ask the town and school district what their facilities cost the taxpayer. Ask what the insurance cost would be for a county-owned motocross track or ice arena. The county has little revenue to spare for such niceties; there are pressing needs, now, that demand the use of those monies.

And yet, why reject the offer of park land? Why not consider a different mode of use? There are fine recreational hiking and mountain biking trails all through the area and the town created a first-class system on Reservoir Hill. But, is it, or are many of the more distant trails in the area fully accessible to disabled residents?

Why not take the tracts of land and create a low-maintenance trail system that can be used by disabled residents and by hikers and cross-country skiers? Leave the land in as natural a condition as possible, with trails wending their way through relatively undisturbed terrain. If the county is in desperate need of a Frisbee golf course, so be it. But devote the majority of the tracts to a low-impact, low-cost use.

Local governmental entities have, so far, successfully evaded the nasty trap of laws such as TABOR. If the money is there, we can only hope increased revenues are spent wisely on the most immediate needs - on solutions that add to the greatest good for the greatest number. And, we can only hope that our elected leaders see fit to take all the land that is offered to us, and to use it in the environmentally wisest, least costly fashion possible.

Karl Isberg



Shari Pierce

90 years ago

Taken from SUN files of November 24, 1916

Dr. A.J. Nossaman. Dear Doctor: For your information, will say I have just been advised by the State Chemist that the sample of water sent by you from Pagosa Springs "has been examined and found to conform to the bacteriological standard of purity adopted by the Treasury Department on October 21, 1914." Yours truly, J.W. O'Connor, Chief Surgeon, Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Co.

Mr. Thomas was over in his new Dodge car from Tiffany. They all seem to make good use of the gasoline even if it is advancing to forty cents a gallon.

P.C. Crowley bought a nice bunch of cattle from Bob Ewell and J.M. Archuleta this week. P.C. is a good buyer and always willing to pay liberal prices for what he purchases.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of November 27, 1931

The San Juan Basin the past week was visited by a snow storm that reached almost record-breaking dimensions for November in this section. It began snowing hard last Friday afternoon and continued without cessation until Monday afternoon, by which time there was a depth of from two and a half to three and a half feet in this locality, with from nine to ten feet reported on Wolf Creek Pass. Two men, Homer Smith and Earl Lattin, both of Pagosa Springs and employed by the state highway department, had a narrow escape from death when trapped by the storm on the pass when their Caterpillar tractor broke down Saturday morning. They sought refuge under the Elk Creek bridge, until rescued early Wednesday by a crew from Pagosa Springs.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of November 29, 1956

Two new Ground Observer Corps posts have been organized in southwestern Colorado to help provide more thorough coverage to an area of the state which, in the event of air attack, could possibly be along the path of enemy planes, possibly headed for southwestern U.S. targets. Twenty-two miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, in Hinsdale County, John J. Taylor and Archie B. Toner will operate one of the new posts. Taylor has been appointed Post Supervisor and Toner has been named Chief Observer. The other post, in Mineral County, is located northeast of Pagosa Springs at Born's Lake, and will be operated by Mr. and Mrs. Roy A. Brown. These members join nearly 6,000 other Coloradans who have volunteered to serve their country in this vital defense effort.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of November 26, 1981

The first municipally owned and operated geothermal system in the United States was formally dedicated Saturday in Pagosa Springs. Mayor Ross Aragon cut the ceremonial ribbon officially marking the town's acceptance of the $1.3 million hot water heating system. "This project proves the progressive nature of Pagosa Springs and the innovative thinking of the town government," said Cecil Tackett. Tackett is chairman of the Geothermal Advisory Committee which has guided system development over the past three and one-half years. Mike Tucker, representing the Department of Energy Project Control Office in Idaho said, "The Pagosa Springs Project is the seventh to be completed and is the third largest geothermal district in the nation. Your efforts are to be congratulated."



Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center: Giving greater attention to women

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

Cars filled an empty lot at the corner of South 8th and Apache streets under the sun of a beautiful morning last Friday, as people gathered to break ground for the future location of the Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center.

The faith-based nonprofit currently works out of a small house a few blocks north on 8th Street, but judging from the crowd that attended the 9 a.m. ceremony, there is excitement and anticipation over the 3,200 square-foot, L-shaped facility that is to be built just a stone's throw from the high school.

In a prayer that opened the ground-breaking ceremony, Pastor Bart Burnett thanked God for the successes and future of the nonprofit and proclaimed that its work is "all about life."

Following the invocation, Kathy Koy, executive director of the pregnancy center, gave those in attendance a brief introduction to the center and its purpose:

As Koy expressed in her speech, the Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center has provided a "listening ear" to women since January 1999. Further, she went on to say, It has helped women "make good life decisions" and "healed women after an abortion," while promoting abstinence and marriage.

At the ground breaking, the nonprofit's mission statement was also presented: "Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center is a Christ-centered, Biblically based ministry whose mission is to promote God's plan for crisis pregnancies, relationships, marriage, the sanctity of human life, and healing for those who have experienced abortion."

The construction project, which began in 2005, is possible because of the gifts of three anonymous donors - who gave the land and will pay for building and furnishing costs, said Koy.

Plans for the facility include several counseling rooms, offices and a chapel. Supporters hope the new facility will help the pregnancy center expand its services and meet the needs of more clients.

The current center has one room for counseling and two makeshift offices (in the building's kitchen and living room).

But despite structural challenges, the center is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday - and is staffed by Koy, Patty Stoeppleman (the administrative assistant) and volunteers, who undergo over 20 hours of training and weeks of oversight in order to offer support to clients.

Koy described the typical process of support:

Many women are brought in the door by the free pregnancy tests offered by the pregnancy center, and the center's staff and volunteers take the opportunity to build a relationship with the client.

Some leave after receiving their results, said Koy, but others stay to discuss the concerns prompted by the test results.

If the test is negative, staffers address the client's choice to be sexually active, emphasizing the threat of STDs and the individual's emotional well-being, described Koy.

Several pamphlets that are available in the center display the prevalence of STDs, while advocating an abstinence-only approach to prevention.

According to Koy, the center gives the "truthful facts about the limitations of birth control methods" - in regard to both pregnancy and STDs.

One pamphlet in the pregnancy center states that condoms have a failure rate of one in six and many STDs are transmissible by simple skin-to-skin contact.

Since prophylactics are not completely effective means of preventing STDs, the pregnancy center advocates abstinence until marriage, which it believes also protects a person's emotional well-being.

In addition, the abstinence-only approach is in accord with the Evangelical Christian framework of the Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center.

If the test comes back positive, the pregnancy center's support team seeks to provide clients with alternatives to abortion.

"I'm not here to force my views on you. I'm here to make you think about it in a way you've never thought before," said Koy.

Koy went on to say that the center was "not into scaring (clients) into making better choices."

The center does not show women graphic photos of aborted fetuses, but it does show images of fetuses at various stages of their early development, which emphasize their humanness.

Koy said this was part of providing women with all the information they need to make a good decision.

Koy acknowledged that many volunteers "come in that want to save babies," but in training the volunteers, the center focuses on a vision of hearing the woman and helping her in the process of making a decision.

"The focus is not a baby focus," said Koy, "it's a woman focus."

If the woman chooses to have the child, the center goes on to help her decide between adoption and motherhood.

The center gives further aid to women who carry to term, providing items such as maternity clothes; and those who decide to become a parent can receive diapers, clothes, formula and even baby furniture.

Koy estimated that 40 percent of the center's clients are teens. For the rest, the pregnancy center provides help with relationship issues, as well as support regarding unplanned pregnancies and STDs.

In addition, Koy said she was proud of the center's ministry to women who have had an abortion, and suffered emotional or spiritual wounds, saying that support was one of the best things the center does.

Part of the nonprofit's vision is "aiding and assisting women and men who have experienced abortion in their own lives to find forgiveness, comfort, and peace within themselves and with God through Jesus Christ," says the center's pamphlet.

Koy said that in the future, especially with the new facility, the center would like to expand its programs to provide an incentive program for participation, support groups, parenting classes and a men's program.

The Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center carries a vision of building awareness for "the value and sacred nature of human life in all stages of development," but according to Koy, the "relationships to me are the best part."

Both current and future pregnancy centers are near the San Juan Basin Health Department, which provides pregnancy support as an institution of public health and medicine.

While the pregnancy center is a religious nonprofit - and thus free to base its service on Christian moral teachings, promoting abstinence and alternatives to abortion - the San Juan Basin Health Department is a public institution that must protect the individual's legal freedom to choose methods of care, though it may share social goals with the pregnancy center.

As a public health department, San Juan Basin Health focuses on and treats the objective health of patients and the community, leaving morality and spirituality to the patient's personal and religious lives.

Out of concern for the patient's health, the health department advocates the use of birth control and condoms - seeing sexual activity as a persistent social reality that prompts health concerns, such as STDs, that must be addressed.

In other words, though abstinence is the only way to completely prevent pregnancy or STDs, since not every one will abstain, prophylactics are a pragmatic necessity in preventing diseases and unwanted pregnancy.

When confronted with an emergency pregnancy, staff at San Juan Basin Health do not suggest, encourage or arrange abortions, but they do make patients aware of all the options, said Susie Kleckner, nurse manager, without trying to sway their decision - since the right to choose is legally protected in the United States.

The health department provides pregnancy tests and counseling, and if a woman is pregnant, the first issue nurses address is how to be healthy while pregnant, said Kleckner. Then the staff helps the patient arrange her prenatal care.

Through the "Nurse-Family Partnership," also known as "Healthy Kids," the health department attempts to help first time moms - from pregnancy through the child's second year.

Expectant mothers can also go to San Juan Basin Health in Durango and periodically in Pagosa, for prenatal care.

Like the Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center, which provides its services for free, San Juan Basin Health makes care available to all citizens, with a sliding fee scale.

Though guided under different frameworks - faith-based and public - the Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center and San Juan Basin Health work to support the well-being of women and children in the community, and both Koy and Kleckner expressed a desire to foster positive working relationships between entities.

With the future construction and growth of the pregnancy center, even greater attention will be given to women in Archuleta County who need support.


Pagosa's Past

Executive Order sets reservation boundaries

By John M. Motter

SUN Columnist

As General Miles had promised, he took the Jicarilla story of their grievances to the proper authorities in Washington.

On Dec. 24, 1886, the commissioner sent Special Agent Henry S. Welton to Santa Fe to set in motion the selection of a reservation. Welton proved to be the right man for the job.

Determined to be fair to all parties, he first asked Jicarilla headmen to help him select land. Their first choice was near Ojo Caliente on the Chama River near Bear Creek. Welton looked into the request, but was convinced that the old reservation was more suitable and politically easier to obtain.

Lt. Crittenden was sent by Col. Grierson to assist Welton in determining the number of settlers in the old reservation. He found that some Mexicans were occupying land there, and they had built pens and shanties to give the false appearance of homesteads. Welton informed the settlers that their claims were illegal and would not be recognized. In fact, these settlers were trespassing, since the old reservation had not been opened to settlement.

Welton encountered considerable opposition from both the Mexicans and the stock men of the area. He wrote the commissioner telling him that he feared an uprising by the settlers. Thereupon Major David Perry was sent to Amargo with troops to prevent any possible conflict. Welton also recommended that Perry forbid any further settlements.

On Jan. 26, 1887, Welton recommended to the Indian Office that lands as defined by the Executive Order of Sept. 21, 1880, again be set aside, with the exception of Amargo and Monero, which were within the mining area. As compensation for these exemptions, additional land on the west side of the reservation would be included in the boundaries. Welton strongly urged that prompt action be taken to obtain presidential approval because opposition to the Jicarilla reoccupation was mounting. The lobbyist pets of Henry Teller, who was now a U.S. Senator from Colorado, were desperately trying to get rid of Agent Welton, and unfavorable stories about both him and Commissioner Atkins appeared in Denver newspapers. Finally, on Feb. 11, 1887, by Executive Order, President Grover Cleveland set a side a reservation for the Jicarilla, the boundaries being those recommended by Welton.

The opposition, led by Teller, continued to lobby, quite confident that they could still prevent the reoccupation which they tried to do by deleting from the Indian appropriations bill a $1,500 allocation for moving the Jicarilla to their old reservation.

The Jicarilla were so determined to return, however, that the lack of funds did not stop them. The military also cooperated. Gov. Ross wrote to the commissioner stating that the "failure of this appropriation need in no way interfere with the removal of these Indians Š the Indians can easily remove themselves."

Welton was given complete control of the removal. On April 11, 1887, while he was in Washington, the acting commissioner advised him to delay moving the Jicarilla until July. Welton at first agreed. Two weeks later, he decided not to delay any longer since this might give the opposition another chance to prevent the reoccupation. He left for the new reservation with 500 Jicarilla and approximately 2,000 head of livestock on April 25. On the way they were joined by fellow tribesmen who had been waiting at San Juan and San Ildedonso Pueblos.

More next week on Jicarilla occupation of their new home. Information for this series of articles is taken from "The Jicarilla Apache Tribe, A History, 1846-1970," by Veronica E. Velarde Tiller.


Pagosa Sky Watch

A check of Saturn won't show the storm

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

The following sun and moon data is provided by the United States Naval Observatory.

Sunrise: 6:55 a.m.

Sunset: 4:53 p.m.

Moonrise: 9:54 a.m.

Moonset: 7:01 p.m.

Moon phase: The moon is waxing crescent with 9 percent of the visible disk illuminated.

A meteorological phenomenon previously thought of as exclusive to Earth has appeared on another planet and NASA scientists are intrigued.

Using imaging equipment on NASA's Cassini spacecraft, astronomers have recently discovered a hurricane-like storm near Saturn's south pole with a well-developed eye and ringed by lofty clouds. Observations indicate the storm spans a dark area inside a bright, thick ring of clouds and is approximately 5,000 miles wide, or two-thirds the diameter of Earth.

According to a NASA news release issued Nov. 9, Cassini imaging equipment filmed the storm during a three-hour period, and those observations indicate winds ripping around Saturn's southern pole at 350 miles per hour. The same film captured a shadow cast by a ring of tall clouds surrounding the pole and two spiral arms of clouds extending from the storm's central ring. Cassini astronomers say the ring clouds are two to five times taller than the clouds of thunderstorms and hurricanes on Earth, and they estimate Saturn's hurricane clouds towering at 20 to 45 miles above the clouds in the center of the storm. With wind speeds tripling that of an Earth-based hurricane and clouds of monstrous proportions, if the storm is in fact a saturnian hurricane, compared to those on Earth, it is one of colossal proportions.

Although it is unclear if the saturnian storm is in fact a bonafide hurricane, Cassini astronomers say it bears all the hallmarks of an Earth-based storm - including ring clouds or eye wall clouds - and that their presence in the saturnian storm indicates hurricanes may be possible on planets beyond Earth.

According to Cassini astronomers, ring clouds and eye wall clouds form when moist air flows inward across the ocean's surface, then rises vertically and releases heavy rain around an interior circle of descending air that is the eye of the storm itself.

There's just one problem however. Saturn is a gas giant planet and thus, lacks an ocean. Therefore, it remains unclear if and how moist convection patterns may or may not be driving Saturn's storm. Secondly, it appears the saturnian hurricane does not wander like an Earth-based hurricane, and in fact, observations indicate the storm appears locked to Saturn's south polar region. Nevertheless, astronomers say the dark "eye" at the pole, the eye wall clouds and the spiral arms are compelling evidence for the presence of a hurricane-like system.

"It looks like a hurricane, but it doesn't behave like a hurricane," said Andrew Ingersoll, a member of the Cassini imaging team based at the California Institute of Technology. "Whatever it is, we're going to focus on the eye of this storm and find out why it's there."

Peculiar atmospheric conditions around the storm's eye may give Cassini astronomers and team members such as Ingersoll just the advantage they need to probe into the depths of the storm, and into unprecedented depths of Saturn's atmosphere.

"The clear skies over the eye appear to extend down to a level about twice as deep as the usual cloud level observed on Saturn," said Kevin H. Baines of Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "This gives us the deepest view into Saturn over a wide range of wavelengths, and reveals a mysterious set of dark clouds at the bottom of the eye."

Hurricanes, with their distinctive eye-wall clouds have not been observed on any planet other than Earth. And not even Jupiter's Great Red Spot has an eye or eye-wall, thus, and aside from Earth, it appears Saturn's storm is a planetary anomaly.

Astronomers will continue to monitor atmospheric changes on the ringed planet, particularly atmospheric temperature changes over Saturn's south pole, to determine how atmospheric temperature and seasonal atmospheric changes drive the dramatic meteorological events unfolding at the planet's south pole.

Unfortunately, and unlike Jupiter's Great Red Spot, viewing Saturn's peculiar new storm is far beyond the capabilities of the backyard astronomer. Nevertheless, Saturn itself will be clearly visible over the coming weeks. Although the planet rises in the east around 11 p.m., best views can be had in the predawn hours when the planet soars high almost due south - look for a bright, cream-colored object nestled near the crook of the Sickle of Leo asterism.



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Don't forget sunglasses and sunscreen

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

Warm sunny days and chilly clear nights have prevailed since last week's edition of The SUN hit newsstands, and the trend should continue into the weekend. Beyond that ... we'll see.

High temperatures over the past several days have consistently climbed to the mid-50s, while lows varied only a degree or two, averaging 21 degrees.

No precipitation fell on Pagosa Springs and the surrounding areas throughout the period, with just .6 inches of moisture having fallen, so far this month. That amount is well below the November average, which, if it stands, will result in the first dry month of the past five. July through October brought well-above average rain to the region.

Unfortunately, the National Weather Service forecast calls for sunny to partly cloudy skies well into the first week of December. High temperatures will slip into the 40s tomorrow through Sunday, when a cool front will pass through, dropping them to just the upper 30s. By next Thursday, however, temperatures will rebound to around 50. Lows will follow the same course, hovering around 20 until Monday and Tuesday, when the low teens will prevail.

By 6:20 a.m. Tuesday, the Wolf Creek Ski Area reported 34 inches of powder and packed powder at its mountain summit, with 29 inches midway. No new snow had fallen in the previous seven days, and the season total stood at 94 inches.

Under early-season conditions, with possible obstacles present, 73 of 77 trails were open, serving 1,520 acres of skiable terrain. Four lifts were in operation, and Powder Puff was Tuesday's "pick of the hill."

The Alberta Peak Area, Horseshoe Bowl Area, Water Fall Area and Knife Ridge are now open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (4 p.m. in the Water Fall Area), but only expert skiers are recommended. The gated portion of the Water Fall Area remains closed.

With pleasant daytime temperatures and bright sunny skies, conditions will remain favorable for the next several days. Don't forget sunglasses and sunscreen.