December 21, 2006

Front Page

$3.4 million for 2007 road projects

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

With a unanimous nod from the board of county commissioners Dec. 14, Archuleta County is prepared to wield a $28.9 million budgetary hammer during 2007.

The $28.9 million figure includes capital improvement and enterprise funds, with total government operations at $15.5 million.

In a carryover from last year's spending strategy, road improvement projects and procurement of road maintenance equipment are among the county's top priorities for 2007.

"Our big projects are obviously road and bridge projects," said Archuleta County Finance Director Bob Burchett.

And Burchett listed a number of projects slated for 2007, including: $430,000 for Pinon Causeway reconstruction between Village Drive and Carlie Place; $500,000 for reconstruction and paving of County Road 975 between Colo. 151 and the New Mexico state line; $34,888 for engineering on road improvements slated for North Pagosa Boulevard between U.S. 160 and Village Drive; $1.225 million for Juanita Bridge and West Cat Creek Bridge replacement; $460,000 for paving Trails Boulevard from U.S. 160 to Sam Houston Avenue; $375,000 for paving and reconstruction of Park Avenue, $130,000 for paving Port Avenue; and $260,000 for reconstruction and paving of Holiday Avenue.

Also in the budget are plans for heavy equipment acquisitions including two new road graders, four heavy hauling trucks, and two dump trucks. Burchett said final purchasing decisions will depend on the public works director's prioritization of needs. And the county will use lease-purchase agreements to buy the equipment.

The budget also earmarks funds for two new sheriff's vehicles after collisions this year - one during a high speed chase on Piedra Road, the second on Light Plant Road during a deputy's response to a call - left two patrol vehicles totaled.

The 2007 budget includes $116,000 in the Conservation Trust Fund, with the dollars earmarked exclusively for parks and recreation projects. Although federal PILT funds (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) were cut by 15 percent, from $543,195 in 2006 to an estimated $465,361 for 2007.

County employees will reap some benefit from the spending plan, with across-the-board cost of living raises hovering around 3 percent, coupled with a mechanism for merit-based salary increases. In addition, the budget details an 8.5-percent raise for the director of emergency operations, a 9.4-percent raise for the information systems director, a proposed 12-percent salary increase for the finance director, and detention officers receiving slightly more than 3 percent.

In comparison to 2006, general fund budgeted expenses are up 2.35 percent in 2007, while government operations were trimmed by $300,000 from last year.

Burchett said spending strategies for 2007 also include no dipping into general fund reserves, and spending down road and bridge reserve funds.

Property tax revenues are projected at $4.5 million for 2007 - up from $4.27 million in 2006.

Burchett said the 2007 budget represents a balanced, performance based budget that will help the county better identify goals and set up for long range planning.

Burchett said the final budget document will be available by mid-January.

 

Slight increase in water, sewer rates

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) board of directors met Dec. 12 and, among other things, adopted its 2007 budget.

As a result, consumers within the district can expect slight rate increases for water and wastewater services in the coming year.

As part of an annual process, district staff prepared a preliminary budget for the board before an Oct. 15 deadline. In a subsequent Nov. 1 workshop, the board contemplated necessary funding for various capital projects, and considered the need for increased service charges in respect to its water and wastewater enterprise funds. At that time, the preliminary budget illustrated increased operating costs of approximately 11 percent and 7.5 percent for water and wastewater, respectively.

Accordingly, the district has projected increased service charges of 20 percent for water service and 11 percent for wastewater service, probably effective by the May/June 2007 meter-reading period. According to district staff, the increases should fully fund the costs of providing services, while contributing to ongoing capital projects, such as system expansion, upgrades and required repairs.

Current water service rates include a base rate of $8, plus $2.20 for the first 1,000 gallons (first tier), $4.45 per 1,000 gallons from 1,001 to 8,000 gallons (second tier), and $5.40 per 1,000 gallons for usage over 8,001 (third tier). The average monthly bill is $25.60.

If, and when, the new water service rates do take effect, the base rate will increase to $9, with a first tier rate of $2.70 ($.50 increase), a second tier rate of $5.15 ($.70 increase) and a third tier rate of $6.10 ($.70 increase). The average monthly bill will rise to $30.60.

Wastewater service rates will increase just $2, to $20 per equivalent unit (EU). Generally speaking, one residential dwelling equals one EU.

In respect to the overall 2007 budget, the district's total projected revenues from all sources will equal approximately $9.43 million, and its total expenditures will equal roughly $14.55 million, including about $3.97 million in bond proceeds and nearly $1.15 million from reserves. A substantial portion of the bond proceeds will go toward the cost of expanding Stevens Reservoir, while much of the reserve amount will pay for extending the sewer system in Chris Mountain Village.

Though not part of written policy, the district maintains reserves in the water and wastewater enterprise funds in the event an unforeseen calamity occurs. As the district's assistant finance manager Shellie Tressler explained, "If Jackson Mountain slid and took out the entire town water supply, we'd need funding sufficient to carry us for a time."

Consequently, the projected ending balance in the 2007 water enterprise fund is $14.87 million. That total is down 8 percent from projected 2006, but includes an unrestricted cash balance equal to 20 percent of 2007 projected revenues, which is sufficient to carry five months of operating expenditures and one year of debt service.

The ending balance in the wastewater enterprise fund is $3.81 million, or 25 percent less than that of projected 2006. Still, it includes an unrestricted cash balance equal to 60 percent of 2007 projected revenues, which is sufficient to carry one year of operating expenditures and debt service.

The coming year's operating revenues are projected to decrease by over $618,000 in the water enterprise fund, and $927,000 in the wastewater enterprise fund, in large part because of a 2006 spike in advance collections for connection charges and capital investment fees. Those charges were the result of a surge in service demands by property owners hoping to avoid the imposition of a newly announced Water Resource Fee.

Operating expenses, on the other hand, will increase as a result of necessary training, certification and salary adjustments for district employees; increased health insurance costs; increased regulatory requirements for laboratory testing, water quality and wastewater effluent; rising costs of electrical service; and increasing legal and engineering expenses. The 2007 budget will also allow the district to add two full-time field personnel considered essential to maintaining the current level of services.

According to the PAWSD board and staff, increases in the water and wastewater service charges anticipated by May/June 2007 will help offset the differences in revenues versus expenses. Meanwhile, the finance department says the district is in stable financial condition and is well-poised for the challenges presented by growth. The new budget is balanced, meets all statutory requirements and follows the long-term capital plan, allowing a continuation of quality services to the community.

 

County fronts Rx plan

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

Following Tuesday's board of county commissioner approval, all county residents will soon have access to a discount prescription drug buying program.

Called the Caremark Prescription Drug Card Program, the plan allows all county residents, regardless of their insurance or financial status, access to discount prescription drugs when they present their Caremark membership card at participating pharmacies.

"Any resident of Archuleta County, part-time or full-time, is eligible," said County Administrator Bob Campbell. Campbell said the cards will be available within 60 to 90 days at Archuleta County Human Services, the senior center, and at county administrative offices.

"Just stop by, pick up the card, take it and use it," Campbell said.

Campbell explained that individuals can shop the card against their insurance in order to get the best deal on prescription medications.

"You can present both cards and ask for the best deal," Campbell said.

And Campbell added that greatest savings may be had on non-generic drugs.

According to Campbell, La Plata and Hinsdale counties have both joined the program, and San Juan County in New Mexico has realized $18,000 in constituent savings in September 2006. Campbell said although Hinsdale and La Plata had not yet reported savings figures, both counties report positive experiences so far. Campbell said Caremark will provide a monthly savings report to participating counties.

Campbell said the program is made possible by virtue of the county's membership in the National Association of Counties (NACO), and although he was aware of the program during his tenure in New Mexico, Commissioner Robin Schiro brought the information back from a NACO conference and got the ball rolling in Archuleta County.

Although Campbell said the program has strong merit, the downside is that not all pharmacies, particularly small, independently-owned establishments, will accept the Caremark Card.

He said La Plata County has had such experiences, yet larger, chain pharmacies with their stronger buying power and the ability to offer deeper discounts, generally participate.

La Plata County reports success at pharmacies inside Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Safeway and City Market.

Use of the card, Campbell said, is only limited by the pharmacy's participation in the Caremark program.

Campbell added that, beyond helping county residents, the program will also help trim operating costs at the jail. And Campbell anticipated a 20-percent reduction in prescription drug costs at the facility.

Campbell said county staff members have been working for about three months on the project, and are excited to offer the program to residents.

"It's certainly a benefit to the citizens. I think it's going to be a great program for people of the county," Campbell said.

 

Inside The Sun

Commissioners fail to set Big Box session

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

A board of county commissioner dispute over scheduling squelched efforts to begin public discussions on Big Box regulations in Archuleta County.

The disagreement unfolded during Tuesday's board of county commissioners meeting when Commissioner Ronnie Zaday led the charge by calling for a preliminary Big Box work session in January.

Zaday proposed three dates and spoke of the necessity to establish a legislation timetable, but her proposition received a lukewarm response from commissioners John Egan and Robin Schiro. The meeting adjourned without a work session date set.

In September, when town officials were grappling with big box issues of their own, including passage of a Big Box ordinance, Egan and Schiro both expressed support for seeking joint town-county solutions to the Big Box issue. Since then, with Egan's failed election bid, his days in office are numbered, and the commissioner acknowledged there is little chance an earnest Big Box dialogue within the county will get off the ground before he steps down Jan. 9 and commissioner-elect Bob Moomaw takes the District 3 seat.

Following the meeting, Egan acknowledged his lame-duck status and said, "Personally, Big Box is a huge issue for me and I wanted to get something done before I left office." But, he said time constraints and public notification deadlines made it difficult to accomplish the task.

Schiro, however, has two years left in office, but would not commit to a January work session.

Schiro said the board should await the arrival of commissioner-elect Moomaw and a new director of county development before the Big Box discussions begin.

Zaday's three proposed work session dates were after Moomaw's Jan. 9 arrival. When questioned by the board, Moomaw, who was in the audience, said his schedule could accommodate a January work session.

Archuleta County Administrator Bob Campbell said the county was in the process of hiring a director of county development, and he anticipated candidate selection by February with another four weeks allotted for the candidate's relocation to Pagosa Springs.

Schiro suggested expediting the hiring process or including the candidate in conference calls once the Big Box discussions begin.

Campbell said he would work to include the candidate in the dialogue, once the selection has been made, as best he could.

Zaday said timing was important due to constituent inquiries, growth and development pressures, and public pledges of support made previously by the commissioners to the town. Zaday said Pagosa Springs Mayor Ross Aragon chastised her during a Dec. 11 meeting for the county's failure to follow through on those pledges.

Schiro said she did not explicitly state to the town that she would work toward a big box solution. She also said she was committed to working with the town.

In an e-mail to Angela Atkinson (sent to The SUN by Atkinson), a longtime proponent of town and county big box regulations, Schiro wrote, "I think that what we actually said was that we would work with the Town on joint solutions such as this topic and many others; we did not state that we would take action on a County ordinance in a timely fashion (at least that is not what I stated and I cannot speak for John)."

In the e-mail, Schiro writes that editing of the land use code and the hiring of a director of county development trump the big box discussion.

In the closing of her correspondence Schiro writes, "Everyone in the public thinks they know what our schedule is and what issues are currently on our plate, but we no longer bring issues that we are working on or not yet complete to BOCC meetings until they are complete and ready to be acted on. Timing is everything."

Atkinson has expressed frustration with the county and Schiro's response, and said her requests to discuss big box issues with the commissioners have been put off time and again. First, she said she was asked to wait until after the November election, and now she is being asked to wait again until after the hiring of the new director of county development.

"To have conflicting or inconsistent land use policies between jurisdictions makes no sense and can actually foster increased sprawl and patchwork development. Cooperation between the Town and County is critical to addressing issues that have regional scope and implications such as commercial development, housing, transportation, etc. We look to you as leaders to have the foresight to address these matters before they become problems," Atkinson wrote to Egan and Schiro.

Campbell said county planning staff is developing position papers on the Big Box issue, and once scheduled, work sessions will be duly noticed.

 

Slow going for group seeking healthier school meals

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

The Pagosa area school nutrition group, which is not an institutional part of Archuleta School District 50 Joint, has found the road of progress slow, as it attempts to work with the district to create a healthier school meal program at the elementary school.

In a meeting last month, district administrators authorized the group to work with Charlotte Lee (food services manager) and Kate Lister (elementary school principal) to construct a pilot school lunch program in the elementary school - one which would provide healthier alternatives to processed foods typically available to schools. The group was also encouraged to promote good nutrition in the schools and work in an advisory role with the district.

Crista Munro, who co-chairs the nutrition group, said the creation of the pilot program has been stalled, since communication channels with Lee have been difficult to establish.

In an e-mail sent to group participants after the meeting with administrators in late November, Munro and co-leader Ronnie Doctor wrote, "We left the meeting with the feeling that the administration is willing to work toward continuing to make improvements in the food service program ... The most exciting thing that came out of the meeting was Charlotte's agreement to trying a Pilot Program at the elementary school."

Since the meeting Lee has provided an informational packet and a request that the group prepare menu proposals, but has not been available to answer questions or discuss the issue beyond that release of information, said Munro.

According to Doctor, Lee provided the information to the nutrition group through interschool mail, via Lister, but has not seemed interested in meeting.

As agreed upon during the November meeting, Lee provided the nutrition group with information on the school meals program, including federal and state requirements. In addition, according to Munro, Lee asked for menu proposals for breakfast and lunch to be prepared for the whole district, covering a month-long period and adhering to federal and state requirements, so that she could review the nutrition group's suggestions and tell them how much the meal plans would cost.

After the meeting with administrators, Munro said she only expected the pilot program, and any menu proposal, to cover the elementary school - which would be a more manageable task for the new volunteer nutrition group. Munro suggested it would be more appropriate to start with a two-week menu that could be rotated into the elementary school's current menu, on a trial basis.

Munro worried that the month-long menu proposal would be a task the nutrition group was doomed to fail, without being able to work through the process with Lee.

"We were really hoping for a more cooperative thing," said Munro, the two entities coming together to define and implement reasonable goals.

The pilot program at the elementary school isn't moving as quickly as the nutrition group had hoped, said Munro, with the menu proposals and a state school lunch audit, that Lee is busy with, being prerequisites for moving forward.

"We've been told that they would be willing to consider a pilot program," said Munro, "but we don't have any definition of what a pilot program would be."

"We really just need to sit down with Charlotte and ask what would be easiest," said Munro, who expressed willingness to consider a gradual phase-in of healthy foods, rather than a pilot program.

Superintendent Duane Noggle had a different understanding of progress on the nutrition front, saying that since the November meeting, two meals with unprocessed foods have been served every week. Noggle has also pointed to the district's plans to increase fresh fruits and vegetables in its meals, as well as make vending machine offerings healthier. And though he did not have all the details, Noggle did not think that the audit of current menus and books would interfere with any pilot program.

As far as the menu proposals, Noggle suggested that Lee was trying to understand the goals of the nutrition group, while providing the group with information on requirements - both governmental and budgetary.

"She needs to know their expectations," he said.

Attempts were made to contact Lee, but she was unavailable to comment.

According to Noggle, the district "would welcome the two groups working together," even though the nutrition group is not officially endorsed by the district. "They are parents, and we want parent involvement ... obviously they have done a lot of research and we want to use that to our advantage. It makes good sense to me; I think there is a good working relationship, as far as I know," said Noggle.

The nutrition group will take part in a Partners in Education (PIE) family night at the elementary school March 1, which will focus on nutrition, said Stephanie Jones, co-chair of PIE. (PIE is similar to a parent teacher association at the elementary school.)

Doctor said the PIE family night will coincide with a week-long nutrition fair during elementary school lunches, led by the nutrition group, which will encourage students to make healthy food choices.

Lister has been supportive of improving nutrition in the district (especially at the elementary school), as have members of the school board, who have provided school nutrition information to the nutrition group from a presentation at the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) conference, said Munro and Doctor. The nutrition group will continue to communicate with the district in the new year, in order to consider what course of action should be taken.

 

Public comment sought on Jackson Mountain forest project

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

The Pagosa Ranger District/Field Office of the San Juan National Forest invites public comment on a proposed forest restoration project in the Jackson Mountain area, seven miles east of Pagosa Springs. If possible, comments should be in by Jan. 19.

As planned, the seven-year project will restore health to more than a thousand acres of mixed-conifer and aspen forest, while reducing the risk of wildfire to people and property along the U.S. 160 corridor near San Juan River Resort.

According to forest officials, it is necessary to restore warm-dry mixed conifer stands to resilient and sustainable conditions, more able to withstand expected natural disturbances like fire, disease, insect infestation and drought. The promotion and maintenance of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir in various size and age classes will allow greater biological diversity and ecosystem function within conifer forests.

Likewise, the promotion and maintenance of existing aspen stands will further add to biological diversity and ecosystem function, while enhancing visual esthetics important to a large segment of the general population.

Throughout, the project will reduce stand densities, improve stand structure and remove trees of poor individual health among ponderosa forests. In the process, many pervading white fir trees, which are more vulnerable to fire, disease, insect infestation and drought, will be removed from mixed conifer and aspen stands, in favor of species more resistant to such disturbances. Meanwhile, commercial harvest, mechanical thinning, or prescribed burning will reduce fuel continuity, particularly among ladder fuels, which could carry catastrophic fire to the forest crown.

In general, the project will involve three primary activities. Improvement cuts and patch clear-cutting will be accomplished through timber sales, service contracts, or the issuance of special-use permits. Improvement cuts will thin the forest "from below," thereby retaining the largest ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and aspen. Patch clear-cuts will result in the clearing of two- to five-acre areas, except where pre-settlement (prior to human settlement) ponderosa pine or Douglas fir might be retained as reserves, if the wind-throw risk of fire is deemed minimal.

Mastication, or mechanical mowing, of Gambel oak and/or small white fir trees will occur in some units, where approximately 60 to 80 percent of oak will be removed. The tallest oak, or those largest in diameter, will be preserved, as will white fir trees at least 12 inches in diameter.

Prescribed burning will take place in two phases. Slash piles and other fuel concentrations resulting from thinning activities will be burned first, followed by more broad-scale understory burning. Depending on weather, fuels and ground conditions, burning will occur over the course of several years.

All told, the project will result in the improvement cutting of 70 acres of ponderosa pine and 670 acres of warm-dry mixed conifer. Patch clear-cutting will remove trees in 91 acres of forest, and mastication will mow 153 acres of oak and small white fir. Prescribed burning will clean a total of 1,072 acres.

To accomplish its mission, the Forest Service will have to re-construct seven miles of existing forest roads, build one mile of temporary road, and decommission three-tenths-of-a-mile of road. It will install gates on temporary roads, and crews will work to control the spread of noxious weeds. Meanwhile, forest products will be available to commercial and non-commercial entities.

For more information on the Jackson Mountain forest restoration and thinning project, or any of the other Forest Service projects in the Pagosa Springs area, contact the Pagosa Ranger District/Field Office of the San Juan National Forest at 264-2268. You can reach supervisory forester Steve Hartvigsen at 264-1513, fire management officer Steve Henschel at 264-1536, wildlife biologist Anthony Garcia at 264-1544, or district ranger Kevin Khung at 264-1520.

 

Local authorities seek missing person

The Archuleta County Sheriff Department issued a missing person bulletin Wednesday, seeking information concerning a local man who went missing in the early morning hours of Dec. 19.

Joshuae (Josh) Ryan Postolese, 24, was reportedly last seen at 4 a.m. Dec. 19 in the Meadows subdivision west of Pagosa Springs.

Postolese is 5 foot, 8 inches tall and weighs approximately 150 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes. When last seen, Postolese was wearing grey workout pants, a black sweater/jacket with the word "Jordan" written on it, and a white stocking cap with a blue stripe at the bottom. He reportedly had no identification on his person, and no money.

The sheriff department issued a missing person bulletin to agencies in the Four Corners region and also to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which disperses bulletins to a wider area.

Anyone with information concerning Postolese and his whereabouts is asked to call dispatch, at 264-2131.

 

CLUB 20 shares cabinet considerations with Ritter

In a recent letter to Colorado Governor-Elect Bill Ritter, CLUB 20 shared some considerations concerning his cabinet appointments to lead the Departments of Transportation, Natural Resources and Local Affairs.

CLUB 20 urged the governor-elect to appoint a someone to lead the Department of Transportation who embraces the need to adequately fund a statewide transportation infrastructure.

"We firmly believe that the answer to Colorado's overwhelming transportation infrastructure needs lies in securing a new long-term funding mechanism rather than reallocating our current limited funds to provide limited benefit to one segment of the citizenry at the expense of another," wrote Executive Director Reeves Brown. CLUB 20 has staunchly defended against attempts by some Front Range interests in recent years to reallocate Colorado's transportation funds to provide more benefit to the metro area at the expense of rural Colorado.

CLUB 20 also encouraged Ritter to consider reappointing Russell George as director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Referencing his leadership of the HB-1177 Inter-Basin Compact Committee and the Roadless Task Force, CLUB 20 noted that "Russ has earned respect from diverse constituencies across the state as a fair-minded and thoughtful administrator who embraces a collaborative spirit for the benefit of all."

Noting the unprecedented level of energy development in many of western Colorado's communities, and the resulting impacts of this development on local transportation infrastructure, social service demands and schools, CLUB 20 urged the governor-elect to appoint leadership within the Department of Local Affairs to protect the intent of energy impact funds to mitigate the adverse impacts of energy development on source communities.

CLUB 20 is the 50-year-old coalition of the individuals, businesses, organizations and towns in Western Colorado's 22 counties, and exists to advocate for the interests of this region on both the state and national level. Information about the organization can be obtained by contacting the CLUB 20 office at (970) 242-3264 or visiting the Web site at www.club20.org.

 

Homebuyer education at Housing Solutions

Are you confused by mortgage advertisements that seem too good to be true?

Do you know the difference between your interest rate and your APR?

Concerned about predatory lenders?

Housing Solutions for the Southwest will offer a Homebuyer Education class 5:50-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 9, and Wednesday, Jan. 10.

 

Computer Fix-It-Free Day set

Computer on the blink?

The mission of the Computer Fix-It-Free Day is to provide free technical assistance to members of the community who would otherwise not be able to afford it.

The event is to benefit those who have a computer by means of hand-me-down or charity that is not functioning correctly. Local computer technicians are donating their time to this event.

Used parts will be provided at no charge for the purpose of repair by The Humane Society and the volunteering computer technicians. If new parts are needed, they will be provided at a discount.

If you would like to donate parts and/or used computers, label the items "Fix-It-Free" and drop them at the Humane Society Thrift Store.

The session will be 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 6 - by appointment only.

Only one computer per household will be repaired. Interested individuals can reserve a one-hour time slot by calling 731-6373.

 

Outdoors

Enjoy the Great Outdoors, but watch the weather

The National Weather Service issues a variety of winter weather watches, warnings and advisories.

A tragic example of what can happen during the winter weather season was the blizzard of 1997. With mild temperatures just before the blizzard in October, many residents and visitors to Colorado had a difficult time believing that a widespread blizzard could be possible. Over eastern Colorado, the blizzard of 1997 is an example of National Weather Service weather warnings going unheeded by many. Several deaths occurred, due to exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning, and overexertion.

Another, more recent example of severe winter weather occurred in March of 2003 across the eastern foothills, adjacent plains and mountains. Snowfall amounts ranged from 80 to 110 inches, along with high winds in some areas. The Denver metro area averaged nearly three feet of snow. The storm was well forecast, and people, for the most part, heeded the warnings, so casualties and impacts were mitigated.

Before winter weather threatens this season, you should prepare a winter safety kit for your vehicle. When planning travel, check the latest weather forecasts. A valuable companion when heading out is a battery powered All-Hazards NOAA Weather Radio, the "Voice of the National Weather Service." It provides you with the latest weather conditions and forecasts. You can pick one up at your local electronics or department store.

Finally, if you need information on winter weather safety, winter weather safety brochures, or All-Hazards NOAA Weather Radio, visit the Web site of the National Weather Service office responsible for your area - in the case of Pagosa country, the Grand Junction site at www.weather.gov.gjt or the Pueblo site at www.weather.gov.pub.

 

SJMA seeks approval of board candidates

The San Juan Mountains Association seeks membership approval of the following candidates to serve as directors on the SJMA board: Tim Maher (second year of second two-year term); Richard Robinson and Kent Short (first year of second two-year term); William J. Warren and Nancy A. McGill (second year of first two-year term); and Bob Meyer (first year of first two-year term). Directors may serve two consecutive two-year terms.

For additional information or to vote for these candidates, call (970) 385-1312 or e-mail sbryson@hughes.net.

Deadline is Dec. 30.

For more information on SJMA, visit the Web site, www.sjma.org.

 

Navajo State Park cabins available for holidays

Navajo State Park's popular cabins are a wonderful place to be in the winter.

Enjoy the beauty of the park and all its peace and serenity while hiking, boating or wildlife watching. Then return to the warmth and comfort of a heated two-bedroom cabin providing hot showers and a modern kitchen, with a full-sized oven to cook that turkey. There's even a fire circle and picnic table outside for a cozy evening under the brilliant starts.

Deer, elk, jack rabbits, geese, river otters and foxes are prolific this time of year. Don't forget your camera.

For reservations, visit www.parks.state.co.us or call (800) 678-2267 or (303) 470-1144. For more information, or if you decide to come too late to make reservations at least three days ahead, call the park office at (970) 883-2208.

And don't forget the park for New Year's. No loud crowds or commercialism at Navajo. Just a peaceful, beautiful place to welcome the New Year.

 

 Catch and Release

Fade to white ... then, to night

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

The scenes are linked together like the loose stitching of a knockoff designer dress shirt.

They come to me in monochrome.

I'm walking along the river. The sky is heavy black; there are no stars and the current moves reluctantly under this fresh burden of winter. It speaks in murmured half tones. The cautious whispers of conspirators.

The shoreline is sculpted in cobble-studded ebony and is swathed in intermittent undulating patches of white - white ice, white snow. In-stream boulders are shrouded with the stuff, a dusting of white powder coats their tops, ice hangs precariously from their shoulders and dips into the current like the sagging grocery bags of elderly shoppers. I leave the river and am enveloped, momentarily, in black.

White.

Comfort food and seven o'clock, and my will to beat back the blackness drives me into a cafe for a green chile cheeseburger. The moment is polychrome but the waitress is white - white hair and white skin, skin the color and texture of heavy cream. Her hair is pinned up, but one strand falls, and as it does so, it curves in a gentle arc below her eye and drifts across her cheek like a slender crescent moon.

White.

When I ask for a menu, she answers in one of the most succinct expressions of the affirmative I have ever heard. She does not say "yeah;" she does not say "sure." She says "yes." And when she does, she enunciates that one syllable perfectly, hits the sound of each letter with such razor like clarity, that on the final "s" I exit the cafe on tenuous strands of memory.

White.

I am at the base of Mount Sinai. It is February, the summit is dusted in powder, it is dusk and I am not yet 21. I've arrived much later in the day than anticipated and my options are few. Sleep in the monastery at the base of the mountain and wait for dawn, or push for the summit in the evening twilight. As I approach the monastery, they are closing the gates, but I made my choice long ago. I choose to sleep on the mountain and set off for the summit.

By chance, I have become the unofficial guide for a couple from Singapore who are on holiday for two weeks in Egypt and want to inject a little adventure into their Near East sojourn. We met in a shared taxi en-route to the mountain, they with plans to sleep in the monastery, me with plans to sleep on the mountain. I convince them of the merits of the climb, of sleeping outdoors, and when they finally agree to join me on my foolhardy evening climb, they both say, "yes," just like the girl in the cafe. The sinuous hiss of the final letter in their response propels us up the trail toward the summit.

As we begin, twilight falls like a blacksmith's hammer and when darkness arrives it rings with finality, like an anvil and the beating of cold steel. I strap on a headlamp. They have brought nothing of the sort. I lead our trio through scrub brush and huge slabs of Pleistocene-cloven red rock, and as we make the approach I miss a critical turn. We are on a trail but not the right trail, and when night comes we have not yet started up the mountain.

We continue. The terrain changes. We have climbed out of the desert bottom and instead of gentle switchbacks, soon find ourselves scaling the flank of the mountain on a series of rough-cut stone steps that go straight up and disappear in the night.

Black.

It takes only a few steps up the mountainside staircase to know I've made a mistake. At some point in the distant past, a monk from the monastery below carved these steps into the mountainside as an act of penance. According to the guidebooks, his grueling, step-by-step route is one of two ways to the top, but not the route of choice in the dark. But we continue.

As we gain elevation, the steps become covered in white - ice. It is 1992 and one of the fiercest winters the region has seen in decades. Snow falls on Jerusalem and Mount Sinai juts out of the desert like a slab of dry ice. We plod up the mountain, and the footing is precarious, the exposure severe, but my sturdy boots stick to ice and stone, my fingers grab handholds and my headlamp lights the way. I take three steps, turn, and illuminate the path for my companions. They are climbing in tennis shoes and light cotton jackets. They curse me the entire way, but I have the only light, and it is either up with the light, or down in the dark. They choose the light.

The going is murderous, and I imagine our progress is as tedious as that of leather skinned monk wailing away on the mountain, one step at a time, with primitive tools. We continue climbing over the ice covered stairs and through punishing cold until well past midnight, bodies drenched in sweat. The temperature plummets. I pull on a hat and gloves and exhale in great clouds of white. My breaths rolls like sea fog in the beam of the headlamp. We continue - three steps, wait, three steps, wait. We move herky-jerky fashion like a disjointed Chinese carnival dragon.

Finally, at around two in the morning, we clear the penitent's path, and the trail spiderwebs, disappearing in a maze of boulders and rubble. We sense the summit is near, but we are tired and cold and decide to hunker down until dawn to make the final push. We take shelter under the leeward flank of a massive red slab and bed down on a rock bench with enough room for three. I pull a mummy bag out of my pack, yank off my boots and dive in. All is warm and cozy inside. From their packs they extract two cheap cotton sleeping bags, and spend the next three hours shivering uncontrollably.

By morning we are piled like puppies and luckily the summit and the sun are just moments away. By mid-morning they are thawed and fine and ready to descend. Before we depart, they give all their camping gear to the local Bedouin in exchange for a camel ride down the mountain. They vow never to sleep outside again.

Black.

I am outside wandering the riverbank, moving aimlessly upriver. It is black, the darkness absolute, both viscous and crystalline, impenetrable, like frozen molasses, but I am thinking of white.

Minor White photographed his polychromatic world in the spectrum of muted half tones trapped between the polar opposites on the monochromatic spectrum. Black and white.

And grey.

The sound of snow pounding on the metal roof drives me out of bed. I am at the front door and I turn the knob and pull. The dog shoots between my legs, scurries out the entryway and cuts a hard left onto the porch and disappears in the night. The light from the kitchen casts a faint glow, like brushed stainless steel, but it is impotent, it cannot beat back the December blackness, so I enter.

As I look for the dog, I exhale, and my breath is poignant against the backdrop of the single digit night. And as clouds of vapor drift beyond the porch to the black world beyond, they move in hues of gunmetal grey. Grey and white.

White snowflakes fall. It's like I'm breathing from my mouth through a wet washcloth. The dog returns. I close the door, then sit on the couch. I stare. Four blank white walls.

Someone once told me that Georgia O'Keefe would sit for hours in a stark white room to better see the color outside. I am not Georgia O'Keefe. The winter world is not polychrome. It is white. Inside and out. And black.

Four white walls inside and monochromatic chaos outside. And in between is me, in muted grey half tones, listening to the snow beat down the roof. White.

Black.

I am approaching the longest blackness of the season.

Solstice.

Fade to white.

Grey.

Black.

Night.

The longest night.

 

High Country Reflections

Camping and fishing in Colorado's moose country

By Chuck McGuire

SUN Columnist

I pulled into the quaint and secluded RV park under ominous overcast skies. The midday shower had finally diminished to a light sprinkle, but the warmth emanating from the defroster still brought comfort against the dank outside air. Mud puddles dotted the park's primitive interior roads, and the adjoining pine forest appeared dark and damp. The setting seemed just right — perfect for a little solitude in moose country.

It was August in north-central Colorado, but on the western flanks of the Never Summer Range, one might have thought it spring or early autumn. A cold front advanced from the northwest, pushing a line of showers ahead of it, and I was anxious to sit them out in the comparative luxury of our cozy travel trailer.

Jackie and I left the trailer at the park after spending a night there, the weekend before. We'd discovered the place while searching the countryside for new haunts amid Colorado's largest moose herd. By chance, the area's Forest Service campgrounds were full, and the modest little-known alternative commanded reasonable rates in relative isolation. Knowing I'd return the following Thursday, the park owner charged only $2 a day to leave the trailer on site.

Upon my arrival, I planned to complete an unfinished writing assignment and squeeze in a little trout fishing in a region where wild moose encounters are not uncommon. Fronting the headwaters of the Illinois River, the park and surrounding country offer uncrowded fishing in the same general vicinity where, nearly two decades earlier, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) established the state's first self-sustaining population of Shiras moose.

While I hadn't actually seen a moose in the park itself, a few tracks around the trailer revealed recent visits by the large ungulates, and aside from the writing and fishing, I hoped to glimpse one or two during my short stay. As it turned out, I wasn't disappointed.

With the trailer already set, I had only to carry in groceries and laptop, open the blinds and turn on some heat. In a matter of minutes, as I sat down to work, I heard a distinct clomp, clomp immediately outside the window over the sofa. I turned, and there, not 10 feet from the coach, stood a mature bull moose, probably six feet at the shoulder and sporting huge sprawling antlers.

Even with a thin wall between us, I felt an air of intimidation at such close range. I guessed the imposing black figure at more than a thousand pounds, with an enormous body that seemed too large for his long spindly legs. His broad muzzle, with a pronounced overhanging snout, appeared disproportionate to the size of his head, and his wide palmate rack stretched a good five feet.

He stood for what seemed an inordinate length of time, then casually strolled into the woods and eventually, out of sight. As he sauntered off, I peered through every window in search of others, but the magnificent stag apparently wandered alone.

While the bull disappeared among the shadows of the forest, I quickly thought of a similar encounter Jackie and I experienced in the spring of the previous year. We were camped at a KOA near Gould, Colo., where the immediate weather forecast called for nighttime temperatures well below freezing. As a precaution against potential plumbing problems, I drained and disconnected the external water line before turning in for the evening.

The next morning I stepped out to reconnect the system when, at once, I heard a peculiar deep-throated groan. The KOA also lay within forest and, as I glanced over my shoulder, I saw only trees. But, when the resonant bellow came again, I looked a bit closer and there he was - a gangly black form amid the lodgepole pines, perhaps 50 feet away.

That animal too, stood tall with broad antlers, all the while glaring resolutely in my direction. I remember marveling at his size, yet wondering of his temperament, with only the space beneath the trailer offering viable shelter, should he charge.

The bull didn't charge that day, but as the largest wild animals in Colorado, moose are unpredictable. With few natural enemies in the wild, they don't seem especially fearful of humans, and will typically hold their ground when approached.

A cow with calves will fiercely defend her young and when threatened, can be among the most dangerous creatures in North America. During the autumn rut (September and October), a bull may attack anyone or anything invading his territory, and some have actually commandeered pastures or haystacks, where domestic livestock have been injured or killed in apparent territorial disputes.

I remember one September afternoon when Ed Engle and I fished the north fork of the North Platte River. Working our way upstream, we hopscotched from pool to pool in typical fashion. At one point, Ed passed me by and disappeared around a large clump of willows. Moments later, I walked from the river and around the willows, only to find him standing motionless, his face without expression and somewhat pale.

I asked, "What's the matter, Ed?"

"I just walked around those bushes and came face to face with a huge bull moose," he said.

"Really, where'd he go?" I asked.

"I don't know," he replied. "He stood there watching me, as I slowly waded to the far side of the river, then just walked off."

Ed stands 6 feet 4 inches tall, and described the beast as "looking down upon him."

Of course, coming "face to face" with a wild moose was not always possible in Colorado. As recent as 1950, only an occasional straggler was found south of Wyoming, and biologists believe most of them were taken by poachers before self-sustaining populations were ever established.

Eventually though, as regional wildlife regulations became more favorable, a viable population developed in the mountains east of Salt Lake City, and in March, 1978, the DOW brought 12 of them to the headwaters of the Illinois River near Rocky Mountain National Park. The following year, 12 more were brought in from Wyoming, and in 1987, another dozen were released along the Laramie River near the Rawah Wilderness.

In the early 1990s, a hundred moose were transferred from Wyoming, Utah, and North Park to the headwaters of the Rio Grande near Creede, and in January 2005, a cow and two bulls were released atop the Grand Mesa, with the goal of establishing a third self-sustaining herd there.

Today, the state's moose population is doing well, with an estimated 1,200 animals roaming the high-country. Ranchers have few complaints regarding crop damage or livestock competition, and a limited hunting season has been established in areas of north-central Colorado.

But all is not roses.

Because of their docile demeanor, moose are easily victimized by poachers and careless hunters, who account for 15 percent of their annual mortality. Further, DOW research shows that Colorado residents kill as many moose by accident as nonresidents, and seasoned sportsmen shoot as many as those with little, or no hunting experience.

And, the news that two legally harvested bull moose recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease raises concern. Added to the one diagnosed in 2005, three cases are now confirmed in a statewide herd of about 1,200 animals. Obviously, so few cases in a herd of such size can hardly be considered endemic, but until September of last year, the disease had never been detected in free-ranging moose.

As man continually attempts to "manage" wildlife and its habitat, problems will invariably arise. However, the introduction of Shiras moose to the mountains of Colorado appears to have been a resounding success.

I know I've seen them here, many times.

 

Letters

Better

Dear Editor:

Yesterday, I got a reminder of how wonderful it is to live in a small town and, in particular, in Pagosa Springs.

A sudden flat tire left me walking away from my van. Moments later, two seasoned La Plata Electric employees, "Red" and John (Truck 144) stopped and changed the flat tire to the emergency "donut," so that I could get the flat repaired immediately at the family-owned auto center where I bought my new snow tires a month ago.

I was so happy I had chosen to buy locally rather than at "big box" Durango or on the Internet. The kindness I encountered at every stage of the process was what I have come to associate with Pagosa people.

Having just returned from two years in a frenetic Midwestern metropolis, I fall in love with Pagosa more every day. Sometimes, small is better - much better.

Elizabeth Coleman

 Pinewood to go

Dear Editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to bring everyone up to date on the fate of the Pinewood Inn. After much difficulty, I have been granted a demolition permit, and shortly, the old place will become history.

Take heart, however, for all is not lost. Plans are well underway for a new and exciting business to be built on the site. I intend to open the world's first and only nose hair barber shop. It will be called "The Empty Nostril," and it will feature seven custom-designed chairs unique to the fledgling nose hair barbering industry.

Currently, we are looking for employees to be trained at the Nose Hair Barber College of America, located appropriately in Boulder. Hey, don't knock 'em. The Clippers nearly beat the Buffs in football this year. Once a candidate is certified, he will be put to work at "The Empty Nostril." Note: The owner (me) was certified a number of years ago.

It is my sincere hope that "The Empty Nostril" in Pagosa will be the first shop in a large nationwide chain. I can foresee several hundred "Empty Nostrils" in California alone. To further that end, I am looking for energetic entrepreneurs who are interested in opening their own shop. For a small franchise fee, I will be more than happy to set each and every one of them up. Just come on by the Pinewood with some cash, and you're on your way to success. And always remember our motto: "An Empty nostril leads to an open mind."

With tongue firmly in nose, I am,

Charles Craig

 Watching bubbles

Dear Editor:

The picture of our economy displayed statistically in your last week's editorial was headlined "Paint another picture." You closed with three challenging questions: "What is the picture? What lies ahead? And how can we paint a larger picture?"

It seems to me we have settled on a way to answer those questions. Willy Nelson has vocalized it for us in a sad song titled, "Watching the bubbles in my beer" - or, to put it another way, "the free market will decide" or, even better, "development will bring better times."

You quote two statistics from the Region 9 Economic Development District's data that characterize the picture we have now. 1) 63 percent of local "direct-based jobs" relate to tourism; and 2) 42 percent of families in the county could not afford to buy a median-priced home at $181,000.

I believe the town has good management, and the county management is getting better all the time. I don't see the answer to your questions resting in the lap of our management teams. Mangers manage. I'd suggest that the "watching the bubbles in my beer" approach will not get us to the point of determining what it is we want, and planning how to go about getting it.

Something's missing in our community planning. I'd call it Part D, the donut hole in the plan, the part where we have to pay for what's not there. I'd propose taking a second look at community plans to determine what people resources we have that might help us decide what we want and work up a plan to get it.

Then put the beer away and go get it.

Or, to put it another way, "paint another picture."

Michael J. Greene

 New cross

Dear Editor:

We have a new cross exhibited this season in Aspen Springs, diagonally across from Mountain Christian Fellowship. It is on the south side on U.S. 160. John and Cynthia Lindsay live in Unit Four.

It looks as though it is suspended above the trees and mountain, and is glorious.

What a wonderful area to live in where we have the freedom to display these symbols.

Cindy Gustafson

 Respect and credit

Dear Editor:

As a member of the Upper San Juan Search and Rescue, I normally envision myself being a part of the rescue, and not one of the folks being rescued. So, I wanted to add a few words to the article written last week by the staff of The SUN.

Immediately after Les' fall, I'd thought that both my friends, Les and Terry, had fallen to their death. I imagined that John, as we'd planned, had already descended to an elevation too low for him to hear my screams. I struggled with how I'd handle the difficult possibilities which may lie ahead. How would I explain the accident to their families?

Miraculously, I didn't have to communicate those fears to their loved ones. But I still think about it. Occasionally, I can still hear the screams.

I give respect and credit to Dr. John Sanders and Terry Baker for continuing the great job of belaying and carrying Les Shepard down. After we'd decided that I should go down the mountain alone, leaving them was much more difficult than I've previously shared with anyone. John and Terry truly had the hard rescue job and Les owes his survival to them. There are many reasons that I climb with John and Terry, and their actions that day embody them.

My partners at USJSAR did a remarkable job that night. There are no words to describe how I felt when I saw the headlamps of Team One heading up that dark, cold and lonely trail towards Toner Mountain.

I am proud to be a part of USJSAR and grateful to be one whom received their service.

Sincerely,

Tim Hewett

 Avalanches

Dear Editor:

I enjoyed the article, "Be prepared in the high country." However, no mention was made of avalanches. Your readers should be aware that the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC, part of the Colorado Geological Survey) provides twice daily weather and avalanche hazard forecasts for the Colorado Mountains, including our end of the San Juans. The latest information can be found by calling 247-8187 (a local call to Durango) or by going to the Center's Web page, www.geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.

In addition, recommended avalanche rescue gear and information about avalanche safety education can be found at our local outdoor store.

Thank you,

Mark Mueller

CAIC/CDOT avalanche forecaster

 Apologize

Dear Editor:

You owe a huge apology to a family in Pagosa.

James Robinson wrote an ugly article on the neglect of a certain person's grave.

He should have gotten his facts correct, as all he has done is rub salt in a very open wound. This family is upset and devastated; in fact, so am I. Perhaps if he'd lived here longer he'd realize there is only so much you can do (or not) with a backhoe in inclement weather on terrain like that. They are at a standstill.

I have never once had a conversation with my friend without him talking about "Dad." They are not even celebrating Christmas this year, because it wouldn't be the same without him.

My services have already been retained to landscape the area next spring. We would appreciate it if he didn't leave his litter there.

Jeanie Riley

 

Preview Calendar

Today

Blood drive

Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St., 1-6 p.m.

Dec 23

Christmas concert

Elation Center for the Arts presents "A Classic Christmas," 6 p.m. at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse.

The gala, second annual family concert features many of Pagosa's top entertainers. Children's admission is free, adult tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Advance tickets available online at elationarts.org or at WolfTracks. Call 731-3117 for more information.

Dec. 24

Candlelight service

There will be a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 6 p.m. at Centerpoint Church, U.S. 160 at Cornerstone Drive. There will be a gift bag for each child at the service.

Dec. 27

Preschool Story Club

Sisson Library, 10 a.m. "Let it Snow!" (School-age brothers and sisters welcome today).

Dec. 31

New Year's Eve dance

The community center at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. is hosting this end-of-the-year event with John Graves & Company providing a variety of live dance music. The adult party starts at 9 p.m. and runs to 12:12 a.m. Doors open at 8:30. Advance tickets are $20 per person (until 5 p.m. Fri. Dec. 29) and can be purchased at WolfTracks and the community center. Tickets at the door are $25. Hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and beverages and desserts will be provided. A cash bar with beer, wine and champagne will be available. Purchase your ticket now and reserve a table for eight or 10 people. Call 264-4152.

Jan. 7

Pagosa Singles

Pagosa Singles (PALS) will meet for "an after New Year's" party at 3 p.m. at Al's home. Please bring an appetizer to share, your own drinks and a wrapped white elephant gift. Call 731-9801 to R.S.V.P. and for directions. All singles 40-plus are welcome to attend.

 

   Community News

Christmas Eve at Community United Methodist Church

In addition to regular morning worship services at 8:15 and 11 a.m., Community United Methodist Church is offering two opportunities for Christmas Eve celebration.

At 7 p.m. children and youth are invited to take part in the dramatic telling of the Christmas story. All children who attend will be able to wear a costume and be part of the story. No advance preparation is required, and a variety of costumes are available. Costuming will begin at 6:30 p.m.

A traditional candlelight service will be held at 9 p.m. This will be a time for music, scripture and worship, celebrating the birth of the Christ child.

CUMC youth and Family Fellowship groups are meeting at the church for a caroling party on Thursday, Dec. 21, at 5:30 p.m. They will be singing to the residents of Pine Ridge and home-bound members of our church. Following the caroling, they will return to the church for snacks and fellowship. Anyone wishing to join them is welcome.

For further information on any of these activities, call the church at 264-5508.

 

Special UU service planned for Christmas Eve

On Dec. 24, Christmas Eve day, The Pagosah Unitarian Universalist Fellowship will hold a very special service wherein those attending are the service.

It will be a jolly time of sharing good cheer, singing carols and joining in Pagosa UU's own lighting of the Christmas tree ceremony.

As you turn on a tree light, you are invited to tell a brief story of someone who made a difference in your life.

Please bring some finger food (coffee cake, cookies, etc.) to share during the festivities at our Christmas Coffee House if you wish.

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

 

Four Corners Center to hold candlelight service

By Denise Rue-Pastin

Special to The PREVIEW

The Four Corners Center for Spiritual Living (based on New Thought principle of Science of Mind) is pleased to welcome Rev. Jay Blakeney as the guest speaker for the Sunday, Dec. 24, candlelight service.

The service, located at 97 W. North Street in Bayfield, begins at 11 a.m. All are welcome; call 884-4889 for carpooling information.

Reverend Jay's Christmas Eve message, "The Magic of Christmas," will include plenty of music and joy to the world. He has been a licensed practitioner at Mile High Church in Denver for the past five years. In May 2006, he received his master's degree in consciousness studies from Holmes Institute. Blakeney has served on the Mile High Church board of trustees and the Colorado Season for Nonviolence for several years.

 

ECA presents 'A Classic Christmas'

Elation Center for the Arts presents "A Classic Christmas," 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse.

A homegrown variety show, "A Classic Christmas" showcases local talent in a festive program of musical fun for the entire family; a pleasing mix of classical instrumental music and traditional Christmas carols.

John Graves will guest star with comedienne Sally Yates, with Matthew Brunson as emcee. Pianist Sue Anderson will accompany some of the performers. Vitality and energy will abound when some of Pagosa's finest musical talent take the stage.

The program

Classical instrumentals:

- Bob Nordmann - saxophone solos, "Romance" and "Aria."

- Joy Redmon - flute solo, "Minuet Dance of the Blessed Spirits."

- D'Ann Artis - "Christmas Composition on French Horn."

- The Pagosa Peak Woodwind Trio: Joy Redmon (flute), Tim Bristow, (clarinet) and Valley Lowrance (bassoon) - "The Rigaudon & Novelette" and traditional Polish and Puerto Rican Christmas melodies.

Christmas carols

- Matthew and Tiffany Brunson - "What Child is This?"

- Jessica Espinosa - "Feliz Navidad" and "Silent Night."

- The Other Side of the Mountain Singers: Natalie Tyson, Toni Tuller, Nancy Smith and Pat French - "Over the River and Through the Wood," "CHRISTmas," and "Christmas Chopsticks."

- Debbie Tucker - "Santa Baby," "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

- Sue Diffee - "When a Child Is Born"

- D'Ann Artis and Sue Diffee - "O Holy Night"

- Jeannie Dold - "Walking in the Winter Wonderland," "Breath of Heaven" and "I'll be Home for Christmas."

- The Tuller Family Band - medley: "Good Christian Men Rejoice, "I Saw Three Ships," "Good King Wenceslas," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "Patapan."

- Four the Good Times: Sue Martin, Paula McFaddin, Sharon Porter and Julie Gillentine - "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Coventry Carol."

The Christmas Cheer Singers and The Santa and His Elves Theatrical Ensemble will round out the evening's bill.

Come celebrate the season with "A Classic Christmas."

Advance discount tickets, for $8, are available through elationarts.org and at WolfTracks. Tickets at the door are $10 for adults. Children are free.

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

Please note, this concert begins at 6 p.m. to accommodate families with children. Children with parents attend at no charge.

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

ECA offers life enrichment programs focused on preserving our cultural heritage. Proceeds from this concert help support these programs. ECA's community concerts have been upgraded with professional sound, stage and lighting. For more information, log on to elationarts.org or call 731-3117.

 

New floor for New Year's Eve

By Siri Schuchardt

Special to The PREVIEW

This New Year's Eve at the Pagosa Springs Community Center, partygoers will be dancing on 153 square feet of additional dance floor, thanks to the generous donations of members of the community center's Line Dance Club.

The following members generously donated floor panels: Jack and Diana Litt - eight panels; Harris and Karen Bynum - two panels; Bev and Ed Chester - one panel; Gerry and Dick Potticary - one panel; Peggy and Dick Carrai - one panel; Elaine and Don Lundergan - one panel; Nancy Grovhoug - one panel, and John and Teri Hoehn - one panel. The 17th panel was purchased by the community center with proceeds from the dance program. The new flooring pieces will add three feet to the length and width of the dance floor to bring it up to a 27 feet square for everyone's dancing pleasure. These gifts are greatly appreciated.

The New Year's Eve dance will take place from 9 p.m. to 12:12 a.m. at the center. Doors will open at 8:30, with live music starting promptly at 9. This is your big opportunity to "dress to the nines" or simply "Pagosa style," and have a wonderful night out on the town.

The cost is $20 per person advance and $25 per person at the door, and the price of admission includes a variety of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, desserts, and coffee. Beer, wine, champagne will be available at $3 per glass and soft drinks for $1 (can with cup and ice). Tickets are now available at WolfTracks and at the community center. Advance tickets must be purchased by Friday, Dec. 29, at the close of business.

Based on the number of tickets sold last year, there could be a limited number of tickets available at the door, so you are encouraged to purchase tickets by Dec. 29. Complete tables for eight or 10 can be reserved in advance at the community center with presentation of your tickets. Back by popular demand, there will be a singles' table, so please let the staff at the community center know if you wish to be seated at that table.

The music for the evening will be provided by John Graves & Company, who provided our music last year. This band is a quartet of distinguished musicians and will play a wide variety of music. The band includes John Graves, Larry Elginer, Kim Graves, Susanna Ninichuck, and several surprise guest artists. Band members not only excel as instrumentalists but also as singers and entertainers.

Volunteers will be needed on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 30, to help set up for the big event. If you would like to help with the physical setup of tables and chairs, dance floor, and stage at 9 a.m., call Dick Carrai at 731-3083. To help with decorating the room and the tables at 10 a.m., call Pam Stokes at 731-1284. For other questions or for further information, call Mercy at the center, 264-4152, or Siri at 731-9670.

 

Local Expressions at DAC seeks artists for upcoming season

Local expressions at DAC is now accepting applications from individual artists and groups for consideration for eight exhibitions in 2007.

Both digital files and slides will be accepted.

Artists must be members of DAC and reside within 65 miles of Durango. Applications are due on or before Monday, Jan. 8. Applications are available in person at the DAC or online at durangoarts.org.

The mission of Local Expressions at DAC consists of a primary mission with three supporting goals:

- Primary mission: to improve the perception and reputation of the local artists' community.

- To provide a venue for artistic representation that offers exposure and rewards innovation, creative risk-taking and overall artistic excellence.

- To encourage tourists and visitors to come to the gallery to see and purchase local art for investment and enjoyment.

- To foster an environment that supports and inspires one another as artists, offering assistance in improving professionalism and growth in our artistic pursuits.

For questions regarding the application, contact Adel Kurtz, 884-7924. Send online applications and digital files, at recommended size of about 600 x 900, to Jessi Kingan, 769-3049, jk@creativeconnectionco.com. Mail or drop off application with five to 10 slides to Local Expressions at DAC, 802 E. Second Ave., Durango, CO 81301.

 

Prepare your entries for annual Pagosa photo show

The 19th annual Pagosa Springs Arts Council Photography Contest will again be held at Moonlight Books.

Opening reception is 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3. The exhibit is on display Feb. 3-24.

The contest is open to all amateur and professional photographers.

Entries must not have been previously exhibited in Archuleta County; display in the artist's home or office is acceptable.

Each exhibitor may submit a total of three entries in either black and white or color, but only two entries in any one category. Each photo must be at least 5x7 (unmatted/unmounted) and the total circumference of the matted/mounted/framed photo may not exceed 85 inches.

All photos must be ready to hang - matted/mounted or framed.

Framed photos must have screweyes and wire hanger only. Matted and/or mounted photos need plastic stick-on hangers that are available from local framers and at Moonlight Books. There will be a $4 entry fee per photograph.

Entries will be accepted at Moonlight Books until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31.

All photos must remain on display for the duration of the exhibit.

If photo is for sale, a 25-percent commission will be deducted at the time of the sale by PSAC. Please take this into consideration when pricing your photo.

Categories: Domestic Animals; Architecture; Autumn Scenic; General Landscape; Patterns/Textures; Sports; Flora; People; Up Close; Winter Scenic; Black and White; Wild Animals; Sunrise/Sunset; Open (does not fit into any other category); Special Techniques (color or black and white) - any type of manipulation, including computer, belongs in this category.

Entries must be picked up Saturday, Feb. 24, or Monday, Feb. 26, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., not before. After Wednesday, Feb. 28, any remaining photos will be donated to the Arts Council for fund-raising purposes.

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council and Moonlight Books will not be responsible for loss or damage of any photographs entered in the contest, although care will be taken with your entries.

Prizes: first-, second- and third-place ribbons will be awarded in each category, as well as Best of Show, and People's Choice. Honorable Mention ribbons will also be awarded at the judge's discretion.

Attend the opening reception and vote for the People's Choice Award. Watch for information about the judge's seminar.

 

'Hold It!' continues at Shy Rabbit

By Denise Coffee

Special to The PREVIEW

"Hold It!", an exhibition of contemporary containers, continues at Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts through the holidays with regular gallery hours.

Shy Rabbit will remain open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. through show closing on Jan. 20. Private viewings are also available. Please call 731-2766 to schedule an appointment.

This elegant and highly creative exhibition features six emerging and mid-career artists from Colorado and New Mexico working in various and, in some cases, unconventional mediums.

Participating artists were asked to think "outside of the box" by creating their own personal interpretations of containers or vessels. A wide range of forms and materials are on display as a result.

A few of the artists invited to participate in "Hold it!" had existing works that fit the show theme. Several others created new work inspired by the show title and the freedom they were allowed in the process.

Artists were provided with three to four months in which to complete new work, and had no restrictions other than a size range and the number of finished works required. The process was a very organic one that resulted in the creation of work that is natural and unforced.

The six featured artists are: Chad Haspels, Colo., wood; Sarah Hewitt, N.M., fiber; Clarissa Hudson, Colo., fiber; Mary Ellen Long, Colo., mixed media; Chris Richter, N.M., ceramics; and Shan Wells, Colo., mixed media.

Visit http://shyrabbit.blogspot.com or e-mail shyrabbit01@aol.com. for more information on Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts shows, events and programs.

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.

 

Wish Trees and Wish Wreathes

By Annette Foor

Special to The PREVIEW

Each holiday season, businesses around town support the local humane society by allowing us to displaying either a Wish Tree or Wish Wreath decorated with ornaments with pictures of past shelter animals, each ornament indicating a certain item needed at the shelter.

All you need to do is chose an ornament(s) and purchase the item or write a check for that item and drop it off at either the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, Citizens Bank uptown or the Humane Society Thrift Store. Donations can also be mailed to Humane Society of Pagosa Springs (HSPS), PO Box 2230, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

This season is a special time for most and this program has been very successful. We appreciate the support we receive from the community and holiday visitors.

If you would like to help the homeless cats and dogs in the area, you can find a tree or wreath at the following locations: Pagosa Area Chamber of Commerce, First Southwest Bank, Bank of Colorado, Switchback, Bank of the San Juans, Ponderosa — Do-it-Best, Citizens Bank-downtown, Citizens Bank—uptown, Pagosa Veterinary Clinic, Aspen Tree Veterinary Clinic, Elk Park Animal Hospital, Circle T—Ace Hardware, Terry's Ace Home Center, Choke Cherry Tree, San Juan Veterinary Hospital, Jessie's Elves and Gifts, and the Humane Society Thrift Store.

For more information, call 264-5549.

We would also like to thank everyone for their generosity and support throughout the year. Happy holidays!

 

Community Center News

Merry Christmas, get ready for New Year's Eve dance

By Mercy Korsgren

PREVIEW Columnist

Merry Christmas from all of us!

This holiday season brings joy and happiness to most of us; let us remember the true meaning of the season - love, peace, generosity, kindness, forgiveness and lots of fun with family, as well as with friends.

A friend of mine e-mailed the following information and I would like to share this with all our readers.

"According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December. Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to every historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, every single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl. We should've known ... only women would be able to drag one big fat man in a red velvet suit all around the world in one night and not get lost."

Enjoy the holidays!

John Graves & Company at New Year's Eve dance

John, Larry Elginer, Susanna Ninichuck and John's son, Kim Graves, will provide a wide variety of live dance music during the New Year's Eve dance at the center 9 p.m.-12:12 a.m. Dec. 31.

Doors will open at 8:30 p.m. Specially prepared hot and cold hors d'oeuvres will definitely satisfy everyone's gastronomic cravings. Dessert, like petit fours - miniature layer cakes dipped in chocolate - are back just for this special event. Hot and cold beverages, as well as a cash bar with wine, beer and champagne, will also be available. Half a dozen awesome door prizes will be given away during the night. This event promises an evening full of fun, laughter, camaraderie and good food.

Tickets are $20 per person in advance (until 5 p.m. Fri. Dec. 29) and $25 at the door. Advance tickets are available at WolfTracks and at the community center. Purchase your tickets now, and save. Remember, the center will be closed Saturday and Sunday before the dance. Also, purchasing tickets ahead entitles one to reserve tables for eight or 10 people - a good opportunity to be with family and friends. By request, we have designated tables for singles. Call the center, 264-4152.

Line dancing

Starting Monday, Jan. 15 couples will meet at 9 a.m. for line dancing. Gerry will teach two-step and waltz. She also says, "No knowledge or experience necessary, just a sense of humor."

Beginning line dance for all others continues at 10; intermediate and advanced follows at 10:30. The group stresses exercise, having fun and meeting new people. This is a free program and thanks go to Gerry Potticary for volunteering and sharing her talent and time. For more information about this program, call Gerry at 731-9734.

Yoga session

This free program is open to all. Treat yourself to an hour of breathing, stretching and relaxation, especially during this time of the year. With all the stress from the holiday season's activities, yoga is a must.

The group meets 10-11:30 a.m. every Tuesday morning with our volunteer leader, Addie Greer. Be sure to bring a mat or thick towel if you plan to join in this healthy, body and mind program.

Computer lab news

A new computer system donated by our friend Richard Irland will soon be available to all. Thank you Richard, for your kind donation and support for our computer lab. We greatly appreciate having a brand new unit, which is much needed by the public. Please thank Richard when you see him.

The end of the year is a perfect time to assess your computing capabilities. Take a close look at how you protect yourself and your computer from external threats. Do you have security plans in place and, more importantly, do you follow them? Stop by the center for a free checklist which will help you to know what you should be doing.

After the beginning of the new year, two new computer classes will be offered. One, which will cover word processing, will focus on copying and pasting, formatting, language and grammar tools. The other class will offer an in-depth look at spreadsheet software - specifically formatting, printing address labels, and automatic number calculations. If you have taken the beginning class or an equivalent and wish to be included, call the center to place your name on the list. Each class will last for two sessions of two hours each. Watch here for class dates and times.

eBay class

Every first and third Wednesday of the each month, 5:30-7 p.m., Ben Bailey volunteers to teach those interested in selling and buying on the Internet. This is a free program, offered to the public by the center.

New programs in 2007

Jody Conwell and Treva Wheeless are interested in volunteering and providing quilting and jewelry-making classes, starting in January. Watch this column for details. Also, several people requested an aerobics exercise program. We are looking for volunteers to lead this free program. The center will provide the music player and CDs/DVDs. If you are interested, call Mercy at 264-4152, Ext. 22.

Center's hours

The community center's winter hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m; Saturday, 10 to 4. The center will be closed Dec. 23 and 30 for the holidays.

Activities this week

Today - Hoopsters basketball for exercise, 8-9 a.m.; Teen Center open, 3:30-6:30 p.m.; TOPS Christmas party, 7-10 p.m.;

Dec. 22 - Senior Walk, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; open basketball, noon-1:15 p.m.; Bridge-4-Fun, 12:30-4 p.m.; Teen Center open, 3:30-5 p.m.; basketball practice with Andy, 5-8 p.m.;

Dec. 23 - Center closed.

Dec. 24 - High Roads Baptist Church service, 6-8 p.m.; Grace EV Free Church meets at the high school auditorium this Sunday only.

Dec. 25 - Center closed. Merry Christmas!

Dec. 26 - Hoopsters basketball for exercise, 8-9 a.m.; yoga, 10:30-11:30 a.m.; senior walk, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; Teen Center open, 3:30-6:30 p.m.; Pagosa Springs Arts Council board meeting, 5-7 p.m.;

Dec. 27 - Aikido class, 1-3 p.m.; Teen Center open, 3:30-6:30 p.m.; Weight Watchers, 4:45-6:45 p.m.;

Dec. 28 - Hoopsters basketball for exercise, 8-9 a.m.; legal deposition, 9 a.m.- noon; Teen Center open, 3:30-6:30 p.m.; Town of Pagosa Springs Tourism Board meeting, 4-6 p.m.

All community center-sponsored programs and classes are free; call 264-4152 for more information. Also, call the center for your space needs; we have small, medium and large rooms available for meetings, parties and any other kind of gathering.

 

Senior News

How to talk to your doctor

By Jeni Wiskofske

SUN Columnist

How do you talk to your doctor?

Does he or she do all the talking while you do all the listening? Are you afraid to ask questions? Do you leave the office feeling like you just sat through a foreign language class?

Your relationship with your doctor, including how well you talk with each other, affects your care. A good relationship - where you and your doctor share information and work together to make the best decisions about your health - will result in the best care. You'll also feel more confident in your doctor and the quality of care you're getting. Here are some ways to make talking to your doctor more effective: Be Prepared. Doctors are busy people and their offices are often abuzz with activity, like ringing telephones and crowded waiting rooms. When you actually see your doctor, your visit probably won't last more than 15 minutes. The best way to make the most of your limited time is to come to your appointment prepared:

- Write down all the questions you have for the doctor in advance and bring a pen and paper to jot down answers and take notes.

- Make and bring a list of symptoms if you're not feeling well. You might want to research your condition at the library or on the Internet if you're visiting your doctor for a specific problem or illness. Learning some related medical terms (see online course below) and common treatments will make it easier to follow what the doctor is telling you.

- Bring a list of all the medicines you take. Write down the doses and how often you take them. Include vitamins and other supplements.

- Arrive early enough to fill out forms.

- Have your insurance card ready and bring your medical records or have them sent in advance if you're seeing the doctor for the first time. Also bring your health care advance directive, which outlines instructions about your care if you become unable to speak for yourself. Go over it with your doctor so that your wishes are clear.

Here are some questions to ask the doctor. You can add to the list as you come up with more questions.

Problem

- What is wrong with me? How do you know?

- What caused this problem?

Tests

- Must I have tests?

- What tests do I need and why?

- What do the tests involve?

- How do I prepare for the tests?

- When will I know the test results?

- Will my insurance cover the cost of the tests?

- Will I have to take the tests again?

Treatment

- What are my treatment choices?

- What are the benefits and risks of each treatment?

- What are the side effects?

- How good is each treatment?

- Which treatment is most common for my condition?

- What do I do if treatment fails?

Medication

- What kind of medication(s) must I take? For how long?

- What does the drug do? Will there be any side effects?

- What should I do if I have side effects?

- Can I take a generic version of the drug?

- Will the medicine interact with any I am already taking?

- Should I avoid any kind of food or activity while taking this medicine?

Follow-up

- Do I need to see a specialist?

- Should I get a second opinion?

- Do I need a follow-up visit?

Speak up. Don't be put off by big words or a doctor's impatient manner. If you don't understand what the doctor is telling you, ask him or her to explain it again. Using different words, or drawing or showing you a picture can help. Don't leave the office without understanding everything the doctor told you.

If there are issues you want to discuss that the doctor doesn't mention, raise them yourself. Doctors often are so focused on making sick people better - or so rushed - they forget to talk about important health matters like diet and weight, exercise, stress, sleep, tobacco and alcohol use, sexual practices, vaccines, and tests to find diseases. Find out what tests you might need for your age, such as a mammogram or colonoscopy, and ask your doctor about getting them. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed to bring up sensitive topics.

Don't withhold information. Speaking up also means telling your doctor everything you know about your body and health, including all your symptoms and problems. The more information you share, the better the doctor will be able to figure out what's wrong and how to treat you. Don't make the doctor guess. Be sure to mention any and all medicines, vitamins, and herbs you are taking, and anyone else you are seeing about your health, physical and mental.

Bring someone with you. Sometimes, people like to bring a friend or family member to a doctor appointment for moral support. A companion also could help you relax, remind you of questions you forgot to ask, and help you remember what the doctor said. If you need personal time with the doctor, the person can sit in the waiting room. Having someone join you is especially helpful if you feel too ill to get around easily on your own.

Follow up. If you feel nervous, rushed, or just plain overwhelmed, you might forget to ask a question, even if you wrote it down. If this happens, or if you think of a new question, call the office right away. Be patient but firm if you want to speak directly with the doctor, who might not be able to take your call at that moment. If the doctor wants you to come back for a follow up visit, be sure to set and keep the appointment.

Building a successful partnership with your doctor takes time and effort. It's not uncommon to have a frustrating doctor visit now and then. But overall, your relationship with your doctor should be positive and comfortable. You should have confidence and trust in his or her medical ability and judgment. Let your doctor know when there's a problem. If you can't resolve things together, you might need to entrust your care to someone else.

Holiday party in Arboles

The Den and Archuleta Seniors Inc. will celebrate the holidays with a holiday party in Arboles beginning at 11:30 a.m. today. The festivities will begin before lunch with a spread of appetizers such as cheese balls, crackers and other finger food graciously provided by Archuleta Seniors Inc.

After lunch, we will have a "bring a gift, get a gift" holiday gift exchange. If you would like to participate in the gift exchange, all you have to do is buy a gift, wrap it, label it with the appropriate "male," "female" or "both," so everyone knows if your gift is gender specific - then place it under the tree. After we've eaten, we will take turns visiting our lovely, decorated tree and choosing a gift. (Remember, you have to bring a gift and place it under the tree to receive one).

Santa Claus is also coming to town and making a stop in Arboles to bring a little cheer to our holiday party. And if that's not enough, we are honored to have John Graves join us following lunch to accompany sing-alongs to some of our favorite holiday songs. So, whether you are interested in the appetizers, the gifts, Santa Claus, the holiday sing-along with John Graves or just hanging out with your friends, the holiday party is guaranteed to be fun for all! It is also our "Red and Green Day," so wear your holiday colors to add to the festivity of the party.

Free monthly movie

Our movie at The Den on at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22, is "Scrooged," rated PG-13. A coldhearted TV exec (Bill Murray) is about to discover the true meaning of Christmas - the hard way. This wild, woolly spin on Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" sees Murray visited by three high-spirited spirits and while there are laughs aplenty, Murray's reformation and redemption are immensely powerful. Join us for free popcorn in the lounge and enjoy the hilarious supporting and loving cast of this modern Christmas classic.

Closed for the holiday

The Den will be closed Monday, Dec. 25. Happy holidays from The Den to you and your family!

Medicare

Medicare's Part D (drug plan) open enrollment has begun.

Now is the time to re-evaluate your current plan. Has it met your needs this year? Medicare recommends taking this quick Rx Enrollment Checkup. If you are satisfied with your plan, you do not have to do anything to re-enroll. Take a few minutes now and ask yourself these three questions: 1) Cost: Will your premium and costs change in 2007? 2) Coverage: Do you need more coverage in 2007? Will the prescription drugs you take be covered by your plan in 2007? 3) Customer Service: Are you satisfied with your plan's service?

Open enrollment ends Dec. 31 and coverage begins Jan. 1, so any changes need to be made in December. To prepare for open enrollment, call The Den at 264-2167 to make an appointment with one of the counselors to help you re-evaluate your plan. Appointments are available Mondays and Tuesdays in December in Pagosa. Remember, the Medicare counselors here at The Den are not only available to help you with your drug plan options, but they can answer your questions about Medicare in general.

Broncos' Day

Are you a Bronco's fan? Well I'm not, but Musetta sure is and she has declared Wednesday, Dec. 27, as Bronco's Day! Dig out all of that Bronco paraphernalia, along with your blue and orange colors, to show support for the Broncos as they head into their final game of the season. Root for your football team as you show your Bronco spirit at The Den.

Nails with Dru

Do you want to feel pampered this holiday season? Or, how about some fun conversation while doing something nice for yourself? Dru Sewell has offered to do your nails at The Den from 9:30-11 a.m. Wednesdays. You can either make an appointment or drop in for your nail treatment. Dru will trim, file and paint your nails while entertaining you with her bubbly personality.

Luncheon at JJ's

The Den will visit JJ's Upstream Restaurant for lunch at noon Thursday, Dec. 28, to celebrate the end of the year. Cost is $10 per person for a fabulous lunch including dessert. Carpooling will be our mode of transportation. Please sign up with The Den office by Friday, Dec. 22, to enjoy this luncheon outing.

Birthday celebrations

If you are age 60 or older and your birthday is in December, come on down to The Den Friday, Dec. 29, for lunch and celebrate your birthday. Seniors, Inc. has graciously agreed to pay for a portion of your birthday meal, so it will cost only $1 for a great lunch and lots of fun. Remember to let us know it is your birthday when you check in at the desk.

New Year's Eve party

The end of 2006 is upon us and it's time to parrrrty! On Friday, Dec. 29, The Den is celebrating all of the memories of 2006 with New Year's Eve festivities. Join us for a New Year's feast with friends for our final lunch together in 2006.

Waterpiks are here

The Silver Foxes Den Senior Center received the waterpiks you have been waiting for. The waterpiks are offered at a discounted price of $22 each. Remember, there are only limited supplies of these at this great price, so don't delay.

High school carolers

The Silver Foxes Den would like to thank the Pagosa High School choir for the lovely musical entertainment and the Christmas songs. The young singers were extremely talented and brought holiday cheer to The Den. Thank you to the high school carolers for thinking of us this holiday season.

Holiday party at The Den

Archuleta Seniors Inc. sponsored a holiday party at The Den Friday, Dec. 15. The party was a blast, with 70 people attending to celebrate. A big thanks to Mary Lou Maehr and the rest of the Seniors Inc. gang who participated in organizing the tasty appetizers and other festivities. We had a gift exchange, Santa Claus' helpers appeared, and the talented John Graves played the piano which added to the cheerful atmosphere. All in all, everyone had a merry old time!

Activities at a glance

Thursday, Dec. 21 - Lunch served in Arboles (reservations required). Archuleta Seniors Inc. and the Silver Foxes Den Senior Center holiday party with appetizers, a visit from Santa Claus, a gift exchange and music with John Graves on piano, 11:30 a.m.

Friday, Dec. 22 - The Geezers meeting, 9 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; The Den's holiday meal, noon; Bridge-4-fun, 12:30 p.m.; duplicate bridge, 12:30 p.m.; free monthly movie, "Scrooged," 12:45 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 25 - Closed for Christmas.

Tuesday, Dec. 26 - Yoga, 10:30 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; blood pressure checks cancelled; canasta, 1 p.m.; Medicare counseling and enrollments by appointment.

Wednesday, Dec. 27 - Nails with Dru, 9:30 -11 a.m.; Dance For Health class, 10 a.m.; basic computer class, 10 a.m.; Broncos' Day (wear your Broncos' colors).

Thursday, Dec. 28 - Luncheon at JJ's Upstream Restaurant (reservations required with The Den), noon. The Den is closed.

Friday, Dec. 29 - The Geezers meeting, 9 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; New Year's party, noon; birthday lunch celebrations, noon; Bridge-4-fun, 12:30 p.m.; duplicate bridge, 12:30 p.m.

Menu

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, Dec. 21 - Holiday lunch served in Arboles (reservations required). Baked chicken with mushroom sauce, steamed rice, parslied carrots, apples and pears, and biscuit.

Friday, Dec. 22 - Holiday lunch in Pagosa. Roast turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, broccoli blend, plums, and whole wheat bread.

Monday, Dec. 25 - Closed for Christmas.

Tuesday, Dec. 26 - Turkey pot pie with vegetables, orange wedges, applesauce, and biscuit.

Wednesday, Dec. 27 - Enchilada pie, lettuce and tomato, yellow squash, mixed fruit, and chips and salsa.

Friday, Dec. 29 - (There has been a menu change). Baked ham, yams, green beans, cranberry and dinner roll.

 

Veteran's Corner

Alternatives on VA prescription drugs

By Andy Fautheree

I would like to wish all of our veterans, their families and loved ones a very Merry Christmas, and happy holidays to all of you of other faiths.

VA prescription Drugs

I recently received some interesting information regarding alternatives at lower costs for VA prescription drugs.

"The Department of Veterans Affairs is helping some veterans get generic prescriptions for half the VA price", according to the news release I received.

"Veterans in health care priority categories 4 through 8 normally must make an $8 co-pay for drugs from the VA that might be available at the $4 rate being offered by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Target Corp.

"VA deputy undersecretary William Feeley has told VA providers they can write prescriptions that can be filled at any private-sector pharmacy. They cannot transfer the veterans' prescriptions directly to a private-sector pharmacy, but they can write new prescriptions if they meet state requirements and cancel existing VA prescriptions."

For the $4 drugs available at Wal-Mart, visit http://i.walmart.com/i/if/hmp/fusion/genericdruglist.pdf, and for the Target drugs go to http://sites.target.com/images/pharmacy/pharmacy_4dollar_program_list.pd.

You should consult with your VA Primary health care provider to see if this will work for you.

Fuel money

Don't forget to stop by my office for reimbursement of your fuel and overnight accommodation receipts to VA health care appointments. We are currently reimbursing 100 percent of your VA Health Care travel expenses. Also, help a fellow veteran who may be going in the same direction to the same VA facility and 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 more information on these and other veterans' 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 afautheree@archuletacounty.org. 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

Books and DVDs illuminate the Christmas spirit

By Carole Howard,

SUN columnist, and the library staff

Just in time for Christmas, we have several new books that illuminate the lives and teachings of Christian and other religious leaders.

"The Historical Figure of Jesus," by E. P. Sanders, discusses how the disciples put together reports of Jesus' life which we now have in the gospels, and their desire to present his person and the principles of what became such a powerful worldwide religion. "A New Translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls," with commentary by noted scholars Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook, is an updated and comprehensive translation of the controversial ancient scrolls, with material never before published or translated - including the most recently released texts.

"An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion for Everyday Life," by the Dalai Lama, demonstrates this leader's commitment to his Buddhist practice and provides an instructive glance into the spiritual core of Buddhism. "How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life," another book authored by the Dalai Lama, is his guide to practicing morality, meditation and wisdom.

"The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion," by Ken Wilber, acclaimed as the foremost thinker in integrating Western psychology and the Eastern spiritual traditions, reaches across disciplines and synthesizes the teachings of religion, psychology, physics, mysticism, sociology and anthropology.

DVDs for Christmas

We have four new productions on DVD - "Scrooge," "The Great Rupert," Jack Frost" and "The Little Christmas Burro" - that are Christmas classics to inspire and charm the entire family.

Books for young adults

"Mortal Endings," by Philip Reeve, is a debut novel that is part of a fantasy series which won rave reviews and several awards for excellent young adult fiction. "I am David," by Anne Holm, also an award winner, is an inspiring story of a brave boy's search for freedom that became a major motion picture.

"Nicola and the Viscount," by Meg Cabot, is the story of a 16-year-old orphan ready to enjoy London's social season who faces some surprising revelations about her potential husband.

Special treat for children

Children who love animals and are able to read on their own will enjoy the "National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia," a stunning new encyclopedia about the incredible world of animals that features more than 1,000 color illustrations.

Non-fiction

In "The Audacity of Hope," by Barack Obama, the Democratic senator calls for a different brand of politics for those weary of partisanship and alienated by what's happening today in Congress and on the campaign trail.

"Sincerely, Andy Rooney" is a collection of letters to viewers, lawyers, friends, those interested in religious matters and others by this much-admired essayist and commentator on the CBS 60 Minutes TV program. "The Way We Were: Remembering Diana" is written by Paul Burrell, who served as Princess Diana's butler from 1987 until her death in 1997 and was described by her as the only man she ever trusted.

New novels, best-selling authors

Dean Koontz's latest is "Brother Odd," featuring what The New York Times called "the nice young fry cook with the occult powers who is Koontz's most likeable creation."

"The Right Attitude to Rain," by Alexander McCall Smith, is the latest in the best-selling adventures of ethicist and sleuth Isabel Dalhousie.

"First Impressions," by Nora Roberts, is a classic romance set during Christmastime.

Tony Hillerman's "The Shape Shifter" brings back the legendary Lt. Joe Leaphorn in this latest tale of murder and mystery in the Navajo world.

Thanks to our donors

This week our thanks for generous donations of books and materials go to Karen Hoch, Nick and Chrissy Karas, Don MacNamee, Alexandria Reeds, Lisa and Bob Scott, Wyatt Walston and Patty Yost.

Merry Christmas to all

The library will be closed Monday, Dec. 25, and Tuesday, Dec. 26, so our staff can celebrate the holidays with their loved ones.

We send our best wishes for a joyful Christmas to you and your families. As the native Americans say, "Ya at' Eehgo Hininado" - May your life be filled with goodness.

Arts Line

PSAC gallery on winter schedule

By Linda Strathdee

PREVIEW Columnist

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council Gallery in Town Park is now on winter hours.

Although the gallery will not be staffed on a regular basis, voice mail and e-mail will be checked regularly, so please leave a message and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Remember, it is not too early to sign up for our January workshops and this can be done over the phone or through the mail.

The Artist Spirit

This segment addresses your heartfelt questions about the arts. It is geared to enlighten and inform, be sincere, humorous or just plain fun. It provides you an opportunity to hear what other artists are thinking and feeling and a place to speak out in the Art Community

If you have any questions for Dear Liz Rae, e-mail psac@centurytel.net attention: The Artist Spirit, or mail your questions to The Artist Spirit, PSAC, PO Box 533, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Your name is not necessary.

Dear Liz Rae:

Why can't I sell my paintings for what they are worth? I am as good as those who are getting the big bucks. People say that my art is good and should be in galleries. I'm starving while others are feasting.

Just Another Starving Artist

Dear Starving:

If you want to eat, you've got to come to the table. Marketing is how you develop sales and the price will follow. It is more than just putting a big price tag on a piece of art. Are you willing to pay the price in order to get the big bucks?

I am sure that those whom you are talking about have paid their dues. It doesn't come easily. They have probably at one time toted their art through the streets, believing in art. They have stood in the rain and wind to sell their art at outdoor shows, smiled and been pleasant at gallery receptions, entered contests, been rejected, and donated to charity functions.

Start by entering local shows. Become aware of the shows that are available. Start looking at creative ways to get your art out to the public. Listen to what others are saying. Be willing to suck up your pride, call on galleries and gift shops and learn where your paintings belong. If gallery owners reject you, question why and take their advice. Their ears are open to the pulse of the buying community and they will be glad to tell you. They are there to make sales.

Fat or lean, your choice.

Liz Rae

Watercolor club

Watercolor club meets the third Thursday of each month at 10 a.m. in the Arts and Crafts Room at the community center. Watercolorists of all levels are provided the opportunity to use the room for the day. Attending members contribute $5 for use of the space. Attendees should bring a bag lunch, their supplies, and a willingness to have a fun creative day! New participants are always welcome.

2007 council calendars

There are still 2007 Arts Council Calendars available.

The calendar features works by 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, fabric art, watercolor and mixed media. Calendars are available at the gallery for $9.95 plus tax for nonmembers and $8.95 plus tax for PSAC members. These calendars make wonderful Christmas gifts; call and leave a message and staff will make sure you get them in time for Christmas.

Photography club

Interested photography enthusiasts are welcome to attend their first Pagosa Springs Photography Club meeting at no charge. Any and all are then invited to join for $20 annual dues.

For more information, contact club president Sharon Comeaux at 731-4511 (daytime), 731-5328 (evening) or e-mail at m_mcomo@yahoo.com.

Start the year with an art class

PSAC has begun to develop its 2007 workshop schedule with the first classes being 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.

Arts Council open house

PSAC will hold an open house in the South Conference Room at the community center Jan. 18 . Mark your calendars now and plan to drop by and learn more about the Arts Council, its mission and goals and what it hopes to accomplish in 2007 and beyond.

PSAC workshops

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, www.pagosa-arts.com. 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 psac@centurytel.net.

To date all of 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, please call PSAC at 264-5020 and leave your name and number and we'll touch base with you.

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 .

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. 18 - Watercolor club, 10 a.m., community center

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 (psac@centurytel.net). 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, CO 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

Pick a zone, lend a hand

By Karl Isberg

"Karl, have you seen those new books that arrived the other day?"

Kathy orders a lot of books. She reads them and attaches different colored tabs to pages to remind her to reread those pages. Red means reread immediately; orange is reread soon; yellow means return within the month, and so on, all the way to the cool side of the spectrum, with ultramarine blue signifying a need to reread the passage some time before she dies.

"Which books are you talking about, honey?" (Advice to newlywed guys: I use "honey" as part of my complex, domestic armor. "Honey" mitigates lots of things. So does "Sweetie." Use them, young fellows - liberally. Save "Darling" for special occasions. Be very, very careful with "My pet." Unless you regularly wear a silk smoking jacket and an ascot, avoid "My precious dove" entirely.)

"I bought a couple new feng shui books because there are rooms I want to redecorate, and I got a couple more books on how to deal with clutter in the home. I can't find them."

Oh, really? Is there a chance that's because they're buried beneath a pile of CLUTTER?

This thought joins a thousand others that remain unspoken. (Newlywed guys - take note).

At Kathy's urging, I join the search.

"Check the dining room table," says my bride.

I check the table. Or, what I guess is the table.

It looks like a scale model of the Siberia With a View landfill. Every square inch of the surface is covered with debris. And not just one layer of debris. Layer upon layer: Stacks of paper, pieces of different sizes, gauge and color which, in the hands of a practiced archaeologist, would tell a fascinating story of a civilization, now lost, that once inhabited the area.

"Nothing here, Honey. At least as far as I can tell without taking a core sample."

"Well, check the bedroom; maybe they're in there."

Sure. In one of the teetering piles of crap stacked on the floor. Or, maybe, they're part of the lasagne-like melange of detritus atop what I assume are the dressers.

And so it goes: Everywhere the search leads, a mound of paper and books and scraps of who-knows-what presents itself - daunting sad.

The garage?

Don't bother: there are boxes of stuff in the garage we brought from Denver when we moved here more than 20 years ago. The boxes are labeled: "Knickknacks," Library," Mementos," "Miscellaneous."

In reality, it's all miscellaneous. Neither of us remembers what is in the boxes.

And neither of us cares to open them and resume a relationship with the goods. After all, we've got plenty right out (for the most part) in the open.

Clutter.

And, if we could just find those darned books Kathy ordered recently - or any of the other dozen or so she's ordered over the past few years - we might be able to begin to deal with the clutter as well as with the profound psychological and cultural problems that cause us to create and tolerate this incredible pile of junk.

That's right: the problems.

"Hi, we're Karl and Kathy. We're Clutterholics."

Sound familiar?

Go ahead, admit it; many, if not most of you, are fellow Clutterholics. You're just not making the meetings on a regular basis. (And, if you say you are not, or have never been prone to collect useless crap you are either 1) a liar or, 2) an anal retentive personality who is not a whole lot of fun in the first place.)

In this self-indulgent and wasteful society of ours, clutter is the wake given off by the great ship of consumerism. We buy, we keep, we clutter.

And, when we come to our senses, if only temporarily, we deal with the mess.

Once we find the book.

Finally paydirt! I go down to Level 8 in the stack of periodicals, mail flyers and other meaningless documents sitting ill-ordered atop an end table and there it is - one of Kathy's newest books on how to deal with clutter.

This one boldly claims we can reclaim our space and, thus, reclaim our lives.

Never a bad idea: reclaiming one's life.

According to the authors, Peter and Shaun - a couple of confident and very tidy looking fellows - there is a system to all this. They use their own dwelling (apparently they are roommates) as an example of the miracles that can be wrought.

First off is a quiz, to determine whether or not the reader needs help. We skip the quiz.

Second is an assessment of the situation. How bad is it on a scale of 1 to 10? No need to spend a lot of time here either.

Next is the sorting process. The guys urge us to separate the home into different zones, to prepare ourselves for the separation process and to lessen our anxiety by imagining the perfect rooms (or zones).

To determine which items in a zone will be jettisoned, we are urged to ask ourselves questions like: Do we love a particular item?; Have we used a particular item in the past several months?; Is the item honored or respected?; Is the item dust-free? (it takes a bit of time to read this question after a huge dust bunny falls off a countertop onto the page); Does the clothing fit?; Is there space for the item?

Well, of course, the answer to every question, with respect to 99 percent of the clutter, is "no."

One of the tips for discarding clutter, besides putting it in the back of the truck and taking it to the dump or the thrift store, is to give it away or sell it. We mention the notion of giving away useless items to our daughter, Ivy, and she changes her telephone number. It's unlisted now. Kathy seizes on the idea of sales, Friedmanesque free market fanatic that she is, and determines to set up a video/computer center in a basement room in order to go into the eBay biz. As soon as the clutter is removed from the basement room, that is.

Yard sales? You bet. A great way to pass your useless junk on to other Clutterholics.

Peter and Shaun suggest we make the sorting process "fun." The guys suggest "a dress-up day" and that we "blow up balloons and decorate the particular area you are attacking." Kathy makes a list of "fun" things; her list begins with "Bake cupcakes."

The reordering process is not simple, or easy, and Peter and Shaun mandate a complete makeover of the abode once the debris is cleared: repainting, new furniture (Kathy likes this one) neat-as-a-pin offices and laundry rooms; a sparkly garage; shelves and cabinets that look like they belong in a Shaker community; mail and bill sorting systems that immediately circulate the paper through a shredder.

What you get is a Zen monastery with some snazzy Crate and Barrel accoutrements.

Looks like a plan!

So to the sorting.

I suggest Kathy tackle the dining room table, if she can find it.

I will move to the other side of the "primary domestic zone" and work my way through the clutter on and near the couch and ottoman.

Kathy attacks a pile of crud on the table. "Ohhh, look," she coos. She holds a photo of our granddaughter, Ipana. It was taken when the tyke was 3 years old. It's been buried on the tabletop for four years. Kathy goes into a reverie. The day is lost; she gets up and scurries off to find a photo album into which she can insert Ipana's image. It could take her a week or so to find the album.

As for me, three layers deep in the sedimentary mess on the ottoman I find my copy of "The Professional Chef," from the Culinary Institute of America. I've been looking for the book for at least six months. And it is no small tome, mind you; the darned thing is a large-format hardcover book, at least 3 inches thick. It was concealed beneath a nearly impenetrable mat of AARP bulletins and two-year-old Rodale publications. Oh, look!, there's a notice from the State of Colorado: something about renewing a driver's license in 2003.

I flip open the massive culinary instruction manual - one of the most complete on the market.

Zounds! Pan-fried halibut with tomato caper sauce.

I've used the CIA recipe as a template, working my variations relative to ingredients available.

For instance halibut.

As you well know, there are very few spots nearby where one can reel in a halibut. This might not be the case for very long, what with global warming rapidly pushing the Pacific coastline to a spot several miles west of Cortez. But, for now, the only place to find halibut is the local market. Got to catch it right off the boat, so to speak. Tilt the package: If a gray-tinted liquid bubbles from beneath somewhat yellow flesh, forget making this dish.

All you need are some halibut fillets. Take the skin off the store-bought hunks of fish and they'll be fine. The room-temperature fillets get dusted with seasoned flour, dipped in egg wash and rolled in seasoned fresh bread crumbs (make 'em in the processor). The fish is cooked on each side until browned in heated olive oil and butter, over medium high heat. Then, into a 350 oven it goes until done. It won't take long. Test one of the fillets, see if it flakes. Don't overcook.

The sauce is where adjustments must be made.

You need minced garlic; some dry white wine; a tablespoon or so of drained, chopped capers; several anchovy fillets; some fresh lemon juice; salt pepper and chopped parsley. You also need some finely diced tomato, and here is where things can go south in a heartbeat here in Siberia With a View. Tomatoes? Fat chance. Your only safe bet this time of year is to purchase some hothouse tomatoes - the fairly small ones in a plastic box - or some cherry tomatoes, if they look decent. You need to seed the fruit before dicing it. If you want to appear to be a better cook than you really are, julienne the tomatoes. This is enough to fool friends and neighbors.

The CIA recipe also calls for tomato coulis.

They gotta be kidding! Better just to saute minced white onion in olive oil, throw in some minced garlic for a minute or so, then add some tomato puree and cook it until it begins to take on a bit of a rust color. Add a touch of chicken stock, a splash of red wine, a bit of basil, thyme and a bay leaf and turn the heat to low. Cook slowly for a while until it reaches the consistency you desire, remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. It'll do.

To make the sauce, heat olive oil over medium heat and toss in the garlic and anchovy fillets. A minute or so later, spent mashing the anchovy into paste, (don't let the garlic brown), splash in the white wine and reduce until nearly gone. Throw in the capers, the diced (or julienned) tomato and a wad of your facsimile of the coulis. Simmer for a while then add some lemon juice, salt and pepper and a wad o'butter. Take off the heat and, as the butter melts and emulsifies the liquid, toss in some chopped parsley. Pour over the fish.

I think I'm going to need quite a bit of time to reacquaint myself with this CIA book - with the sections on technique, and all the recipes. It's going to demand a lot of me, and I'm not sure what will be left for the decluttering project.

Obviously we need help.

Peter and Shaun are probably not willing to travel to Siberia With a View to assist us, busy as they are selecting and purchasing new duvets for their guest room.

As a result, I think we'll hold a Be Kind to Your Hometown Clutterholics Day, here at the house. Come spring, we'll purchase an ad in the newspaper and invite any and all of you to come over and lend a hand. We will match you with the appropriate zone; those of you who are heavy equipment operators will be asked to provide motor-driven, mechanical assistance. We should be able to clear this baby, every zone, in a day - a day and a half at most.

Do you like balloons and cupcakes?

 

Extension Viewpoints

Poinsettia history and care

By Bill Nobles

SUN Columnist

Dec. 25 - Office closed.

Poinsettias

The Aztecs cultivated the poinsettia in Mexico long before Europeans came to the Western Hemisphere. They used the bracts for a reddish-purple dye and the latex to counteract fever.

The plant also played a part in midwinter celebrations and was widely planted in Gardens. In 1925, Joel R. Poinsett, a botanist and the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, sent some plants to his home in South Carolina. He shared his finds with other plant enthusiasts. December 12 is National Poinsettia Day and recognizes Poinsett's contribution to the holiday season. Many others have also been instrumental in establishing poinsettias as a house plant and holiday tradition, breeding them to last longer in the home. Originally sold as cut flowers, poinsettias were not used as potted plants until the early 1920s.

Selection

Poinsettias come in many colors and forms. New selections appear every year. Choose a plant with dark green foliage. However, cultivars with lighter colored or mottled bracts typically have lighter green foliage. Plants with pale green, yellow or fallen leaves generally have a root disease problem, have been over watered, had an excessive dry period, or received limited fertilization. Bracts should be well developed with little pollen showing on the flowers. When outside temperatures approach 35 degrees F, be sure the plant is well wrapped or sleeved before transporting. Low temperatures, even for short periods, can damage leaves and bracts. Remove sleeves promptly to prevent epinasty, a downward bending of the petioles.

Cultural requirements

Poinsettias thrive on indirect, natural daylight - at least six hours a day. Avoid direct sunlight, as this may fade the bract color. If direct sun cannot be avoided, diffuse the light with a shade or sheer curtain. To prolong color, keep plants out of cold drafts and away from excessive heat. Ideal temperatures are 67 to 70 degrees during the day and 60 to 62 degrees at night. Remove damaged or diseased leaves.

Poinsettias require moderately moist soil. Check plants daily and water thoroughly whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. Plants in clay pots require more water, while those in plastic pots are easily overwatered. Apply water until it runs out the drainage hole. Do not allow poinsettias to sit in standing water. If the container is wrapped with foil, remove it when watering or make a hole in it for drainage. Discard any collected water in the drainage receptacle. A poinsettia does not require fertilization while it is in bloom. However, to maintain green foliage and promote new growth indoors after the holidays, apply a balanced all-purpose house plant fertilizer once a month. Always follow the directions on the fertilizer label.

Reflowering

To "reflower" poinsettias for the next year, strictly follow these simple steps. After a plant has passed its stage of usefulness, usually by late March or early April, remove the bracts and part of the stem. This cutting back can be done any time through mid-July, depending on the desired final size and shape of the plant. Leave three or four leaves on each remaining stem.

During late spring and early summer, move the plant to the next larger size pot. Use a well-drained potting medium, preferably heat-pasteurized. Use any well-drained soil, such as a blend of equal parts sphagnum peat moss, vermiculite and/or perlite. Thoroughly mix 1 tablespoon of treble superphosphate fertilizer in each gallon of soil mix. Apply a slow release fertilizer to the soil surface.

Prune tall growth at approximately six-week intervals to keep the plant well formed. The last pruning or pinch before flowering should occur in late August. The poinsettia is a naturally woody plant that easily can be trained into many shapes during summer pruning. Consider a poinsettia tree, hanging basket or other artistic creation. Just remember to heed the last pinching date and the darkness requirement to achieve your masterpiece by the holidays.

Indoors, place the poinsettia in a bright area where the temperature will remain constant. Water as needed and fertilize with a complete fertilizer every two to three weeks. During the summer, the plant may go outdoors in a partly shaded area. After the danger of frost is past in the spring, and minimum temperatures reach 55 degrees, place the plant on the patio or sink it into the ground. It prefers a well-drained, slightly shaded location. Turn the pot once a week to prevent roots from growing through the drainage hole. Bring plants into the house when night temperatures are colder than 55 degrees, approximately Sept. 1 in Colorado.

Poinsettias are short-day photoperiodic plants. This means they set buds and produce flowers as the autumn nights lengthen, blooming naturally during November or December. To flower and develop colored bracts, a poinsettia must receive as much sunshine as possible during the day. Starting about Oct. 1, it also needs at least 14 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees. Stray light of any kind (street lights, pool lights or lamps) could delay or entirely halt the reflowering process. The dark treatment should last until color shows in the bracts (approximately Thanksgiving). Some modern cultivars may show color as much as two weeks before Thanksgiving. Continue fertilizing and watering to encourage good growth.

Disease and pest control

Many pests can infest poinsettias. Wash off insects with mild soap and water, using a sponge or gentle spray. Mealybugs and whiteflies may require pesticide application or removal of infested plant parts. To remove mealybugs, apply ordinary rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab. Cold, moist soil temperatures encourage root diseases. If lower leaves start turning yellow and fall off, a root rot condition may exist. Apply an all-purpose fungicide as a soil drench. The milky sap that exudes from a poinsettia when damaged is called latex and is not the result of any insect or disease infestation.

Poinsettia not poisonous

In a 1995 poll funded by the Society of American Florists, 66 percent of the respondents held the false impression that poinsettia plants are toxic if eaten. Research at Ohio State University in 1971 showed that rats fed unusually high doses of poinsettia plant parts were not adversely affected. The POISINDEX® Information Service, the primary resource used by most poison control centers, states that a 50-pound child would have to eat more than 500 poinsettia bracts to surpass experimental doses. Based on the rodent tests, accepted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the commission denied a 1975 petition filed by a New York citizen demanding that poinsettia plants carry caution labels that indicate they are poisonous. Like other non-food items, poinsettia plants are not edible and are not intended to be eaten. If eaten, parts of all plants may cause varying degrees of discomfort, but usually not death. Keep plants out of reach of small children.

 

Pagosa Lakes News

St. Nicholas, a true humanitarian

By Ming Steen

SUN Columnist

Shopping mall Santas might be good sports, but the real hero was St. Nicholas, a true humanitarian.

The legends about St. Nicholas are abundant, but the facts are few. Historians agreed that he was born around the year 280 in what is now Turkey. During his youth, Nicholas' homeland was under the control of an anti-Christian Roman emperor making it a dangerous time for a Christian such as Nicholas.

Life for Christians got a lot easier in 312, when the new emperor, Constantine, converted to Christianity and called off the persecution. The next year, Nicholas became a bishop. He was revered as a kindly fellow who helped the poor and sick. He died on Dec. 6, sometime between 343 and 353, and was buried in the town of Myra, which is now a city in modern Turkey called Demre.

Stories about the miracles performed by the beloved local bishop were told and retold, and by the 6th century, a huge church was built in his honor in Myra. Countless pilgrims traveled to the historical basilica, which contained the saint's bones, to pray for his protection and blessing.

An influential biography of St. Nicholas appeared in the 9th century, enhancing the saint's reputation. Many of the stories describe miracles such as calming the sea with his prayers, arranging for the magical replenishment of wheat during a famine, and even raising people from the dead.

But the story most repeated about St. Nicholas had nothing to do with the supernatural. Instead, it highlights the man's generosity. According to medieval biographers, Nicholas' parents died and left him an inheritance when he was young. The teenage Nicholas heard about an impoverished neighbor who had three daughters and no money to feed them - much less provide dowries for them. No one would marry any of the girls without a dowry.

After Nicholas learned of the plight of this family, he anonymously left three small bags of gold coins at their house. This tale, coupled with Nicholas' celebrated kindness to children, appears to be the inspiration for the tradition of giving small gifts on this feast day of Dec. 6.

For hundreds of years, the church at Myra attracted pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean. Then, in 1087, some Italians stole the saint's relics and spirited them away to the town of Bari, near the heel of boot-shaped Italy. It was all the rage in the Middle Ages to steal bits of saints from one church and display them in your local church, thereby diverting all the pilgrims - and their spending money - to your hometown.

By 1089, a new church was built, and Pope Urban II came to Bari to lay the bones in the crypt of the church. As plays and paintings depicted episodes in the life of this generous saint who protected children, the cult of Nicholas kept growing. The church at Bari became a great pilgrimage site.

Before long, Nicholas was the patron saint of - take a deep breath - sailors, children, unmarried girls, barrel makers, orphans, prisoners, lawyers, newlyweds, Greeks, Russians, and just about everybody else. He is even the patron saint of pawnbrokers, who still indicate their trade by displaying three golden balls, a reference to the three bags of gold St. Nicholas gave to those unmarried girls 1,700 years ago.

St. Nicholas' popularity waned only when the practice of praying to saints was condemned during the Reformation, starting in the 1500s. Of all the Protestant countries in Europe, only Holland continued to revere St. Nicholas, whose name they pronounced "Sinterklaas." In 1626, a group of Dutch settlers traveled to America in a ship adorned with a figurehead of St. Nicholas. It wasn't long before the legend of "Santa Claus" took root in the New World.

The recreation center will close at 3 p.m. Dec. 24 and be closed all day Dec. 25. Pagosa Lakes administration offices will close at noon Dec. 22 and be closed all day Dec. 25. We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.

 

Births

Payton Ann Smith

Jordyn Martinez-Smith would like to introduce her new baby sister, Payton Ann Smith.

Payton was born on Dec. 2, 2006. She weighed 6 pounds, 11.2 ounces and was 19 inches long. The parents are Dennis and Natosha Smith. The very proud grandparents are Sammy Martinez of Pagosa, Beverly Martinez of Dulce, N.M. and Earl and Sheila Smith of Dennison, Texas.

 

Obituaries

Esther Orr

Pagosa Springs resident Esther Orr passed away Friday, Dec. 15, 2006, at her home. She was 74 years old. The cause of death was a sudden heart attack.

Esther was born in Bayfield. She lived in Silverton, Colo., after her marriage to Gene Orr in 1948. She was a 30-year resident of Pagosa Springs, and worked at the post office until her retirement. After retirement, she enjoyed volunteering. She was active at the senior center and served many years on the board of the Area Agency on Aging. She also was active for many years at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, helping to build the new church at 225 So. Pagosa Blvd., where funeral services were held Wednesday, Dec. 20. She sang in the choir and served on the Altar Guild. She also read for the blind. Esther was an avid traveler and traveled to many parts of the world.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Gene, who died in 1990. She is survived by her children, Beverly Rich of Silverton, Steve Orr of Pagosa Springs, Tom Orr of Brainerd, Minn.; adoptive son Larry Reed of Pagosa Springs; brother Tom Richards of Pagosa Springs; and sister Eileen Hammond of Thermopolis, Wyo. She has three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to St. Patrick's Episcopal Church or the San Juan Historical Society in Silverton.

 

James Wilbur Fassett, Jr.

James Wilbur "Willie" Fassett, Jr., passed away Dec. 13, 2006, at the age of 81.

He was born Oct. 18, 1925, to Josepha and James W. Fassett, Sr. in Denver, Colo. After the death of his mother, he went to live with his maternal grandparents at the age of three years. Willie was raised on the Lucero Homestead with his aunts, uncles and cousins in Montezuma and Trujillo, Colo. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, served in WW II and was stationed in Great Falls, Ill., for two years. After his tour he moved to California and then to Ogden, Utah, where he worked as a naval airplane technician. He retired after 40 years. He moved back to Pagosa Springs in April 2004, and then was a resident at Pine Ridge Extended Care Center. He is survived by his cousins Philbert Lucero of Sparks, Nev.; Herman and Felicitas Lucero of Pagosa Springs; Ruben and Norma Lucero and family of Pagosa Springs; Harry and Bruce Fassett of Durango; and many loving nieces and nephews from California, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. He will be greatly missed.

Donations in lieu of flowers or cards; please make donations in James Wilbur Fassett's name to Expansion Appeal Matching Gift Fund, c/o Father Carlos, PO Box 4759, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

 

Charles Pargin

Charles David Pargin was born Feb. 12, 1910, in a small log cabin on the Piedra River at the Pargin Ranch near Pagosa Springs, to Doll and Leona (Harlan) Pargin. He attended the Piedra School, then Fort Lewis High School at Hesperus. In 1935, he married Sylvia Cooper, and they lived and farmed at Washington Flats, where they raised their three daughters. In 1947, Charles and his father built Pargin Lake on the property, now called Lake Capote. The lake was open to fishermen, family recreation, and Pargin netted rainbow trout for commercial sale.

Pargin served as commissioner for Archuleta County in the late 1940s. He lived his life with integrity, as an honest, upright man who could be counted on to help everyone and fix anything with his mechanical abilities.

After selling the ranch in 1963, the Pargins moved to Summit Ridge near Cortez, where he continued farming until he retired, moving near Cedar Hill, N.M. Their extensive travels included Israel, Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Alaska and Canada. Pargin passed away peacefully in his own home December 17, with his daughters and wife nearby, having refused to take any medication for more than 96 years.

Pargin is survived by Sylvia Pargin, his wife of 71 years; his daughters: Shirley Kingsley, of Monte Vista, Dolly Ann Dillinger, of Blanco Basin, Charlotte Metz, of Cedar Hill, N.M., and Barbara Cooley, of Kalispel, Mont.; 10 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and 10 great-great-grandchildren. All his family believes they have been extremely blessed to have had him in their lives.

Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, No. 2 Hilltop Circle, Durango. A luncheon will follow the services.

 

 Business News

Chamber News

Business lighting contest winners

By Mary Jo Coulehan

SUN Columnist

We would like to thank Colorado Dream Homes for sponsoring the recent business lighting contest as well as all the participants.

We had a wonderful evening, traipsing around the Pagosa area viewing all the beautiful lights. Many of the displays were very close in the voting, and the winners utilized different lights and themes, and the final outcomes were gorgeous.

The winners are:

- First place - Sunset Ranch, Greg and Dena Schick. The ranch is on the north side of U.S. 160, 2.8 miles east of the intersection of 160 with U.S. 84.

- Second place - From the Spa, an in-home soaps and lotions distribution company owned by Catherine and Raymond Keyawa , one mile south of U.S 160 on Meadows Drive.

- Third place - The Springs Resort, best viewed from Pagosa Street and Hot Springs Boulevard.

Honorable mentions went to Be Our Guest Bed and Breakfast, The Flower Cottage, The Pagosa Springs SUN, Touch of the Tropics, Clarion Mortgage, Hart's Rocky Mountain Retreat and Jann Pitcher Real Estate.

Other entries included Lantern Dancer, Wolf Creek Anglers, Happy Trails Ladies Boutique, Moore Chiropractic and Made In Colorado Shoppe.

We are so pleased to have had these businesses enter the contest, but as we drove around, we created a "should-have-entered category". So, as you drive around looking at the community lights, you might also want to view the lights at Victoria's Parlor/Reign, Davidson's Country Inn, Fireside Inn, Mountain Landing, High Country Lodge and, of course, Colorado Dream Homes.

Also in our travels, we viewed some stunning homes that were all decked out for the holidays. Take the next couple of weeks when friends come into town, or take some time with your family, and drive to some of the subdivisions such as Meadows, or those near Piedra Road and North Pagosa Boulevard, or to those east of town to include the businesses we have mentioned - even south on U.S. 84.

We hope to see more entries next year in order to make the judges' decisions even more difficult!

And speaking of lights, we apologize for the inconsistency in the lighting of the Visitor Center. We have had some vandalism and are working on rectifying that situation. Our construction is also complete and we will finish decorating the back of the building now. We hope to have the full building redecorated again in time for Christmas. Just after the lighting contest, Touch of the Tropics also had some vandalism, so they will be back with most of their lighting but not quite in full swing for the holidays. We're sorry that everyone can't just enjoy our community's colorful displays without having to wreak havoc. But we'll be back soon to create the oohs and aahs and photo opportunities.

Photography, Web site RFPs

The town tourism committee and the Chamber of Commerce are posting several Requests for Proposals (RFPs), for work to be done.

The first is for Web site development. The Visitor Center site and Chamber site will be revamped in 2007. To view the requirements, access the RFP by going to the Chamber site, www.pagosaspringschamber.com, and accessing the link off the home page.

The other RFPs are for photography needs. There are two: one for advertisement creation and one for stock photography. Again, you can access the RFPs from the chamber Web site and view the links off the home page. Should you have any questions, you can contact me at 264-2360. Please note that two of the three RFPs have deadlines. We hope that Pagosa people and businesses will be able to bid. Good luck!

Holiday happenings

I would like to remind people of some of the holiday festivities that will be happening around the community.

You still have time to donate a toy to the Pagosa Marine Corps detachment "Toys for Tots" campaign. Collection points are: Ace Hardware, Alco, the community center, City Market, Paint Connection Plus, Ponderosa Do-It-Best and Jackisch Pharmacy. The Marine Corps Reserves, along with marines around the world, have been collecting toys for needy children for many years. Our own Marine Corps detachment now joins the collection ranks. For more information call Robert Dobbins at 731-2482 or Ernie Garcia at 264-6481.

On Dec. 23, the Elation for the Arts will present "A Classic Christmas" at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse, starting at 6 p.m. This family celebration will combine the instrumental and vocal talents of many musicians including John Graves, Debbie Tucker, Salley Yates, Natalie and Jarrell Tyson, Jessica Espinosa and many more performers. Advance tickets are $8; tickets at the door are $10 for adults, and children are free. For more information, contact Paul or Carla Roberts at 731-3117. Enjoy more sounds of the season as you spend some special time with family and friends.

Another gallery showing is the "Hold It!" exhibit at Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts, 333 Bastille Dr. Call 731-2766 for holiday exhibit hours. Talented artists such as Chad Haspels, Sarah Hewitt and Clarissa Hudson display their works in wood, ceramics, fiber and mixed media. The exhibit will continue until Jan. 20, so there is plenty of time during these holidays when not skiing or shopping to entertain your company.

While your company is in town, don't forget the other activities in our community. How about something different like a sleigh ride dinner at Astraddle A Saddle, or just a daytime sleigh ride at the beautiful new El Rancho Pinoso in the Upper Blanco. Call us at the Visitor Center and we can give you suggestions for activities, and phone numbers to help you book your excursions.

We would like to remind the public that the Visitor Center will be closed December 24 and 25, and Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. We will have notices about events, road and weather conditions, worship celebrations, restaurant hours and lodging availability posted in the kiosk outside the center for our travelers. With the recent snows, and with all the calls we have been fielding at the Visitor Center, we expect some very busy holiday weeks ahead. Remember, if you would like your event listed with us, contact the Chamber at 264-2360 and we will include it on our informational postings.

Chamber voting

Don't forget that it is also time to nominate an individual, couple or group for Citizen and Volunteer of the Year. Requirements for voting have changed, so please review forms that were included in the latest newsletter. If you need extra forms, we can fax you one, or you can stop by the Visitor Center and we will get you a copy. Nominations for these awards need to be in by Jan. 8, so start thinking now about all the wonderful people in this community who give of themselves over and over, year after year.

While at the Visitor Center, don't forget to vote for three of six candidates running for the Chamber of Commerce board positions. Final voting will take place at the annual meeting Saturday, Jan. 20, at the community center. Mark this date on your calendars; we'll enjoy a luscious dinner, activities and some great entertainment by the High Rollers. Tickets will go on sale after the first of the year.

Membership

Just in time for the holidays, we have one new member joining and numerous renewals.

From over the pass in South Fork, the Riverside Meadows and Fritz Allen join our chamber. Riverside Meadows is located on the banks of the Rio Grande River at 2 Dodge City Road. The establishment has two private log cabins and one apartment with queen-size beds, full baths, high speed Internet and gas fire places in the cabins. Breakfast is served daily and there is an outdoor hot tub. Riverside Meadows is also only four miles from the Rio Grande Golf Club. For more information, call toll free, (888) 773-5060.

We welcome back Goodman's Department Store, Schield-Leavitt Insurance Agency with Shea O'Briant; Darlene Gonzales and Elkwood Manor Bed and Breakfast; Fulbright Construction; Lee Riley, with Jann Pitcher Real Estate; Dick Alspach and Alspach Antiques; Mountain View Mini Storage; and Certified Folder Display.

Our non-profit renewal this week is Mountain Heights Baptist Church located at 1044 Park Ave.

The staff and board of directors here at the Chamber and Visitor Center wish everyone a very happy holiday season filled with family and friends. Thank you to all the businesses that enhance our visitors' time in Pagosa.

Enjoy the magic of our community. Have fun and be safe!

People

Cards of Thanks

Sheppard

A very special thank you to the person who dropped the hay off at 87 Carol's Curves. The orphan geriatric horse who now has a home, thanks you also.

May you be blessed for your kindness.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Thank you,

Pat Sheppard

 

Community Choir

The members of the Pagosa Springs Community Choir's board of directors would like to thank all of the wonderful people who came out to hear the concerts this last week. Your support has made for yet another successful season for the choir and you are greatly appreciated.

The choir will be taking a break from rehearsals for this holiday season but will be gearing up for their spring concert in early February. We are always looking for a few good men and women to join us so be watching for the exact date right here in The SUN. Thank you again so much.

 

Staff gathering

The staff of Circle T Pro Lumber and Hardware and Terry's Ace Hardware would like to thank the following businesses and individuals for their generous donations of items for our recent holiday gathering: Boss Hog's, The Springs Resort, Dorothy's Restaurant, McCabe's Repair Service, Pine River Clothing, AFLAC, Best Western Lodge, Shanghai Restaurant, KFC, Ski and Bow Rack, Dogwood Cafe, Liberty Theatre, Varina Boudreaux, Kari Ehardt and Dave Kearns.

We would also like to thank the employees who did such a wonderful job with the decorating and organizing of the event. Thank you very much Jennifer, Barb, Melissa, Roxie and Kari.

 

Maez family

A sincere and heartfelt thank you for all of the prayers, support and love that was shown to our family in this most difficult time of loss. A mere thank you seems hardly enough to express the gratitude we feel toward all of you who helped with food preparations and countless other things we could have not done without you. A special thanks to the Guadalupanas for serving our family and friends.

Sincerely,

Eloisa Maez's family: Manuel, Theresa and sons, Joshua and Jess Trujillo, Steve Ruegger and Elaine Maes, Wes and Lou Fay, Brad, Teresa and sons Tyler and Darrin Mael

 

Schutz

We would all like to say thank you to all the many neighbors and friends for all their support and kindness to our family during this hard time. All the visits, phone calls, cards and food were all very much appreciated. A special thanks also to Dr. Jim Pruitt, Dan Keuning, all the staff at Pagosa Family Medicine Center, Tom Bamrick and Julianna Martin.

Thanks to all,

The Schutz family

 

Weddings

Nash/Christensen

David and Catherine Brackhahn of Pagosa Springs are pleased to announce the recent marriage of their daughter, Brynne Nash, to Daryle Christensen, son of Floyd and Beth Christensen of Sacramento, Calif., and the late Laura Christensen. Daryle is a master sergeant in the Air Force, stationed at Holloman Air Force Base, near Alamogordo, N.M. Brynne is a registered nurse, employed by Alamogordo Home Care. Daryle and Brynne now live in High Rolls, N.M., with their five daughters: Annajolie Warren, Kireina, Alina and Emma Christensen, and Amberly Nash.

 

Engagement

Rickards/Flaugh

Zechariah Flaugh, son of Lisa and Darwin Flaugh of Pagosa Springs, is being wed to Randi Rickards, daughter of Randy and Sheila Rickards of Marion, Iowa, on Dec. 22, 2006, at First Assembly Church in Pagosa Springs. Zechariah is currently serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Carson, Colo., and Randi is serving in the Air Force at Cannon AFB, New Mexico.

 

Alexander/Vega

Judy and Dennis Decker of Durango, Colo., announce the engagement of their daughter, Brandy L. Alexander, to David F.G. Vega, son of Kathy and Roy Vega of Pagosa Springs.

Brandy is a captain with Los Pinos Fire. David is the deputy director of emergency operations for Archuleta County.

The couple reside in Pagosa and will be married Feb. 24, 2007, in Pagosa Springs.

 

Sports Page

Pirates stay unbeaten with win over 4A Alamosa

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

The Pirate boys' basketball team defeated 4A Alamosa last Friday, 63-52, improving its record to 6-0 on the season, in non-league play.

With the win, Pagosa stepped up one notch in the state rankings, determined by Colorado Preps, moving from third place to second in Class 3A.

Alamosa's Mean Moose, with strong athletes from the football state champion team, proved to be physical, aggressive opponents. And though the Pirates led throughout the game, it seemed there was potential for a momentum shift in Alamosa's favor at any point. But the Pirates' opponents were hampered by missed shots and foul trouble and could not match Pagosa.

The Pirates got off to a decisive lead early in the first quarter - a fast-paced run that would give the team breathing room throughout the game. The Pirates were up 9-2 with 5:30 left in the first quarter and expanded that lead to 13-3 midway through the first. The teams then traded points through the rest of the quarter, as they would for the rest of the game. The quarter ended at 20-12, Pagosa.

The home team started out fast, but Alamosa consistently tried to put the breaks to the game and slowed it significantly after the first quarter. Pagosa attempted to keep the fast-break game going, but the Pirates also had to settle down into a half-court offense.

The scoring pace was cut nearly in half during the second quarter, as the Pirates scored two baskets, followed by three from Alamosa, followed by four Pagosa free throws and another basket.

The Pirates controlled the ball well at the end of the half to put the final points on the board. After the team spread Alamosa's defense with a multitude of passes and movement along the perimeter, Adam Trujillo drove in unassisted from near half court for a layup, putting the halftime score at 30-19.

Alamosa got off to a strong start in the third quarter, with a 7-3 run that was ended by Kerry Joe Hilsabeck's first points of the game - a two-pointer that drew the foul and a conversion. The Pirates continued to trade baskets with Alamosa throughout the quarter, maintaining a 44-34 lead at its close.

The basket swap continued in the fourth quarter, as the Pirates held back Alamosa's final attempt at a comeback. With 1:47 left in the game, the Pirate starters were called out, with a lead of 59-49. Second-teamers managed to gain a point's worth of ground in the last minutes of the game, from the foul-line. The final score: 63-52.

The Pirates displayed a balanced attack - led by Caleb Ormonde with 13 points, Trujillo and Jordan Shaffer with 11, and Hilsabeck and James Martinez with nine.

Coach Jim Shaffer was pleased with the Pirates' teamwork. "The balanced scoring was good for us . . . when you have six guys scoring around double figures, you're tough to defend," he said.

In the face of Alamosa's aggressive play and athleticism, Pagosa moved the ball around to find scoring opportunities. And with a fast-paced surge of scoring to begin the game, the Pirates were able to hold on for the victory, even when the pace slowed.

After the home win, the Pirates went into preparation mode for away games in Farmington and Aztec, N.M., this week - the first Tuesday, the second slated for today, at 7 p.m.

 

Pirates defeat Farmington, travel to Aztec tonight

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

The Pirates won yet another game in boys' basketball Tuesday night, 51-43, in Farmington, N.M., against Farmington High School - the equivalent of a Colorado Class 5A program. The win put high-ranked Pagosa at 7-0 for the season.

"It was a good win, against a quality team," said Coach Jim Shaffer.

The Pirates beat 4A Alamosa Friday night and will face Aztec today, a team from yet another larger school.

Pagosa got out to an early lead Tuesday, only to have Farmington fight back during the half, coming within two in the first quarter and tying the Pirates in the second. At the half, the score was 18-16, Pagosa.

The Pirates extended their lead early in the third quarter as well, only to be faced with a 10-0 Farmington run in the middle of the third. The quarter closed with Farmington in the lead, 33-32.

Shaffer said "a lot of missed shots, especially in the first half" proved a challenge to the Pirates, coupled with Farmington's hot-streak in the third.

The Pirates scored only 10 points in the first quarter and eight in the second, while increasing productivity in the second half, with 14 points in the third and 19 in the fourth.

The Pirates pulled together in the fourth and final quarter - outscoring Farmington by nine points with consistent shooting, closing the game with the eight-point lead.

As in their game against Alamosa, the Pirates had several players near double-digits in scoring. Jordan Shaffer finished with nine points and Kerry Joe Hilsabeck and James Martinez scored eight each. The team was led by the strong performance of Caleb Ormonde, with 18 points, all from the floor.

Hilsabeck led the team with nine assists and three steals, while Martinez led the team with nine rebounds, four on offense.

The Pirates will look for their eighth-straight win tonight in Aztec at 7 p.m. - the team's last game before the winter break.

 

Pirate girls at Black Canyon Classic, 5-3 at holiday break

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

Pirate girls went one-for-three at the Black Canyon Classic basketball tournament at Montrose last weekend, competing with teams from larger schools - losing to Class 4A Rifle in the first round, 75-64; beating 4A Palisade, 45-37; and losing to 4A Pueblo West, 56-50.

The tournament games put the Pirates' season record at 5-3.

Coach Bob Lynch said the Pirates faced "pretty good 4A teams" during the tournament, with Rifle making the championship game.

The Pirates attended the eight-team, bracket tournament as the only 3A team, because they "wanted to play competitive schools in Colorado," rather than New Mexico teams, said Lynch.

In the Pirates' first tournament game Friday, Rifle got out to an early lead, going up 25-15 in the first quarter and 46-31 by the end of the half. But, despite this, the Pirates kept fighting and gained some ground by the end of the game, said Lynch. Pagosa outscored Rifle in the second half 35-33.

Senior point guard Jessica Lynch was on fire in the tournament opener, scoring 25 points (with five threes), shooting four-for-nine within the arc and five-for-ten from three-point range. Lynch also tied for the lead in rebounds (with junior Camille Rand) with seven, and led the team in assists and steals, with five and three, respectively.

Senior forward Kristen DuCharme also had a strong game with 12 points and six rebounds. Junior center Tamara Gayhart had a notable game with 11 points.

Against Palisade, Saturday morning, the Pirates had a great first quarter, jumping to an early lead, which they were able to hold throughout the game, said Lynch.

The Pirates outscored Palisade 21-12 in the first quarter, but their scoring diminished in the second, giving Pagosa a 26-19 lead at half. The scoring was nearly even in the second half, with the Pirates producing one more point than Palisade in the fourth quarter - giving the team an eight-point margin for the victory.

It was DuCharme's turn to lead the Pirates in scoring against Palisade, with 14 points, followed by Lynch with 11 points (who led the team in assists with seven, and steals, with four).

Rand and Gayhart tied for the lead in rebounds with 11, Rand pulling down seven offensive boards.

The Pirates' final game of the tournament came against Pueblo West - a big, strong team, according to Lynch.

Pueblo West took the lead in the first quarter, 11-14, but the Pirates fought back and claimed a 21-16 lead at the half. However, with the help of a trio of three-pointers in the third, Pueblo put in two 20-point quarters in the second half, versus the Pirates' 16-point third quarter and 13-point fourth, giving Pueblo West its 56-50 victory.

Pagosa had strong games from its guards, Lynch and Lyndsey Mackey, who had 15 and 12 points respectively. Lynch led in points, as well as assists, with five.

DuCharme put in 13 points, with a team-leading nine rebounds and four steals.

Lynch led the team with 51 points (including 10 threes), 17 assists and 10 steals during the three games - earning a place on the six-player all-tournament team, selected by opposing coaches.

DuCharme was second in scoring and rebounds for the tournament with 39 points and 23 boards - 11 of the rebounds coming on offense - while Rand led the team with 25 rebounds, 11 on offense.

With the Montrose tournament played, the Pirates will rest from competition until they return after the holiday break. On Jan. 4, the Pirates restart their season against 4A Alamosa at 7 p.m. After three non-league games, the Pirates will begin league play against Centauri at home at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19.

 

Pirate wrestlers go to school at Warrior Classic

By Karl Isberg

Staff Writer

It's no secret: the Warrior Classic - the longstanding, pre-holiday wrestling tournament in Grand Junction - is loaded with tough teams and accomplished wrestlers.

It is a tournament frequented over the years by the Pirate wrestling team. And one at which medals are hard to come by.

For the Pirates, or anyone else.

And, when a team is as young and basically untested as this year's Pirate squad, the tourney is an eye-opener.

One with lessons that can serve dedicated athletes very well in their high school sport careers.

The Pirates returned home from last weekend's Warrior with one medal. And a trunk load of valuable experience.

The one medal at the Warrior was won by sophomore Joe DuCharme, with sixth place at 145 pounds.

DuCharme opened tournament action with a match against J.C. Seeley, of Meeker. The Pirate won with a pin at 1 minute, 42 seconds.

DuCharme's second trip to the mat also resulted in a victory - this time a 16-6 decision over Casey Sweeney, of West Jordan, Utah.

A loss to Brandon Montoya of Roosevelt dropped the Pirate to consolation action. The loss was by a slim 3-2 decision, with Montoya one of the higher-ranked Class 3A wrestlers at 145. The match was scoreless at the end of two periods. Montoya managed a third-period escape for a single point, but DuCharme took the lead with a takedown. A lead that wouldn't last, as Montoya reversed DuCharme with less than 30 seconds remaining.

Next up for DuCharme was Aaron Heredia, of Monte Vista. The Pirate rebounded with a 16-3 win, then went on to defeat Levi Webber, of Moffat County, 13-3 in the consolation semifinal.

A first-period loss to Greg Padilla, of Rocky Mountain put DuCharme in the battle for fifth place - a battle lost by a slim 9-8 margin to Ronnie Goodwin, of Durango.

In winning the medal, DuCharme became the youngest Pirate to do so at the Warrior.

The Pirates did not fill the slot at 103.

Sophomore Steven Smith fought at 112, and acquitted himself well before suffering an injury.

Smith began the Warrior by defeating Jason Logsden, of Palisade, 10-7.

In his second match of the tournament, Smith pinned Josh Wamboldt, of Eagle Valley, at 2:33.

A second-period loss to Gabe Gomez, of Broomfield, threw Smith to the consolation bracket.

In his first consolation match, Smith faced Roberto Lee, of Farmington N.M. The Pirate battled Lee twice last season and the Scorpion was victorious. This time around, it was Smith with the win - a 4-2 decision.

Pablo Mascerenas, of Monte Vista, was next up, with an advance to the fifth-place match at stake. Smith was injured in the match, breaking his thumb at some point in the action and losing 6-5.

"He was wrestling tough when he broke it," said Coach Dan Janowsky of Smith. "He was two-and-two and he broke the thumb in his last match. He didn't say anything about it until the match was over. He could be sidelined from competition for a while, but he's not the kind of guy who will use it as an excuse for a vacation. The doctor will cast the hand, and while rules prohibit him from competing with a cast, he can still be in the wrestling room."

Cole Mastin fought at 119, losing to Nico Paraso of West Jordan, and Zack Mills, of Fruita.

At 125, freshman Tino Lister fought twice, losing to Kyle Love, of Chapparral High School, and Sam Jorgenson of Fountain-Fort Carson.

Freshman Ryan Hamilton saw his first varsity action at 130, losing two matches - one to Dave Porter, of Grand Junction High School, and the other to Tino Laureles, of Rocky Mountain High School.

Dylan Sandoval took the mat at 135. Sandoval lost difficult matches to Matt Hage, of Fruita, and Luke Weitzel, of Delta.

At 140, Waylon Lucero also got his first taste of varsity action at a big tournament. Following a first round loss to Corey Cassidy, of Broomfield, Lucero pinned Michael Chiv, of Mullen, at 5:07. A loss to Kevin Warren, of Monte Vista, ended Lucero's Warrior.

Sophomore Mike Smith was 1-2 at Grand Junction. Smith started his day with a victory over Josh Vantine, of Broomfield, in 152 action. The Pirate put Vantine's shoulders down at the 5:03 mark of the match. Losses to Justine Curtice, of Uintah, Utah, and to Simeon Usselman, of Farmington, finished Smith's tournament.

Pagosa started Andrew Carrol at 160. He lost matches to Daniel Munoz, of Grand Junction Central, and Taylor Termentozzi, of Fruita.

At 171, Caleb Burggraaf, lost matches to Brent Terano, of Delta, and Adrian Gallegos, of Montrose.

Pagosa did not put wrestlers on the mat at 189 or 215.

Joe Hausotter fought at heavyweight. Housotter had the unluckiest draw of the tournament in his first match. The Pirate faced Tucker Lane, of Nucla. Lane entered the match as a three-time winner at the Warrior and left the mat as the only four-time winner in tournament history. A 2-0 loss to Taylor Oswald, of Douglas County High School, ended the day for Hausotter.

"I'm certain we had the youngest team at the Warrior," said Janowsky, "in terms of age, and in terms of mat time. And most of our losses were a matter of maturity. Our guys didn't go out there timid; many of our guys simply don't know yet how to protect a lead - and we had leads in lots of our matches - and they don't know how to wrestle six minutes. They haven't had to do it before. But, our losses don't indicate a lack of competitive fire."

According to the coach, "Our guys were out there trying to do what they were coached to do. This kind of process needs time, it needs maturity, and we need to get stronger. That's our focus at this point. We are not going to give up belief in ourselves, in our ability to get better, or our ability to pick up new skills every week."

The team returned from Grand Junction Sunday and, Monday morning, most of the athletes were back in the wrestling room. As they were Tuesday morning.

"We had good, hard practices Monday and Tuesday," said Janowsky.

The practices were needed to keep the athletes in fighting trim for the final meet in the pre-holiday schedule - tonight, against Centauri, at 6 p.m. in the PSHS gym.

"I'm glad we've got this dual meet on our schedule," said the coach. "Centauri has three good kids at lower weights (112, 119 and 135). Our lineup will be somewhat depleted, due to vacation, but we'll probably put more wrestlers on the mat than Centauri. There are going to be some interesting matches Thursday night."

Following the dual with the Falcons, the Pirates will start their vacations, with the next practice set for Jan. 2. The Pirates host the Rocky Mountain Duals Jan 5, and the Rocky Mountain Invitational Jan. 6.

 

Pagosa Springs Recreation

Youth basketball assessments coming soon

By Tom Carosello

SUN Columnist

Registration for the upcoming 9-10 and 11-12 youth basketball seasons has ended and the assessments for these age brackets have been set for the first week of January.

All players and head coaches who registered for participation in the 9-10 league should report to the Pagosa Springs Community Center gymnasium at 6 p.m. Jan. 2.

All players and head coaches who registered in the 11-12 division should report to the community center gymnasium at 6 p.m. Jan. 3.

The assessments should last about 90 minutes; players should arrive ready to participate in dribbling, shooting and passing drills.

On a related note, the recreation department is in need of two head coaches in the 11-12 division and would like to hear from anyone interested in coaching a team in this age bracket.

If interested, contact Andy Rice at 264-4151, Ext. 231, or Tom Carosello at 264-4151, Ext. 232.

Thanks, coaches and sponsors

The 7-8 youth basketball season ended Dec. 14 and the recreation department staff would like to recognize the following coaches for their time and efforts throughout the season: Tim Miller, Nate Bryant, Andy Rice, Joseph Epinosa, Ross Lewis, Tim Pigg, Jim Amato, Allen Thompson, Todd Miller and Matt Devooght.

In addition, we appreciate the following sponsors, whose generous contributions ensured another enjoyable season for all of our young participants: Timothy Miller Custom Homes, Cat Creek Trucking, Pagosa Candy Company, Concrete Connection, Nice 'N' Clean and Design A Sign.

Thanks again to one and all for your support and dedication to our youth sports programs.

Youth basketball photos

Parents and coaches who ordered youth basketball photos for the 7-8 season can contact Jeff Laydon of Pagosa Photography at 264-3686 to check the status of orders.

The recreation department will provide plaques to sponsors who have not yet received them, as soon as the remainder of team photos becomes available.

Elks Hoop Shoot

The Elks Hoop Shoot was held Saturday at the community center, with 30 local youths participating in the annual event.

All participants received "Hoop Shoot" T-shirts, courtesy of the Durango Elks Lodge and Mary Ann Carter, Hoop Shoot director.

Winners of this year's event, who will advance to regional competition in Bayfield Jan. 6, will be announced in next week's column.

Skate pond open

The skate pond located behind the River Center is now open for the season.

Resurfacing efforts will continue Monday and Thursday evenings throughout the season.

On the nights we resurface the pond, skating will be suspended at 6 p.m. The rest of the nights the lights will be on, and skating will be available from dawn until 10 p.m. Please observe any changes to this schedule, posted on the signboard by the tables at the pond.

The parks crew will do its best to provide the level of services, as well as the level surfaces, to make the skating experience as enjoyable and safe as possible. The public can assist in this effort by refraining from leaving foreign objects on the ice, and by accommodating the wide array of skill levels and skating styles of their fellow gliders.

See you at the pond.

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 townofpagosasprings.com 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.

 

Editorial

In two years, who?

And, so it begins. We're a little less than two years from the next general election - a presidential race - and the horses are lining up to enter the gates. Faces appear in news photos and on TV. Potential candidates test the water with trips and with stints on network news hours. Several declared candidates have already bowed out. Others wait in the wings, ready to announce, some forming committees, several casting big shadows.

There's John McCain, the Republican. Rudy Giuliani is hovering, as is Mitt Romney.

Over in the Democrat's universe is Hillary. And Barack. John Edwards is smiling again. Joe Biden knows how to smile, too.

While we are certain we will tire before November 2008, we can only buy our ticket and take our seat. There's no stopping the show.

But, it is not just at federal and state levels that jockeying occurs. Locally, there are individuals who, with a vote looming in two years, are being photographed as often as possible, are sending press releases and making visits to newspaper offices. Self- righteous hacks condemn elected officials, and the backstage party nerds are eating their young already.

It is interesting to consider the local climate. Ponder these facts when wondering what might happen locally, in two years. Draw your own conclusions.

While Archuleta County has remained a Republican stronghold for years, it is not unusual to find a Democrat candidate victorious in, say, a county commissioner race. The party dominant in numbers does not always dominate the polling place. Democrats won races in 1988 and 1990. Ten years ago, while a Republican won an uncontested race, another defeated a Democratic opponent by a margin of nearly 2-1. In 2000, a Republican beat an unaffiliated opponent by a margin of 3-1.

A Democrat beat a Republican for a commission seat in 2002 by almost 600 votes. A Republican candidate emerged victorious over an unaffiliated candidate in 2004, winning by slightly more than 500 votes. This year, a Republican defeated a Democrat by less than 500 votes, 2,541 to 2,055 in the unofficial count.

Since 1996, the number of registered Democrats in Archuleta County has increased from 1,187 to 1,848. The number of Republicans registered in the county during that time period has increased from 2,363 to 5,205. Unaffiliated registrations have gone from 1,071 to 2,116.

Here is what we conclude when confronting these figures, as well as what is not obvious in them: The county will not soon see Republican registrations passed by those of Democrats or unaffiliated voters. It is not a party, however, that musters much enthusiasm among young voters. There were not many 30-year-olds at recent local Republican caucuses. In their turn, local Democrats, while adding numbers to the rolls, have not managed to energize a significantly large segment of young voters in the county.

We assume many young voters are among the unaffiliated. We also assume a number of people 18 and older, eligible to vote, are not registered.

And we ask, Where does the county's political future lie? To whom will control of this county and town pass, sooner, rather than later? When will they act, organize, run for office? And is there a chance, seeing how close the recent election was, that an unaffiliated candidate, or candidates, will step forward in 2008, collect the required (low) number of petition signatures and defeat party candidates? Could we be on the brink of something new, something that breaks what, to many, is a stale mold? Could the time be near when younger and unaffiliated members of this community step up and begin to manage the community they will inherit? We have two years to find out.

Karl Isberg

 

Legacies

Shari Pierce

90 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 22, 1916

The collection last Sunday morning at the M.E. Sunday school netted $17.72, which goes towards the Christmas tree. However, $30 is needed for the treat prepared for the kiddies, and anyone wishing to help make up the deficit may send or bring their offering next Sunday morning.

Mrs. Bob Henry and two children were up from Chromo Tuesday doing some Christmas shopping.

A defective flue set fire to the Dunagan house in O'Neal Park early Sunday morning and destroyed it. Furniture belonging to Orrin Ford was saved, but that of the Dunagans, who were living there, was burned. The loss is placed at $1,000, with $400 on insurance on the house and $100 on the contents.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 25, 1931

The champion mountain lion hunter of this section, Otis Snooks, formerly of Piedra and now of Beaver Creek, again demonstrated his prowess last week when on one day he killed a large lioness and the following day killed her two cubs. The kill took place on Indian Creek, north of the Piedra River.

Mr. and Mrs. P.A. Dutton have leased the Pagosa Bakery from Mrs. Mary Hatcher, taking possession Sunday. Having made quite a success of their lunch room and cafe, we predict continued success in their new venture.

Mrs. Mary Hatcher wishes to announce that after this week she will be prepared to accept confinement or other patients at her apartments (No. 1) in the Hatcher building. Reasonable rates and first-class care.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 27, 1956

More cold nights, some warm days but no moisture again this week. This will probably be one of the driest years ever recorded here and the lack of snowfall in December has helped to make this record. There is still plenty of time to get all the snow we need, but the chances for getting it decrease with every day that passes. The snowpack up high is also below normal for this time of year and the snow at the Wolf Creek Ski Area is scant enough that the skiing is nothing to brag about.

The home lighting of Herman Willett won first place in the home lighting this year, with that of A.D. Hahn being second. The town looks very nice at night with all the homes that are decorated and with the decorations in the business section.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 24, 1981

Snow and icy conditions Monday night twice forced local law enforcement officials to close Put Hill between Pagosa Springs and Pagosa in Colorado. Drivers without snow tires spun out attempting to climb the hill in a westerly direction and blocked traffic forcing other drivers to halt. The highway patrol closed the highway, had it sanded by state highway department personnel, then pulled cars back onto the roadway.

Planning for a new medical facility and site took up most of the time at the regular meeting of the Upper San Juan Hospital District, December 17. A contract between Kirkham, Michael & Associates was approved. The contract generally calls for the architectural firm to advise the district about site selection and building.

 

Features

Festivals of Light

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

Since Thanksgiving, if not Halloween, lights have been multiplying on homes, businesses and even in trees - each spark of light working with all the others to stand resolutely against the lengthening nights, bringing festivity and joy to winter.

This festival of lights is nothing new; it is something we have all experienced since childhood, as a part of American culture. Nor is bringing light to the darkness a solely American, or even Western concern. Culture after culture has brought celebration and light to midwinter, the darkest, harshest time of year, in order to see a way through it.

The Romans celebrated the Saturnalia during the period of the republic - a feast in honor of the god Saturn, who was father of the Olympians, as well as a god of agriculture. It was an egalitarian holiday, with rest from work and presents - including the gift of candles. During the later period of empire, the Romans continued to revere light, and its power to bring new life to the earth - worshiping the sun, which, though weakened during winter, would return in strength to thaw the ground and bring the blooms of spring.

Other pre-Christian traditions, such as the Norse and Germanic Yule, were celebrated during the darkest days of the year and gave symbolic importance to light. During the celebration of Yule, a yule log was burned, in association with feasting and revelry. Every spark from the yule log symbolized new life that would come with the spring.

As Christianity spread, it opposed, incorporated and reinterpreted many pagan rituals in its celebration of Christmas. It is almost definite that Christianity chose to celebrate Christmas near midwinter, as an alternative to the Roman worship of the sun, and as it spread throughout Europe, Christianity reformed some of the traditions of its converts (including the yule log, holly and evergreens). But while providing a reprieve from the gloom and dark of winter, the Christmas season marks the birth of the Light of the World and the believer's redemption from the darkness of sin.

Among the multitude of beautiful light displays in Pagosa, the Lindquist home on Pagosa Lake stands out for its bright color and decorations, along with the warm Christmas spirit of its owners. Johnny Lindquist, along with his wife, Chris, are at work almost every night on their display, in addition to shoveling their driveway (and even the road) for visitors, and helping the occasional unfortunate who finds his vehicle stuck in the snow. Johnny Lindquist directly connected his Christmas lights and decorations to the birth of Christ, saying his reason for the work was Jesus - though he was quick to add that, no matter your faith, we all share one God to be our focus during the season.

Though many Christians, religious and secular, anticipate Christmas by putting up lights and decorations, the traditional Christian season of preparation that precedes Christmas - Advent - is much less familiar.

Pastor Don Ford, of Community United Methodist Church, expressed regret that Advent has lost significance in society. "The holiday season has really taken over Advent. A lot of the meaning of Advent and Christmas is lost," he said.

Ford described Advent as a season to thoughtfully prepare for the Christmas celebration of Jesus' incarnation and birth - and a period of gestation for the Christian's own rebirth through Christ.

Advent - which comes from the Latin word Adventus, meaning "coming," or implicitly "the coming of the Saviour" - is the beginning of the liturgical year for churches in Western Christianity, as it leads up to the observance of Christ's birth and Epiphany, proceeding, with the lengthening of days, into Lent, Easter and Pentecost .

Advent includes the four Sundays before Christmas and can begin as early as Nov. 27, while ending with Christmas Eve. It began on the latest possible date this year, Dec. 3.

Originating in the Catholic tradition, Advent continued among many Protestant movements, including the Anglicans (and Episcopalians), Lutherans and Methodists. Many non-liturgical Protestant churches have not historically observed Advent, due to its connections to Roman Catholicism, but a quick Internet search will show an ever-increasing number of non-liturgical and evangelical churches that are beginning to recognize its theological and ritual value. Some claim it is a powerful way to focus on Christ's coming, without all the consumer trappings that have become part of the holidays.

Traditionally, Advent was a penitential season, corresponding to Lent, in which Christians looked toward the incarnation of Jesus at Christmas, which was the necessary first step toward the sacrifice of the cross, and prepared their souls for the second coming of Christ as judge. Some contemporary churches give less emphasis to penitential preparation than the hope and happiness connected to new birth and redemption.

Many churches follow the Roman Catholic tradition of observing Gaudete Sunday, which occurs on the third Sunday of Advent. Gaudete can be translated from the Latin as "rejoice," and expresses the Sunday's focus on joyous anticipation of the birth of Jesus, giving contrast to the penitential season.

According to Father Carlos Alvarez, rector of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Advent recognizes that Christ came in the past as savior, Christ comes today in the season of Christmas and Christ will come again at the end of time.

A dominant symbol during the Advent season is the Advent wreath, which includes an evergreen wreath and four or five candles. Every Sunday during Advent a new candle is lit, each representing a theme of the season, until all four are ignited on the final Sunday. On Christmas day a fifth candle, the Christ candle, is often lit - as the culmination of the weeks of preparation during Advent. Though churches differ, the candles often represent hope, love, joy and peace.

According to the Web site of the Christian Resource Institute, "The light reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world that comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope. It also reminds us that we are called to be a light to the world as we reflect the light of God's grace to others ... As the candles are lighted over the four week period, it also symbolizes the darkness of fear and hopelessness receding and the shadows of sin falling away as more and more light is shed into the world ... Finally, the light that has come into the world is plainly visible as the Christ candle is lighted at Christmas, and worshipers rejoice over the fact that the promise of long ago has been realized."

The Advent season marks the Christian's preparation for the redemptive coming of Christ, symbolizing the imminent defeat of darkness with the candlelight. Likewise, Judaism's Hanukkah, with the light of the menorah, remembers the redemption of the Jewish people from religious persecution and represents their dedication to God. Though a dominant part of the Western holiday landscape, Hanukkah (like Advent) is often only vaguely understood in our culture.

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day holiday during late November, December or even early January - depending on the lunar Jewish calendar. Hanukkah means dedication and celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BCE, after the Jews (led by Judah Maccabee) successfully rebelled from the Seleucid (Greco-Syrian) empire under Antiochus IV. During Antiochus' reign, Jews lost the religious freedom to practice their faith. Study of the Torah was made illegal, Jews were harassed (and even killed) and the Temple was desecrated and made into a shrine to Zeus. Hanukkah celebrates the reclamation of the Temple, but also a successful two-year war for religious freedom.

After the revolution, the Maccabees instituted Hanukkah to celebrate God's intervention and aid in the victory, and the symbolism, and primary ritual, of the holiday began to revolve around the Hanukkah menorah. In contrast to the seven-candle menorah that was lit historically in the Temple, representing the burning bush and the Law, the eight-candle Hanukkah menorah came to represent the God-willed victory over the Seleucids - the light of Judaism over the darkness of oppression.

According to the Talmud, a collection of oral tradition, law and interpretation of the scriptures, the eight-pronged menorah symbolizes the miracle of the oil. After the Jews reclaimed the Temple, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to keep the eternal flame burning for one day, due to the looting of their enemies. But by a divine miracle, the oil for the flame lasted for eight days, long enough for new oil to be prepared and consecrated.

The eight candles have added significance as they represent the divine intention for Judaism to be "a light to the nations." In Genesis, the first seven days of creation were the work (and rest) of God, while the eighth day marked the beginning of humanity's work in creation. Thus Hanukkah menorahs are ideally placed in a window or entry way, in order to shine out into the world. Richard Wholf, cofounder of Pagosa's Jewish congregation, Kadima Yisrael, made the additional point that Jews shared this responsibility with people of other faiths and backgrounds - Judaism being one of many lights.

According to Wholf, the Hanukkah menorah has come to represent more than is contained in the story of the oil or the Maccabean revolt. In the concentration camps, Jews gathered any thing they could find to construct makeshift menorahs, which gave them inspiration and the spirit to live on.

Hanukkah has also inspired the spirit of the community, said Wholf. It celebrates family and friends, along with the work of God and the ability of individuals and groups to carry on with faith, despite the odds.

Across cultures, midwinter festivals lessen the trials of the cold and darkness by celebrating in a community the upcoming return of the warm sun and life. To this, the Christian and Jewish seasons of Advent and Hanukkah add a belief and joy in divine redemption, along with a call to rededicate the human temple to God and the improvement of the world.

The lights that brighten Pagosa draw added attention to the human connections of family, friends and community - shining forth the holiday spirit, the Christmas and Hanukkah spirit, of good will.

 

Pagosa's Past

Tribe meets resistance with new reservation

By John M. Motter

Sun Columnist

Even as the Jicarilla Apache worked hard to occupy their new reservation starting in 1887, many local residents worked just as hard to keep them out.

The U.S. Army was called out to keep the two groups from killing each other. This particular army group, commanded by Col. Benjamin Grierson, was from the Tenth Cavalry, black soldiers. A memory of those troops remains on the reservation; Soldier Cañon, the place where they bivouacked, is a tangible part of the memory

Squatters occupied all of the arable land. The Indian agent responsible for easing the tensions said 10,000 head of non-Indian cattle had eaten all of the grass. What the cows didn't eat the trespassers harvested. The same thing happened in Archuleta County where Anglos wrested the hay of Taylor Canyon away from the Southern Utes.

Back on the Jicarilla Reservation, some of the encroachers claimed stock belonging to Indians by cutting off the animal's ears, while others impounded them and demanded payment for their release.

Several Jicarilla were assaulted when they attempted to retrieve their animals. In one incident, when a Jicarilla woman asked an encroacher for her burro, she was nearly struck down. Indian police arrested the assailant. The Anglo Indian agent ordered the arrested man turned over to the nearest civilian authorities three miles east at Amargo. When soldiers were asked to escort the transfer, they refused. This lack of cooperation pleased the settlers and encouraged them to continue their abusive practices.

Obviously, the troops were not entirely sympathetic to Jicarilla problems. They refused to enforce the trespassing laws on the reservation because of uncertainty about the exact boundaries. The boundary surveys were not completed until 1890. By that time the soldiers were withdrawn, even though settler abuses continued.

The government not only left the Jicarilla practically defenseless against the encroachers, they also bargained away the Indians' rights to earn a decent livelihood, a possibility only if the Indians retained use of all of the land within reservation boundaries.

In December 1888, the Indian Office recognized the rights of 25 bona fide settlers, who occupied 4,000 acres of the best agricultural lands. The commissioner in charge of the decision felt that even if the squatters possessed no valid rights, it might be unjust to dislodge them, overlooking the option of paying them for the land and then removing them. He did not urge the use of force to remove them from the reservation.

Loss of the arable land defeated any hope the Jicarilla had of making a living on homesteads on the reservation in accordance with Dawes Act. Provisions.

The government also stalled in providing a local agency headquarters. The Jicarilla did not have a regular agency of their own until 1902. During the interim, the Jicarilla Agency was administered either from Santa Fe, or Ignacio, headquarters for the Southern Utes.

One of the agents was Christian F. Stollsteimer, also agent for the Utes. A true Four Corners pioneer, Stollsteimer and his friends, the Archuletas, had a bad reputation among the Jicarilla, according to Veronica E. Velarde Tiller, a Jicarilla historian.

On July 4, 1887, according to Tiller, Agent Welton arrived at Dulce to find several hundred angry Indians assembled to protest Stollsteimer's appointment. They not only felt a grievous wrong was being inflicted upon them, they also disliked Stollsteimer's appointment of Augustine Vigil as the chief of all the Indians, since he only commanded a small following. Evidently Vigil got along well with Stollsteimer, who provided him with 300 pounds of flour for a feast Vigil held July 3. The Jicarilla were also unhappy being subordinate to the agency in Ignacio.

More next week on Jicarilla efforts to establish a working reservation. Information for this series of articles is taken from "The Jicarilla Apache Tribe, 1846-1970," written by Veronica E. Velarde Tiller.

 

Pagosa Sky Watch

Convert your Universal Time: It's the winter solstice

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

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

Sunrise: 7:18 a.m.

Sunset: 4:54 p.m.

Moonrise: 8:39 a.m.

Moonset: 5:57 p.m.

Moon phase: The moon is waxing crescent with 2 percent of the visible disk illuminated.

Today marks the winter solstice, the first day of winter, the longest night of the year and another night of stunning, cold-weather stargazing.

But depending on who you ask or what resource you consult, winter solstice is most likely marked for Dec. 22. What's the difference? Why the discrepancy? And which day will the event occur, today or tomorrow?

The answer is that the solstice occurs at the same time everywhere on Earth. The discrepancy lies in the differences between human time and astronomical time.

The December solstice - solstice means "sun stands still" in Latin - is an astronomical event marking the sun's southernmost trajectory across the sky and it is caused by a combination of Earth's 23-and-a-half degree axial tilt and its orbital path around the sun.

For example, during the December solstice, the Earth is tilted on its axis 23-and-a-half degrees away from the sun. Thus, those living in the Northern Hemisphere experience a short day and their longest night, while those in the Southern Hemisphere experience a short night and the longest day of their summer season. Furthermore, during the solstice, those living in the Northern Hemisphere will watch the sun scurry low across their southern horizon, while those at southern latitudes, will enjoy the sun high in the north. For those living at 23-and-a-half degrees south of the equator at the Tropic of Capricorn, the sun will soar directly overhead at noon. The Tropic of Capricorn marks the sun's southernmost point.

Thus, the December solstice has little to do with our human-engineered clocks, and everything to do with the cosmological interplay of Earth and sun. And while the solstice happens at the same time for everyone on the planet - it's how humans measure time that is different.

For example, this year's winter solstice will occur Dec. 22 at 0:22 Universal Time. Therefore, if you live along the prime meridian, the winter solstice will occur at that time Dec. 22. However, if you live in Pagosa Country, or in many other places around the world, you must convert Universal Time into local time to determine the time of the solstice. Thus, in order to determine when the solstice will occur in Pagosa Country, you subtract seven hours from Universal Time, which means the solstice occurs tonight Dec. 21 at 5:22 p.m.

While it's easy to get bogged down in time conversion calculations and degrees of axial tilt, what matters most is that the December solstice marks the longest night of the year for backyard stargazers.

And luckily, stargazing begins early tonight, with skywatchers able to begin their observations at twilight with views of our sister planet Venus, and one of the loneliest and brightest stars in the night sky.

Gazing to the southwest, skywatchers will note a thin crescent moon hovering very low on the horizon with bright Venus blazing away just a few degrees to the right. The pair will remain visible until about 5:20 p.m. when they will begin sinking below the horizon.

As the sky grows darker, skywatchers can shift their gaze about 20 degrees to the left and slightly higher above the plane of Venus and the moon, in their search for Fomalhaut, the alpha star of the constellation Piscis Austrinus, and one of the twenty brightest stars in the sky.

Fomalhaut lies almost due south, and it and its parent constellation inhabit a sparsely populated portion of the night sky. And this, coupled with the star's brightness - it burns at magnitude 1.2 - should make it relatively easy to locate. Professional astronomical observations indicate Fomalhaut is surrounded by a disk of cool dust from which a planetary system may be forming.

Although the night of the December solstice marks the official longest night of the year, Christmas Eve is often my longest night, but for entirely different reasons.

For much of the last decade, it has become a tradition to stay up all night Christmas Eve, greeting Christmas Day much like New Year's Eve, with a 12:01 a.m Champagne toast and a late night feast in front of a roaring fire. After drinking bubbly and gorging ourselves on holiday snacks we venture outside, light luminarias and ferrolitos, and then gaze up at the stars.

For those able to make the Christmas Eve haul until just before sunrise, the effort will reap views of three planets stretched out along the path of the ecliptic.

By about 6:45 a.m. in the southwestern sky and at a point midway between the horizon line and directly overhead, stargazers will find the Sickle of Leo - the famous asterism looks like a backwards question mark with blue-white Regulus marking the bottom of the question mark's stem. Then, looking just a few degrees above and to the right of Regulus, stargazers will find a bright, yellowish-cream colored Saturn. When viewed through a telescope, the ringed planet does not disappoint.

From Saturn, moving down and to the left along the ecliptical path to a point just above the horizon, skywatchers will find bold, bright Jupiter blazing away in the predawn sky. Continuing along the ecliptical path and about seven degrees below and slightly to the left of Jupiter, stargazers will find Mars, burning a dim reddish orange. Due to Mars' low position in the sky, area peaks may make viewing Mars difficult at best. As Christmas morning unfolds, the trio will inch gradually higher, eventually becoming obscured by the rising sun.

 

Weather

Date High Low PrecipitationType Depth Moisture

12/13

40

6

12/14

42

13

-

-

-

12/15

45

15

-

-

-

12/16

43

20

12/17

36

23

S

1.5"

.12"

12/18

37

22

S

1"

.08"

12/19

32

19

S

10"

.57"

A white Christmas? You bet!

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

Winter has arrived ... and so has another round of snow, assuring Pagosa Country of a white Christmas this year.

The December Solstice, or the official start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, actually occurs today at 5:22 p.m., Mountain Standard Time. Nevertheless, the Pagosa Lakes area has already received a total of 36.5 inches of snow this season, including 12.5 inches, Sunday through Tuesday night.

By Wednesday morning, the Wolf Creek ski area east of town had recorded 37 inches of snow in the latest storm, pushing its season total to 183 inches, thus far. By 7:20 a.m. yesterday, the ski area reported 73 inches of powder and packed powder at its mountain summit, with 70 inches midway.

As of press time yesterday, snow showers continued over Pagosa Springs and the surrounding mountains.

Daytime high temperatures through the past seven days slid from the low 40s Friday and Saturday, to the lower and middle 30s, Sunday through Tuesday. Yesterday, as snow showers lingered over the region, the afternoon high in Pagosa Lakes only reached the upper 20s.

Low temperatures were fairly consistent over the same period, with readings ranging from the mid-teens to low 20s. By press time, this morning's low had not yet been recorded, but it was expected to dip into the single digits.

According to the National Weather Service forecast over the next three days, high temperatures should remain in the low 30s. Christmas day should climb closer to the 40-degree mark, while Tuesday could climb higher yet. By Wednesday, however, when an approaching system brings another chance of snow, the high may only reach 30. Morning lows will keep the chill on, with readings falling to the single digits and teens.

At this point, the forecast for tomorrow suggests a slight probability of snow between the hours of 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. Chances are 20 percent tomorrow, and 30 percent tomorrow night. Sunday night offers another slight chance of snow showers, but Christmas and the day after should be sunny to partly cloudy.