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Pagosa Update: Health care reform – are you ready?

Health care reform. Are you ready for the changes?

If your business doesn’t offer health benefits now, will you have to in the future? Is there a local program you can engage in, either as an individual or as a business owner?

With health care costs rising an average of 10-15 percent each year, can your business afford insurance until 2014 when the majority of the health care reform bill goes into effect?

Health care costs have grown an average of 2.4 percentage points faster than the GDP since 1970 and the share of economic activity devoted to health care increased from 7.2 percent in 1970 to 16.2 percent in 2007.

This next quarter, the Chamber will focus on the new health care initiatives and potential health care alternatives for businesses. Do you know if your business qualifies to start taking advantage of the tax credits for up to 35 percent of premiums to help make health insurance more affordable for workers? Would you like to partner with a Chamber-sponsored health care plan, or partner with another community plan?

We’ll kick off the health care quarter with a Pagosa Update on Tuesday, Aug. 10, at 7:30 a.m. at Pagosa Mountain Hospital. Hospital director Brad Cochennet will be the guest, speaking on how the hospital is integrating itself into the community. What once was the dream of having just a critical access hospital now includes a 24/7 emergency room, a clinic, and a hospital that is taking the lead in primary care, insurance and Medicare acceptance. Major employers in the community are working together to examine community health care insurance coverage. It will take creativity and determination to find some solutions, but working we are, asking how smaller businesses in our community can make health care more affordable.

Don’t take a back seat when it comes to this critical issue. Be informed, plan ahead for you and your business. Several of our upcoming Business Bites will also be dedicated to helping employers understand upcoming health care reform changes, what they mean to a business, and the steps you can take now to affect change and participate in affordable health care. Space will be limited at the Pagosa Update breakfast, so call the Chamber at 264-2360 to reserve your space. The cost is only $5 and includes breakfast.

Upcoming events

Of course, this weekend is the Archuleta County Fair. Beginning Friday, the gates open up for “Boots, Buckles, and Barrels of Fun.” There will be the traditional competitions for foods, agriculture, and arts and crafts. This year, the carnival will be at the fair — a big addition. Don’t miss two nights of live entertainment, the Colgate Country Showdown, the Lee Sterling Chile Cookoff, the Ranch and Kid’s rodeos and, of course, the livestock auction and barbecue dinner. Fair books are available at the Extension Building and the Chamber of Commerce. Stop by and pick one up for a full schedule.

On Saturday, Aug. 14, there will be two very different events. With all the rain we have been having, I hear the ducks are happy! The annual Knights of Columbus Duck Race and Picnic will be in full swing beginning at 11:30 a.m. For only $5 you can purchase a racing duck with the hopes of winning $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place, or $250 for a third-place finish. You can also purchase raffle tickets and, beginning at 12:30 p.m., you have the chance to win a prize every 15 minutes. So, the earlier you get to Town Park, the greater your chances are to win lots of prizes. There will be activities for the children all day and great food from several vendors. The ducks will race down the San Juan River beginning at about 3 p.m. Duck tickets can be purchased at the Catholic Churches, at the Chamber of Commerce or the day of the event.

Also on Saturday, Aug. 14 ,the first Pagosa Springs Family History Fair will be held. This one-day event will take place at the local Family History Center at the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Majestic Drive. The program is open to the public but limited to 100 participants, and is free to the first 100 registrants. The major speaker will be renowned genealogist Barbara Becker Meehan, MLIS, from Oklahoma City. Her topics will include: “Information Overload: Organizing Your Genealogy Work” and “How to be a Power Hitter: Improve Your Online Searching Skills.” This seminar is for the novice and the more experienced genealogist alike. The seminar begins at 9 a.m., will conclude at 4:30 p.m. and will include five lectures, lunch and an exhibition of family history and genealogy displays. To register for the event, contact Sharron Oldham at 264-5063 or Barbara Ford at 264-2625.

Tickets are also on sale for the Art in the Garden event to be held on Saturday, Aug. 21. This spectacular event, combining visual, musical and gourmet arts, will be held at the Werner and Maryse Buck residence in Continental Estates, just three miles south of town, off of U.S. 84. The Bucks’ residence will enthrall you and you can visit numerous regional artists working plein air, demonstrating their skills. Live music will be performed all afternoon. A Country French menu has been planned to delight the palate. Tickets are available at the Chamber for $45 for a single ticket purchase or $40 apiece with a purchase of two or more tickets. Proceeds from the event will be used to distribute vouchers for needed goods and services through the Community Assistance Fund, which is administered by the Community United Methodist Church. An important note this year is that tickets will not be available at the gate; they must be purchased in advance. For additional information, visit the website, www.pagosaartinthegarden.com.

ColorFest

The good news is that tickets are now on sale for the Passport to Pagosa Wine and Food Festival to be held on Friday, Sept. 10. This annual event brings delectable wines from around the world, paired with some of the best food and desserts in Pagosa, to the tent in the athletic field in Town Park. The Passport will begin at 6 p.m. and last until 9 and there will be plenty of food and drink for all. We love this event, as it highlights some of the wonderful restaurant and catering talent in our community. Not a wine drinker? Pagosa Brewing will be on hand with some fantastic beer. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door, with the price including a collectable glass and plate. Tickets are available only at the Chamber.

The Bands, Brews, Etc. Blowout will be held Saturday, Sept. 11. The list of microbreweries attending is steadily growing, as are the band competition entries. If you are a member of a musical group and would like to enter the competition, or if you would like to volunteer to assist at either event, contact Stacy Kirby, special events coordinator, at 264-2360.

Membership

We have a large number of renewals this week that we would like to welcome back this week: First Southwest Banks; Rocky Mountain Balloon Adventures and Mike Marchand; Coyote Hill Lodge; Jim Standifer with Jim’s Lock and Key; Pagosa Pottery; Troy Ross Construction; Big Brothers Big Sisters; the San Juan Historical Society; and Lake Capote Recreation Area. Rounding out the renewals are our loyal supporters and associate members, Ron and Windsor Chacey and Michael and Joan Ward — all great community members.

Don’t forget, if you get satellite coverage, check out RFD TV and “The Horseman’s Apprentice” featuring Parelli Natural Horsemanship. Not only does this show demonstrate the tough day in the life of apprentices on the Parelli ranch, it has some extraordinary shots of Pagosa and Pagosa life. See our shops, restaurants, surroundings and scenic beauty. Check out RFD TV every Wednesday at 10 a.m. or 8 p.m. MST.

We hope to see a lot of people at the Pagosa Update as we look at health care in Pagosa Springs.