August 19, 1999

Front Page

August 19, 1999

Four injured in head-on collision

By Karl Isberg

Four local residents were hurt in a two-car crash west of Pagosa Springs on Aug. 17. Two of the victims remained in a Farmington, N.M., hospital Wednesday.

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Chris Balenti reported the accident occurred at the junction of U.S. 160 and Trails Boulevard at approximately 10 a.m.

According to Balenti, a 1986 GMC Jimmy driven by Patsy Schertz, 41, of Durango was eastbound on the highway beginning to make a turn across the highway onto Trails Boulevard when it collided head-on with a west-bound 1984 Subaru station wagon driven by Elaine Nossaman, 63, of Pagosa Springs. The trooper said Schertz reported she did not see the oncoming car "until it was too late." At the time of the crash, said Balenti, the Nossaman vehicle was traveling at an estimated 50 to 55 miles per hour.

Following the impact, the Subaru ran off the roadway into the ditch on the west side of the highway and rolled onto its top. The GMC spun about 180 degrees and stayed on the highway.

Nossaman's 16-year-old granddaughter Lara Burke, and two youngsters being cared for by Burke - Shane Madsen, 8, and Cody Madsen, 5, were passengers in the Subaru at the time of the accident. The two boys are the sons of Bryan and Lori Madsen of Pagosa Springs.

Balenti reported that all occupants of the Nossaman vehicle were wearing seat belts and remained in the vehicle during the accident. Both Nossaman and Burke were trapped in the car and had to be extricated prior to being transported to the hospital.

Burke and Shane Madsen were flown by the Air Care 1 medivac helicopter to San Juan Regional Medical Center at Farmington. Mike Patterson, director of Emergency Medical Services, said Burke was taken to the Farmington facility with a possible concussion and suspected neck injuries. Shane Madsen suffered a serious head laceration, a possible broken arm and suspected head injuries, said Patterson.

A San Juan Regional spokesperson said Wednesday that Burke was in satisfactory condition and that Shane Madsen had been treated and released.

Nossaman and Cody Madsen were taken by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center at Durango.

According to a Mercy Medical Center spokesman, Cody Madsen was treated for abrasions and released. The spokesman said Elaine Nossaman was transported to San Juan Regional Medical Center in serious but stable condition, suffering a fractured neck.

Schertz was not injured in the crash, but was taken to a local clinic for observation before being released. She was cited by Balenti for failing to yield the right of way while turning left, for driving with an expired driver's license and for driving without insurance.

 

Wolf Creek Ski Area building permit near

By John M. Motter

Wolf Creek Ski Area may be nearing the end of the long, long road traversed in order to add a ski lift, service roads and parking area.

Officials from the U.S. Forest Service, the ski area, and Colorado Wild Inc. will meet Friday with the purpose of finding common ground to mitigate an appeal filed by Colorado Wild asking the Forest Service to withdraw its approval of an environmental assessment prepared by the ski area to justify building the new ski lift, roads, and parking area.

If agreement is reached Friday and Colorado Wild withdraws the appeal, construction on the proposed expansion could begin Sept. 1. If agreement is not reached Friday, the Forest Service reviewing officer will render a decision Sept. 16. If the Sept. 16 decision denies the appeal, the ski area could start work on the project immediately. If the merit of the appeal is upheld Sept. 16, the entire process, first initiated in early 1998, might have to start over.

"If we start September 1, we have a good chance of finishing the work this year," said Davey Pitcher, manager of the ski area. "If we have to wait until September 15, finishing the work this year will be tough."

Colorado Wild's appeal claims the environmental assessment failed to analyze the impacts of the "Village" development. Consequently, the appeal asks that a new biological assessment be made containing an issue-by-issue response to each appeal issue in the appeal review.

The Village is the proposed development of private land adjacent to the ski area in the vicinity of Alberta Park. A preliminary plan for the Village as a planned unit development was approved by the Mineral County Planning Commission in 1990. Since then, extensions of the preliminary plan have been issued until an additional extension request was denied July 7 of this year, according to Steve Hartvigsen of the Forest Service.

"Basically, the Forest Service maintains that development of the Alberta Park property is speculative and a non-issue for this environmental assessment," Hartvigsen said. "The owners have done nothing to advance the plan since 1990. If they do try to advance the plan, they have to move through the public-meeting process required by Mineral County. In addition, the Forest Service will require an environmental assessment at that time providing plenty of opportunity for public input."

Pitcher agreed with Hartvigsen's analysis.

In the meantime, the ski area is using the lost construction time this summer to good advantage, according to Pitcher.

"We're building a 4,200-square-foot, two-story 'Wolf Pup' building," Pitcher said.

The Wolf Pup program is related to teaching 4- to 8-year-olds how to ski.

"We also expect to expand our scholarship program with neighboring schools," Pitcher said.

Another building program involves a joint effort with the Colorado Department of Transportation. A building is being erected on CDOT property north of U.S. 160 to house heavy equipment used for snow plowing and the howitzer used for avalanche control.

Other concerns voiced in the environmental assessment appeal revolve around the inadequate analysis of proposed facilities expansion in the area, specifically Trout Mountain Timber Sales and the East Fork of the San Juan River.

The Forest Service response to this concern states, in summary: "The Trout Mountain Analysis Area is about five miles north of the boundary of the ski area permit. The northern edge of the East Fork private land is more than two miles south of the ski area permit boundary. Therefore, issues within these areas are not relevant to the ski area expansion proposal."

 

Berry shortage leaves bears 'beary' hungry

By Karl Isberg

If you've never seen a bear, just go a local restaurant, enjoy an afternoon at a local campground, leave garbage in your dumpster, or leave the windows of the house open.

Pretty soon, you're going to see a bear. The voracious rascals are all over Archuleta County this year, and they are very, very hungry.

A severe shortage of natural foods has moved more and more of the omnivores into densely inhabited areas in the county and, according to Colorado Division of Wildlife officer Mike Reid, the situation is liable to get worse before the bears retreat to their dens for the winter.

Reid said the problem, as is usually the case when there are numerous bear-human contacts in the area, involves a shortage of acorns, berries and chokecherries - prime foods sought by bears during their pre-hibernation feeding frenzy. Spring freezes killed off a large portion of the regular season acorn and chokecherry blooms, said Reid, and heavy rains came before the growing season. Add to that a mild winter that did not produce much winter kill of game for bears to scavenge and you create a tense situation for bears.

As a result, bears are on the move in search of food, and any food will do.

"I've been here for 10 years," said Reid, "and this has been the worst year for bear-human contacts in the Pagosa area since I've been here. I'm still amazed at the number of people who don't realize there are bears around or that the bears are having a little rougher time this year. It started in July, and I have as many as eight calls a day about bears."

Bears will be totally devoted for the next two months to the project of eating enough high-quality, fat-rich food to last for six months of hibernation. That feeding is not exclusively nocturnal and can go on for as much as 20 hours per day, said Reid. "If they are in one area," he said, "it is because there is food. People still leave garbage and pet food out and still keep bird feeders near the house. Some people are trying to make sure they don't leave food out and they are still seeing bears. This is because their homes are in the midst of bear habitat or the house is between homes where food is left out."

Whatever the lure, bears are showing up in some unusual places according to reports sent to Reid.

One bear recently ambled on the deck of a local restaurant, greeting diners as they arrived for lunch.

Another bear entered a residence after breaking out a window. The animal cut its foot, so its journey through the house was easily tracked. The bear walked across a white carpet, looked at a big-screen television, went to the pantry, the kitchen and the family room and exited the house through the same window it entered. All without disturbing anything in the home.

A camper at a campground located east of Pagosa Springs was sitting down, enjoying the day, when a bear came up behind him and licked his neck.

A bear broke into a car and bit into a can of blue spray paint.

A pop-up trailer sustained $2,000 damage after a bear went inside in search of food.

Reid has also received numerous reports during the past month of damage done to window screens and to trees.

"A bear will try to eat anything with a smell," said Reid. "You can go a long way to avoid contact or damage by making the same level of effort to protect your property from bears that you do to protect it from weather. Keep food inside. You can't wrap trash well enough. Think about what drug smugglers try to do to conceal the smell of drugs from dogs. A bear can smell every bit as well as those drug-detection dogs. If you must have bird feeders, take them in at night. When they're out, keep feeders at least 10 feet off the ground and four feet out from anything the bear could try to climb."

The profusion of hungry bears and their wide-ranging efforts to find food has produced fatalities among the bear population and trouble for Reid with repeat offenders.

"We've had three roadkills in the last week and a half," said Reid, "and a fourth bear was hit. I don't remember that many bear hit in a year in our area. It is because they are having to move to find food and it is a high traffic time of the year."

Reid said a yearling was killed by a car on U.S. 84 and another yearling was killed on Piedra Road after it leapt from a trash dumpster next to the road. A boar was killed on U.S. 84 and a sow was killed on U.S. 160 near Chimney Rock. The sow had two cubs, said Reid. One of the cubs was captured and taken to a rehabilitation facility in the San Luis Valley. The second cub escaped and, said Reid, has a 50-50 chance to make it through the upcoming winter.

Two bears were killed recently by local residents. One animal was in a chicken coop and the other turned on a property owner who was attempting to chase the bear from his property.

When bears create a problem at a particular site and return with regularity, the DOW attempts to trap and move the animals. Reid has moved four animals this summer but, he said, the effort is wasted. He said bears have been known to traverse distances as great as 200 miles to return home.

"Of the four," said Reid, "one took nine days to come back from 40 miles away and that bear was killed when he went into the chicken coop. A second bear took a little longer to come back, but he is now within a half mile of where he was caught. The third bear took a bit longer yet. If you put a straight line on a map from the point where he was released to the point where he was captured, you would be able to plot the location of houses where he has been spotted. The fourth bear was not tagged because we are so close to hunting season (the first bear season starts Sept. 2)."

Should any of the three bears captured and relocated return to the spot of their capture, the DOW has a "two strikes and you're out" policy. The bear will be trapped and eliminated upon its return.

"I need to remind people again," said Reid, "that we live in the bear's back yard. They have to eat. What they don't need to eat is people food. If you find yourself in a situation where contact with a bear is serious, call Central Dispatch at 264-2131. If the situation is critical, call 9-1-1. Seeing a bear is low priority. A bear getting into your trash is low priority. A bear trying to enter a building is high priority. A bear doing damage is the highest priority. If we can save the bear by getting me or a sheriff deputy to run it off, that's the best thing that can happen. But, please remember, we live in the woods. Take precautions to avoid bear-human contact."

 

Chromo rancher 'Babe' Shahan passes away

Many folks in Archuleta County were saddened early this week to learn of the death of lifelong Chromo rancher George Leslie "Babe" Shahan.

Mr. Shahan was born April 10, 1910, in Chromo, to Grant and Agnes Shahan, early pioneers of Archuleta County. He died at Mercy Medical Center in Durango on Aug. 15, 1999.

Mr. Shahan married Iola Sara Crowley in Lumberton, N.M., on Oct. 15, 1934. To this union, four sons were born: Bob, Joe, and twins Donnie and Ronnie Shahan. The Shahan family is well known in the Pagosa area for their ranching activities.

Mr. Shahan was a member of the Archuleta County Fair Board, San Juan Soil Conservation, Colorado Cattleman's Association, served as a Colorado Brand inspector and was also a charter member of the Red Ryder Roundup Committee. He was also an active member of the Roman Catholic faith. He was a longtime strong supporter of the Archuleta County 4-H program, in which all of his grandchildren were active. Many former 4-Hers fondly remember Mr. Shahan as being the generous gentleman who shook their hand and presented them a $1 bill following their experiences at riding a sheep in the "wild and woolly" event at the annual "4-H Kids Rodeo" at the county fair.

Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Iola Shahan of Chromo; his sons, Donnie Shahan and wife, Fern of Chromo; Joe Shahan and wife Angie of Artesia, N.M.; daughter-in-law Betty Shahan of Chromo; and sister Frances Bramwell of Chromo. Mr. Shahan was blessed with nine grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by a brother, John Shahan; two sons, Bob Shahan and Ronnie Shahan; and granddaughter, Sara Lee Shahan Regester.

Services were held at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Pagosa Springs. Recitation of the Rosary was held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 1999. Mass of Christian burial for Mr. Shahan was conducted by Father John Bowe at 2 p.m. on Aug. 18, 1999.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the George "Babe" Shahan Memorial Fund at Norwest Bank of Pagosa Springs.

 

Survey questions prevent subdivision plat approval

By John M. Motter

Questions concerning a boundary survey topped a list of reasons the Archuleta County commissioners found Tuesday for not approving a final plat for the Colorado Timber Ridge Phase 1 subdivision.

Colorado Timber Ridge Phase 1 is located on the south side of U.S. 160 west of the Piedra Road junction and opposite the sixth fairway of the Pagosa Springs golf course.

The first phase contemplates a subdivision of 76 single-family lots averaging 3.8 acres each. Phase 1 is part of 1,178.3 acres planned for development in three phases. Joe Machock is general partner of Colorado's Timber Ridge Ranch Inc.

At Tuesday's regular meeting of the Archuleta County commissioners, the developer's proponents asked the commissioners to approve the final plat, release the improvements agreement, and accept transfer of the $1.7 million performance bond for use as a road maintenance bond.

Presentations concerning issues associated with county acceptance of the final plat were presented by a number of people, both for and against acceptance. At times, discussion and exchanges were heated between the opposing sides.

In the end, the commissioners refused to take action on any of the three requests.

"In this county, we have a long history of broken promises," said Ken Fox, chairman of the board of county commissioners. "Our job is to protect the buyers of property and people of the county. There are too many unanswered questions in connection with this proposal to allow us to take action."

The survey question swirled around the boundary between Timber Ridge and Alpha, a neighboring subdivision in existence for 25 years or longer. A recent survey made by Davis Engineering for Timber Ridge differs from earlier surveys along the Timber Ridge, Alpha boundary, sometimes in one direction, sometimes in another. According to the Timber Ridge representative, the county surveyor has backed the new development's recent survey.

Some property owners living on lots that are situated on the Alpha side of the boundary line have threatened to sue Timber Ridge in order to keep from losing land as a result of the new survey.

"Those pins (boundary markers) have been in place over 20 years," argued Mary Weiss, an attorney representing one of the Alpha property owners.

"Everyone knows Alpha's survey has always been wrong," said Kathleen M. Sullivan, a Timber Ridge attorney. "That's why ALEQUOT descriptions are used to describe the property. The pins are not accurate."

ALEQUOT is a method for describing a piece of property based on sections and quarter sections. The more customary method for describing the location of property is through metes and bounds.

What Larry Holthus, the county attorney, found wrong was that the boundary question was not openly dealt with in the beginning of Timber Ridge's subdivision process. Holthus recommended that the county not approve the plat.

"It appears to me there is a potential for law suits," said Fox. "It could mean people buying property might not get what they think they are buying. Since our job is to protect the people, this question needs an answer before the plat is approved."

Subdivision regulations prohibit the sale of lots prior to final plat approval. Developers can accept a promise to buy contingent upon final plat approval and accept money based on the promise. The money must be refunded if the buyer wants out. Several pre-sold lots are located along the disputed boundary.

Other issues questioned by the commissioners concerned ownership of the main sewage collection line reaching Timber Ridge from an adjacent property, perimeter fencing, uninspected road fills, rip-rapping along roads, and signs missing from along roads.

Persons representing the developer were provided a list of possible solutions by the commissioners, and promised to return with answers.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners:

- Approved an amendment to a contract with Southwest Mental Health Center for services to the county jail. The amendment authorizes payment for training charges.

- Revisited the setting of speed limits on Park Avenue. Last week, the commissioners lowered, or thought they lowered, the speed limit on Park Avenue from 35 to 30 miles per hour. Park Avenue is a main east-west street in the Fairfield Pagosa subdivision. The commissioners subsequently learned that a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit sign was already in place on Park Avenue. At Tuesday's meeting, the situation was remedied by setting a 25 mph speed limit on Park Avenue between Vista Boulevard and Carlee and a 30 mph speed limit on the north-south portion of Park Avenue between Carlee Court and Cloudcap Avenue.

- Agreed to join the statewide County Association for Recycling at an annual cost of $100.

- Took no action on a proposal by Commissioner Gene Crabtree that registered engineers and architects be allowed to sign building permit plans, thereby relieving the county building inspector of the responsibility. The building inspector would still be required to inspect building in progress. Action on the proposal was postponed pending the accumulation of more information.

- Declined to conduct exit interviews proposed by Sheriff Tom Richards because the interviews were requested by the sheriff and not by the departing employees.

 

Memorial services for Dallas Pancoast

Memorial services for Dallas Pancoast will be held Saturday, Aug. 21, at 10 a.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. Father John Bowe will officiate. The Rosary will be recited Friday night at 7 o'clock.

A Pagosa Springs resident for four years, Mr. Pancoast died July 14, 1999, in a Pueblo hospital. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Foundation.

 

Blood Drive will be held next Thursday

Representatives of United Blood Services will accept donations at United Community Methodist Church of Pagosa Springs from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 26.

Prospective blood donors must be 18 years old or older and have a valid photo type of identification.

For more information, phone 385-4601.

 

Inside The Sun

Pagosa couple surprised by drive-in visitor

By Karl Isberg

It's a car.

No, it's an alarm clock.

Steve and Kim Laverty learned of a new and unique use for an automobile on Aug. 14 when they were roused at approximately 8:30 a.m. by a GMC Jimmy . . . colliding with the front of their house at 510 South 6th Street in downtown Pagosa Springs.

According to Pagosa Springs police officer George Daniels, the Lavertys were in their home when a vehicle driven by Jose Omar Granados, 21, of Pagosa Springs, made a surprise trip up the driveway and into the front of the house.

Daniels said the GMC was traveling westbound on Zuni Street when Granados failed to make a turn to South 6th Street. Daniels said the vehicle went off the road into a ditch, came back to the east and across the street, went up the Laverty's driveway and hit the house. The officer said the collision collapsed two to three feet of the siding on a front entry area that the Laverty's also use as an office space.

"The homeowner (Steve Laverty) heard the noise," said Daniels, "looked out and saw the driver trying to start the car and leave. The driver got the car started but the homeowner caught him, took the keys and detained the driver."

Daniels said Granados claimed a Pagosa area residence but possessed a Mexico driver's license. Granados was arrested, taken to the Archuleta County Jail and charged with DUI. The suspect posted a $750 bond and was released.

 

Public Safety officers won't be firefighters

By Roy Starling

At their August regular monthly meeting, the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association board of directors voted to remove the fire-fighting component from the duties of their Public Safety officers.

Pending analysis of further information and feedback from property owners, the board may also eliminate their officers' emergency medical technician status.

Public Safety committee co-chairman John Nelson said that Pagosa Fire Protection District Chief Warren Grams has asked that PSO officers return their equipment so their positions can be filled by six other volunteers who could devote more time to the district. Director Nelson said the officers would still respond to fires in the Fairfield Pagosa subdivisions as part of their "first responder" status.

Director Judy Esterly moved that "we remove the qualification of firefighter from our description of Public Safety officers," and, following a second by Director Fred Ebeling, the motion passed unanimously.

Nelson then told the property owners that the board is considering also lifting the EMT requirement from the PSO officers. One of the primary reasons for that move, should it occur, is that the officers now have to work two shifts a month at the 24-hour EMS facility, in addition to their normal workload with the PLPOA.

Upper San Juan Hospital District executive director Bill Bright told the SUN that when the district "went to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we required two shifts a month from every EMT in order for that program to work. I require that from all my EMTs, and I can't make exceptions (for the PSO officers)."

Bright said the PSO officers are considered part-time EMTs and could therefore fulfill their requirement by one day shift and one night shift or two of either. Shifts for full-time EMTs are 24 hours.

Nelson assured those attending the meeting that the board "would make no changes before gathering an analyzing additional information and bringing the issue to property owners in a public hearing."

No date for the hearing was set, but it would likely be held next month. The next regular monthly meeting will be held Thursday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m., at the Pagosa Lakes Community Center.

 

 

County, Loma Linda Ltd. agree on Eightmile Road

By John M. Motter

An agreement was reached this week between the Archuleta County commissioners and Loma Linda Ltd., represented by Fred Schmidt, which should lead to the rebuilding of a portion of Eightmile Mesa Road.

Work on the road should begin Aug. 25 and be completed by Oct. 15, according to the agreement. Rain has forced postponement of an earlier completion date.

Rebuilding the road is to be a joint effort shared between Schmidt and the county. The portion of the road being rebuilt is located between U.S. 84 and the entrance to Loma Linda, about 8 miles south of town.

The county has replaced culverts under the main road bed. In addition, the county will replace culverts under attached driveways.

Schmidt has agreed to rebuild the main road bed to county specifications, eliminating some dangerous dips and curves. Schmidt has also agreed to supply fencing materials which will be installed by property owners Dick Ray and Jack Adams. New fencing is needed because the road right of way is being widened.

Schmidt hired U-Can-Afford Landscaping to do the work at a cost of $92,350. That amount is being placed in escrow by Schmidt, who has also assigned the contract with U-Can-Afford Landscaping to the county.

Archuleta County and Schmidt are sharing equally the cost of a performance bond.

If and when work on the road is completed satisfactorily, it will signal the end of a process begun in 1986-87. The original agreement from the late '80s expired in 1995.

Meanwhile, the county has a lawsuit in progress against Schmidt to ensure completion of the work.

 

Sales taxes through July up 6.72 percent from '98

By John M. Motter

Sales taxes collected in Archuleta County through July of 1999 are up 6.72 percent when compared with the same months of 1998.

Many economic experts regard sales tax collections as a good measure of the health of an economy. This year's sales tax collections should be the highest in the history of Archuleta County, since the 6.72 percent increase is well above last year's record-setting pace.

July collections of $419,459 raised the 1999 collection total to $2,207,225, well above the $1,963,958 collected through July of 1998. July is the first month this year a monthly total has topped the $400,000 mark. Only during October of last year, when $450,999 was collected, was the $400,000 mark topped during 1998.

Sales taxes collected in Archuleta County are divided equally between the county and the town. So far this year, the county has received $1,103,613. Of that amount, $441,446 has been placed in the general fund, $110,361 in the road and bridge fund and $551,806 in the road improvement fund.

The town places all of its sales tax receipts, $1,103,613 so far this year, in a capital improvements fund.

A maximum sales tax levy of 7 percent is allowed in Colorado. The state has a 3 percent sales tax levy. In Archuleta County, the remaining 4 percent is divided equally between the county and the town.

 

Editorials

Protecting the future

County Commissioners Gene Crabtree, Bill Downey and Ken Fox are to be commended for sticking to their guns and protecting the best interests of the citizens of Archuleta County.

I hope I am not speaking too soon, but it appears the long-time issue of protecting the safety of motorists and pedestrians on Eightmile Mesa Road is finally being resolved to the satisfaction of the county and the developer of Loma Linda Subdivision. It took a locked gate across a proscriptive public right of way, followed by almost 15 years of extended agreements, defaulted agreements, threatened lawsuits and a pending lawsuit; but apparently corrective measures will finally be made to improve the conditions of a portion of Eightmile Mesa Road.

I can understand why the developers of the proposed Timber Ridge Subdivision are frustrated that were denied an exemption in the county's subdivision process, but the commissioners owe it to themselves and their successors to see that the county's current subdivision regulations are complied with.

Current developers might think it unfair that today's regulations are based on problems from the past, especially when many of the problems resulted from the county's inexperience with the subdivision process or from good intentions of past commissioners and developers.

But it would be even more unfair to the citizens or to future county officials, if today's county commissioners ignored the problems of the past and ran the risk of enabling a new set of unexpected problems to occur.

Because of the many development-related problems that have surfaced in this county during the past 10 to 15 years, it's obvious that having restrictive regulations to protect the public interest are of little or no value if the applicable public officials are slack at fulfilling their responsibilities of enforcing the regulations.

David C. Mitchell

Dear Folks

By David C. Mitchell

My Monday morning memories

Dear Folks,

Monday brought to mind some enjoyable memories from 25 years ago.

I didn't wake up until about 6:30 Monday morning, and didn't leave for work until around 8. But I knew that to many families and youngsters in Pagosa, Monday was the first day of two-a-day practices for football.

Twenty-five years ago marked my first year as the head coach of the Pagosa Pirates. The players reported for practice at 6:30 a.m. Along with cleats, they reported with sleeping bags, pillows tooth brushes, towels and enough clothes to make it through the week. They were reporting to camp.

During his tenure as head coach at Pagosa, Ron Shaw had instituted the concept of holding a football camp at the high school during the one week of two-a-day practices. The players and coaches slept in the old high school's cafeteria.

The morning started with the players running up and around Reservoir Hill. Then the coaches and players jogged through town and up Put Hill to the elementary school cafeteria for breakfast.

Some of the coaches' wives and players' mothers prepared the meals.

After breakfast, we all walked back down to the school for chalk talks. The classroom sessions were followed by morning practices on the old football field down across from Town Park.

Showers and lunch followed the morning practice. Lunch and supper were eaten in the high school cafeteria.

Following lunch it was time to rest. After all, coaches need their rest.

Then it was more classroom sessions. Then back down to the field for the afternoon practice.

Since cleanliness is next to smelling good, showers followed the second practice. Then it was time for supper.

After supper we cleaned up the cafeteria and rolled out our sleeping bags for another night on the floor.

I don't know about the players, but by the time Saturday's second practice was over and we broke camp with a potluck supper for the players and their parents, I was about dead.

Looking back, it was a great time. I'm not sure about the players, but I enjoyed the new experience.

I loved watching the seniors - Leroy Lattin, Richard LaVarta, Terry Branson, Jack Eaklor, Pat Candelaria, Joey Bell and the late John Joe Madril - start realizing they were the ones the younger players would be counting on for leadership.

Everything in Pagosa was smaller 25 years ago. The town, the school, the players . . . the coaches. As a mater of fact, even the football field was smaller.

One of my duties was lining the field before the home games. So the Saturday morning before our game with Sanford, I started marking off the field and was surprised to find that it was only 50-yards wide rather than the regulation 53 yards. And the west endzone was only 9-yards deep rather than 10 because of an embankment and cluster of willows on where the northwest corner of the endzone should have been.

In time, I came to appreciate the arch of ground that lay just beyond the west endzone. This area was the unofficial field where the "Pirates of Tomorrow" from the elementary school played their sandlot games during the pre-game warmups and halftime intermissions. They had some enthusiastic games with countless spectactular plays.

More than once during the past few years, I've wished was back at the high school - the high school of 1974. And I'm sure a lot of other folks have wished I was somewhere else rather than at this editor's desk. But I'm thankful for the past. I'm enjoying the present and I'm looking forward to the future.

Know you are loved and please keep us in your prayers. David

Community News

Local Chatter

By Kate Terry

Kate gets humor from four corners

Contributed humor: It comes from the North, from the South, from the East, and from the West. Enjoy!

Little Johnny's new baby brother was screaming up a storm. He asked his mom, "Where did we get him?"

His mother said, "Heaven, Johnny."

Johnny said, "I can see why they threw him out."

A nearsighted minister glanced at the note that Mrs. Jones had sent to him by an usher.

The note read: "Bill Jones having gone to sea, his wife desires the prayers of the congregation for his safety."

Failing to observe the punctuation, he startled his audience by announcing: Bill Jones, having gone to see his wife, desires the prayers for his safety.

A little boy walked up to the librarian to check out a book entitled "Comprehensive Guide for Mothers."

When the librarian asked him if it was for his mother, he answered no.

"Then why are you checking it out?"

"Because," said the boy, beaming from ear to ear, "I just started collecting moths last month."

During an Army game, a commanding officer's jeep got stuck in the mud. The C.O. saw some men lounging around nearby, and asked them to help him get unstuck.

"Sorry sir," said one of the loafers, "but we've been classified as dead and the umpire said we couldn't contribute in any way."

The C.O. turned to the driver and said, "Go drag a couple of those dead bodies over here and throw them under the wheels to give us some traction."

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat are really good friends.

A lawyer was reading out the will of a rich man to his family: "To you, my loving wife Rose, who stood by me in rough times, as well as good, I leave her the house and $2 million."

The lawyer continued, "To my daughter Jessica, who looked after me in sickness and kept the business going, I leave her the yacht, the business and $1 million."

And the lawyer concluded. "And to my cousin Dan, who hated me, argued with me, and thought that I would never mention him in my will - well, you are wrong. Hi, Dan!"

She was on trial for having shot her husband. She'd even been discovered with the smoking gun in her hand. During his summation, her lawyer pleaded for mercy on the basis that the lady was now a widow.

A lawyer soliciting a potential client told the man he got his last three clients suspended. What he didn't mention was that they were all hung.

The mother of three notoriously unruly youngsters was asked whether or not she'd had children if she had to do it again.

"Sure - but not the same ones."

Fun on the run

From the October/November 1998 "The Family Tree," these are letters received by the Dolores, Colorado Welfare Department.

"I am forwarding my marriage certificate and six children. I have seven, but one died which was baptized on a sheet of paper."

"I am writing the welfare department to say that my baby was born two years old. When do I get my money?"

"Mrs. Jones had not had any clothes for a year and has been visited regularly by the clergy."

"I cannot get sick pay. I have six children. Can you tell me why?"

"This is my eighth child. What are you going to do about it?"

"I am glad to report that my husband who is missing is dead."

"Please find out for certain if my husband is dead. The man I am now living with can't eat or sleep until he knows."

"I am very annoyed to find that you have branded my child illiterate. This is a dirty lie as I was married a week before he was born."

"In answer to your letter I have given birth to a boy weighing ten pounds. I hope this is satisfactory."

"I am forwarding my certificate and my three children. One of which is a mistake as you can see."

"My husband got his project cut off two weeks ago and I haven't had any relief since."

"You have changed my little boy to a girl. Will this make a difference?"

"I have no children as yet, as my husband is a truck driver and works day and night."

"In accordance to your instructions, I have given birth to twins in the enclosed envelope."

"I want my money as quick as I can get it. I have been in bed with the doctor for two weeks and he couldn't do me any good. If things don't improve, I will have to send for another doctor."

 

Chamber News

By Sally Hameister

News flash: no new Chamber members

I'm obviously spoiled rotten - this is the first week in many that I haven't had a new member to introduce, so I'm truly heartbroken. I have made several calls lately and expect that some of those folks will soon be in with membership forms in hand. Until then, we'll just have to do the Maytag repair man thing and just hang out and wait for someone, anyone to call. You're out there playing that violin in your head, aren't you?

Mountain Harmony

My thanks to Connie Glover and all the Mountain Harmony ladies who performed so beautifully Friday night with their gospel program. They were magnificent, as always, and so innovative giving new life to some wonderful old favorites. We are lucky indeed to have such talent right here in Pagosa Springs and luckier still that they are so generous with their gifts. Thanks, ladies.

Newsletter inserts

If you haven't already done so, please bring us your flyers for inclusion in the Chamber Communiqué by Friday, Aug. 27. Just in case you haven't heard about this terrific marketing opportunity, it's very simple and very inexpensive. Just bring us 650 copies of your 8 1/2" x 11" flyers (unfolded, please) and a check for $25 and we'll take it from there. There really isn't a better way to get the word out about your product, a new business, a one-time-only special or a new business location. You are guaranteed that your message will reach over 640 Chamber of Commerce members through the newsletter and that is a guarantee you won't get every day. The newsletter will be mailed sometime during the first week of September, and you can call Morna with questions at 264-2360.

Wild September

It seems we always talk in terms of how busy our summers are here in Pagosa and lordy, lordy so they are, but we can't forget the fantastic, frenetic fall coming up in short order.

Yep, I'm looking at the calendar and what I see is a September filled with some downright huge events and I would suggest that you mark a date or two right now. The fourth annual Folk Festival (do you believe this is the fourth?) takes place on Reservoir Hill on Saturday, Sept. 4, and Sunday, Sept. 5, and the lineup is the strongest yet. If you've never attended, this is a must-do in Pagosa Springs for a number of reasons. The music is outrageously excellent and eclectic, and there is truly something for everyone to include our Telluride award-winning Pagosa Hot Strings. Trust me, the day is coming when we will say with great pride that we "knew them back when" before they become rich and famous. Tim O'Brien and Chris Brashear, Druha Trava, Alison Brown and Nickel Creek are among the outstanding musicians who will entertain us along with many others.

What I enjoy so much is the energy of this event and the constant activity. There are vendors, food, drink and retail and the people watching are the best in the world. Workshops with the various musicians will be offered throughout the festival beginning on Friday evening through Sunday. A program called "Four Corners Kids" will present free activities for kids 7 and over offering arts and crafts, face painting, story telling and special performances by Nickel Creek, the Pagosa Hot Strings and the Schankman Twins. Tickets are available at the Chamber and I would encourage you to buy yours as soon as possible because they are flying out the door at an alarming rate. The Chamber of Commerce staff, Board Directors and friends man the festival sales booth and will have a lot of irresistible offerings for you this year - come by and see us.

Sidewalk sale

Letters have been sent to all Chamber member merchants and Suellen has been out delivering the posters, which means that the third annual Sidewalk Saturday Sale is official.

We came upon this idea three years ago and have had such a good response, we just have to keep up the tradition. In conjunction with The Four Corners Folk Festival, all member merchants are encouraged to offer a Sidewalk Sale on Saturday, Sept. 4, to capitalize upon the considerable number of potential customers who are in town for the weekend. Since just about everyone finds sidewalk sales irresistible, we also feel this event stops folks who might just be passing through over the weekend. At any rate, we encourage you to take part in the sale by just putting a table and maybe a rack or two of merchandise out in front of your store and let the fun begin. It's strictly your choice, of course, but the more businesses that participate, the better the draw for everyone. If you have questions, just give us a call at 264-2360.

SunDowner

Wednesday, Aug. 25, is one whale of a SunDowner that is sure to be extremely well attended. You'll want to be there.

The Spring Inn hosts this August Chamber party and offers a free soak in one of their 15 pools, three of which are brand new. This will give everyone in town a chance to view the new additions and sample the new tubs. Invitations go out at the end of this week, so look for yours in the mail. As always, the five buckaroos at the door will cover the food, drinks and in this case, a soak in the tubs. We will look forward to seeing you at The Spring Inn next Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m.

Remember to bring along another fiver to enter the "Five Minutes of Fame" drawing. Small price to pay for a chance to share five minutes of the Chamber "Good Morning, Pagosa" show presented every Wednesday morning at 8:05 by KWUF AM 1400. Don Stubbs and I have a blast discussing upcoming Chamber events, new members and just about anything that's happening in Pagosa. Oddly enough, the show has a great listenership, so lots of folks will hear about you and your business if you win the drawing. We hope to see you all at the SunDowner next Wednesday evening at The Spring Inn. If you can't make it, I'll let you explain why to Stan the Man - 'nuf said?

Colorfest

You'll be hearing a lot about this incredible fall event, but mark your calendars for Sept. 17, 18 and 19 to enjoy all the activities of our annual Balloon Rally/Colorfest weekend.

We've been working on this for several months now (Liz and Mike Marchand have been working on it since last year) and have some wonderful things in store for you. The wine and cheese tasting this year is entitled "An Evening in Black, White and Red All Over" - just add a touch of red to the black and white ensemble you've worn the past two years and you're good to go. I will stress once again that there is nothing formal about this evening unless you want it to be. We have seen a tux or two but that was strictly a personal decision to do so. We want you to be comfortable. Also remember that this event acts as the Pilots' Reception, so you have the opportunity to meet and greet all those wonderful people who entertain us so magnificently the next two mornings.

There will be two mass balloon ascensions- one on Saturday morning and one on Sunday morning - a Colorfest Community Picnic in Town Park on Saturday evening with a concert by our own Badly Bent and a Balloon Glow at dusk with an unprecedented number of balloons taking part. Much more on all of this later, but I do want you to go to your calendar right now and mark this weekend so you won't miss a minute of it.

 

Pagosa Lakes

By Ming Steen

Anderson, Deitz winners in High-Tri Triathlon

Last Saturday's eighth annual Pagosa Lakes High-Tri Triathlon - a 7.2-mile run, 14.4-mile mountain bike ride and a half-mile swim - was a great success. Persistent rain the past three weeks had created deep gullies and exposed numerous rocks on the Martinez Canyon trail. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the rain stopped, allowing the mud to firm up. Trail conditions on Saturday morning were fabulous for the triathletes.

This triathlon attracted a record number of out-of-town triathletes. Although most of them were Coloradans, we did have a man from Germany who was in town visiting Bob Kimber and Shonny Vanlandingham. Visiting participants commented on the friendly, family-oriented nature of the event and the beauty of the triathlon course. The course includes some single-track trail with a couple of technical spots, some woods, some open meadow, some gravel roads and some asphalt.

Our local athletes enjoyed the opportunity to pit their athleticism against other participants, particularly the unknown competition from outside of Pagosa. There is, in general, a good sense of everyone being there to share the day with each other. Runners or bikers will sometimes go side by side so they can chit-chat along the route. Enjoyment is partly enhanced by a low stress, not highly competitive, attitude of organizers and participants. Additionally, because runners and bikers share a common course, they see each other more often. Since the swimming is at the end, all of the completed competitors can witness, encourage and share the excitement of the final leg of the other competitors race.

In the men's overall division, Scott Anderson, a six-time winner of this particular triathlon, set a personal record this year with a time of 1 hour, 45 minutes and 25 seconds. Greg Sykes, a veteran of triathlons at the national level, placed second with a time 1:54.23. Following in third place was Bob Kimber with 1:54.52 seconds - an excitingly close finish behind Sykes.

In the women's overall division, Emily Deitz crossed the finish line with a strong 2:15.25, beating her time from last year by 10 minutes. Last year's bike segment of the triathlon was through sucking mud. Deitz was followed by Christine Holbrook of Gunnison, who finished in 2:15.52. Miki Ellis came in third with a 2:36.44.

In team competition, Kim Eggert, Brian Dameworth and Greg Brumley from Creede topped the field with a 1:42.43. A New Mexico team of Eric Souther, Wilbert Nakai and Brian Benfield finished in second place at 1:43.40. A Pagosa team of Joe Gilbert, Natalie Koch and Mike Clinton, placed third with a time of 1:49.20.

It was a good triathlon - a fantastic success for the smiling, dehydrated athletes at the end who were wondering how much more they had left to give. Everyone was applauded, not just those finishing first.

Many volunteers offered encouragement and logistical support the entire morning. These volunteers gave form, order and direction to the event. A huge thank you to Jack Ellis, Andrew Pimental, Mariah Reiser, Monica Pimental, Rachel Martinez, Carol Anderson, Tom Steen, Charla Ellis, Betty Reynolds, Debra Kelly, Tonya Rogers, Erna Bone, Judy Meyer, Muriel Buckley and Sam Martinez.

The triathlon organizers had also tirelessly stumped for support among sponsors. Their efforts were rewarded with numerous and generous donations from local businesses such as Bike and Glide, Goodman's Department Store, Harmony Works, Hogs Breath Saloon, Home Again, Irish Rose Cafe, Isabel's Restaurant, Juan's Mountain Sports, Las Montanas Restaurant, Liberty Theatre, Log Park, Moonlight Books, Pagosa Chiropractic, The Pie Shoppe, Andrew Pimental - Personal Trainer, Ponderosa Do It Best, Texaco, Ross Landscaping, Ski and Bow Rack, Spring Inn, Summit Ski and Sports, Switchback and Sideline Sports, Jann Vandercook - Massage Therapist, Wildflour Bakery and Wolf Tracks.

A very special thanks also goes to the PLPOA directors for their continued support of the Pagosa Lakes High-Tri.

Jean Carson, who coordinates the highway clean-up effort for the San Juan Outdoor Club, had 21 hard-working volunteers turn out on July 29 to clean-up a 2-mile stretch of U.S. 160 (milepost 137 to 139 west of the town limit sign). At the end of a hard morning's work, the "trash busters" were fatigued but not so that they weren't ready to commit to another clean-up effort in the fall. The fall clean-up has been scheduled for Sept. 30 and if you are willing and able to help, Jean could sure use some extra hands. Call her at 731-3478. Colorado Division of Transportation will be erecting a sign acknowledging the volunteer effort of the San Juan Outdoor Club. The San Juan Outdoor Club wishes to thank McDonald's for its generosity and support.

 

Senior News

By Dennis Martinez

Seniors hold summer's final picnic tomorrow

In last week's "Senior Citizens News," the wrong phone number was listed for Archuleta County Transit System. The correct number is 264-2250. The office is located in the Senior Center at 475 Zuni and South Eighth streets. The number for Archuleta County Senior Citizens Center is 264-2167.

The Archuleta County Transit System provides rides to the center, meals on wheels to shut-ins, weekly trips to Durango for medical appointments and recreational trips like the "garage sale" trip on Aug. 28, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Call for pick-up or more information. Operating funds are provided by the Area Agency on Aging, United Way, Archuleta County, the town of Pagosa Springs and local donations. P.S. We love you.

Marge Mountain, who is just as beautiful as the mountains around us, is our "Senior of the Week."

Special thanks to last week's volunteers: June Nelson, George Ziegler, Lydia Martinez, Lilly Gurule, Jo Rose and Kurt Killion.

The Bar-D Chuckwagon trip is Aug. 26. It's an experience you won't forget, so sign up now or call for R.S.V.P.

Tomorrow is the last "Picnic in the Park" of the summer, so be prepared to relocate if it rains all day today. Wet ground and chilly conditions are unsafe for walkers and wheel chairs, so pray for sunshine, safe travel.

Predicting the future is difficult and it's impossible to envision every possible scenario, but just thinking about some scenarios may help you decide if you need a long-term insurance policy, how much insurance you need and which one best fits your needs.

We have a guide to long-term care insurance provided by AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). This brochure is part of a comprehensive consumer education effort to help people become better informed about planning for long-term care.

It is designed to help you evaluate your needs and decide whether long-term care insurance will help address those needs. AARP is the nation's leading organization for people age 50 and over. It serves their needs and interests through legislative advocacy, research, informative programs and community services provided by a network of local chapters and experienced volunteers throughout the country.

We hope it will be useful to you in making important decisions and help you become a better consumer. Single copies of this publication are available from AARP Fulfillment, 601 E. Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20049.

The Colorado Division of Insurance gratefully acknowledges the funding from the Health Care Financing Administration for its counseling and assistance program, which has made these programs possible. You can call toll free to Colorado Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program at (800) 544-9181 or on their website Central Health Care Insurance Counseling for Seniors www.medicare.gov.

 

Library News

by Lenore Bright

Identify baby pictures, win prize

Thanks to Mary for putting up our latest display. We have the baby pictures of some staff, volunteers, friends and board members. Come enter our contest. How many can you pick out? Winner gets a prize.

Public lands

Current information on back-country road, trail and campground conditions in Southwest Colorado is now available on the web at http://www.fs.fed.us./srnf/

According to the Southwest Public Lands newsletter, volunteers have unearthed more than 40 prehistoric sites in a high elevation area of the San Juan National Forest near the Piedra River. The artifacts indicate that prehistoric people came to hunt and gather in the San Juan Mountains.

The volunteers are part of the "Passports in Time" program which plans to survey some 5,000 acres between 7,000 and 11,000 feet in elevation. A copy of the newsletter is available at the desk.

Durango Theatre

While we're waiting around for our local thespians to produce another play or musical, please don't forget the talent in the Durango Repertory Theatre Company. Their season begins Sept. 18 with a Preview Night fundraiser. The new theater at 802 East Second Avenue is comfortable and has easy parking and access. I'm especially proud of them as three of our system librarians serve on the board. Pick up a copy of their 1999-2000 season with information about the productions and membership.

Special education

We have a copy of the Colorado Department of Education newsletter for parents of children with disabilities. There is a list of consultants' names and phone numbers. There are also new regulations concerning the alignment of the state rules with federal requirements for high school graduation. Anyone interested in this subject might wish to be on the mailing list.

Foundation help

Another web site for information on learning differences is www.schwablearning.org and the toll-free phone is 1-800-230-0988. Charles Schwab, who had a life-long struggle with dyslexia, founded this foundation. His son inherited the reading difficulty.

The Foundation attempts to equip parents, teachers and other professionals with the resources to improve the lives of students with learning differences.

Energy conservation

There is a free energy saving partners program that provides free home weatherization services year-round to eligible low-income senior or physically challenged Coloradans. If you qualify, a technician will do an energy audit and incorporate ways to make your home more energy efficient. Services may include tuning up or repairing the furnace or hot water heater. Act now as there is a waiting list during the fall and winter months. Call 1-888-432-8546 for more information.

Donations

Thanks for materials from Liz Morris, Darla Maclean, Lynne Toepfer, Carol Fulenwider, Pris Severn, Josh Yager, Carolle Hunt Ash, Tim and Sue Iverson, Medora Bass, Lou West, Mary Alice Behrents, Shirley Snider, Dr. A. V. Dohner, Barbara Lindley, Peter Marritt, Gary McNaughton and Carol Hakula.

Arts Line

By Jan Brookshier

Nature of hte Seasons' opens

You're invited to join us this evening, Aug. 19, at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council gallery in Town Park, for the much anticipated opening and reception of Bruce Andersen and Don Craigen's "Nature of the Seasons."

This two-man show is best described as an exploration of nature throughout the seasons via creative metal sculpture and splendid photography.

Bruce has published photographic works in magazines, newspapers, public slide shows, in books and on the Internet. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the 1999 "Best of Show" award at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council photo contest earlier this year. As for Bruce's exhibit, he will unveil his new large format photo canvases, as well as a display of archival museum prints he is famous for.

On the other hand, Don Craigen, having returned recently from a very successful (sold out) show in Santa Fe, will offer new works of metal sculpture, designed especially for Pagosa Springs.

It all starts tonight from 5 to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be provided free of charge. "Nature of the Seasons" can be seen at the gallery through Sept. 1.

Artists

On Sunday, Aug. 22, from noon to 5 p.m., the PSAC and Golden Eagle Lodge will sponsor a fun-filled afternoon, with food, furniture and, of course, fine art. Participating artists include Denny Rose, Annalisa and Steven Hodgkins, Laura Winzler, Candace Resnick, Kate Petley, Ross Barrable, Jan Brookshier and more. Ten percent of all proceeds will be generously donated to the PSAC.

For more information, call the gallery at 264-5020 or Golden Eagle Lodge at 264-4285.

Studio Tour

A huge "thank you" to Marti Capling for the successful organization and tremendous amount of work involved in preparing for the first-ever artists' studio tour here in Pagosa. The tour was held last Saturday and totaled 12 studios and 15 artists.

Thanks to all the artists and volunteers that made this such a terrific event. The elite include, but are not limited to, Kathleen Pulciani, Doris Green, Jeanne Payne, Sue Tripp, Gerda Witkamp, Clare Burns, Vicki Kimble, Jeff Laydon and Joanne Haliday.

Special announcements

The Cimarrona Gallery, located at 302 Pagosa Street, will only be open through Sept. 1. The gallery features beautiful clay pottery, dinnerware, fine sculpture and mesmerizing photography. Don't miss their "Moving On" sale happening now.

The PSAC gallery and gift shop is located in Town Park just south of the stoplight. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. At no cost to you, this is a great place to come, to enlighten and inspire your artistic senses.

 

Features

Movie Review

By Roy Starling

Something wicked in the woods

This weekend I traveled to a nearby mini-metropolitan area to see "The Blair Witch Project" to find out if it lived up to all of its glowing reviews, and I went to a theater near me to watch "The Haunting" because that's one of the few things to do in Pagosa when the sun goes down, at night, when it gets dark.

I have three pieces of good news: 1. "Blair Witch" was even better than I expected, creeping me into the middle of next week. 2. Word on the street has it that every effort is being made to bring it to a theater very near you. 3. The popcorn at "The Haunting" was delicious.

"The Haunting" itself, however, left a little to be desired. It's a loud, high-tech movie with recognizable cast members and special effects that anthropomorphize a huge mansion, that is, give it human characteristics such as belching and the urge to kill. "Blair Witch," written and directed by newcomers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, is a quiet film with no soundtrack and no "name" actors made for a few thousand dollars.

Yet "Blair Witch" has pulled in over $80 million at the box office while "Haunting" is evoking more yawns than screams. Here's why: "The Haunting," while it does have a few chilling moments, tends to be full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, using spooky noises and ghastly images to cover up holes in the story. You'd be better off watching the original 1963 version starring Julie Harris.

"Blair Witch Project," on the other hand, does everything right. For one thing, it combines hyperrealistic filmmaking with a supernatural subject, and this is especially unnerving and unsettling to a film audience.

Films that aren't consciously fictional and that are allegedly just trying to record the facts are documentaries, and that's what "Blair Witch" pretends to be. (But since it's only pretending, it would more accurately be called a mockumentary.) The film we're watching has allegedly been discovered buried beneath a 100-year-old cabin, and it's all that remains of the efforts of three cynical clear-headed Generation X'ers' attempt, in 1994, to debunk the myth of the Blair Witch in Burkittsville, Md.

So we know from the beginning that these poor kids didn't survive their expedition into the Maryland woods, but as we watch the film, they become so real, so human, so endearing, that we can't help but believe (and hope) that somehow they got out of this mess alive.

Myrick and Sanchez also manage to tap into our deeply embedded and almost lost fear of the dark forest - the same phobia that makes fairy tales so creepy to us when we were children. (In "Blair Witch," the documentary director - Heather - wryly comments that "This can't be happening in America. We've already destroyed all our natural resources.")

After (or before) you get beyond the "fact" that dark forests are comprised chiefly of dirt, weeds and trees, their presence conjures up all kinds of hobgoblins in the mind. Human beings thrive on order and predictability, and forests, especially without a map, can be utter chaos. The woods - what's left of them - are what we haven't tamed or civilized yet. They're not our home, and when we visit there, we're not especially welcome. The forest belongs to . . . who knows?

Whoever composed many of the fairy tales that wound up in the Brothers Grimm collection also knew that dark forests represent that still unseen, uncharted next stage of our lives, a frightening place where anything, good or bad, could happen, and could catch us completely off guard.

The forest can also represent any time or place where we feel completely disoriented and vulnerable, where we're not sure which direction leads us out, where every step we take seems to be a misstep, where we feel out of control and victimized.

All of those images rush to the forefront of our minds as we watch "Blair Witch," and our popcorn lodges in our throats.

Myrick and Sanchez know something else. Terror resides in what we can't see. Spurred by mysterious sounds in the dark, the imagination can create more terrifying monsters than any highly paid team of special effects artists. In "Blair Witch," we hear the sounds that frighten the three young filmmakers, but we don't hear them clearly enough to identify them. Then we hear something even worse: the sounds frightened people make, especially when those sounds come from people we've come to care for.

According to a marketing slogan for "The Haunting," some houses are "born bad." But the house in that movie appears to have been born rich, then made bad by special effects. There's a house in "Blair Witch" that makes the Bates Motel look like Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. An old house in the woods, abandoned by human life, crumbling, deteriorating, rotting in the eerie forests of the night . . . well, that just makes my skin crawl.

Two cautionary notes: Anyone who takes young children into "Blair Witch" should be reported to the proper authorities. Also, since all the footage is shot with hand-held cameras, there is a serious herky-jerky factor, and it has caused many a viewer to toss his or her grits, that is, to throw up. This unpleasantness can be avoided by occasionally looking at the theater walls.

Periodically in this column, I whine about the lack of fresh, original, intelligent, creative movies. With the release of "Blair Witch," I can shut up for a while. I can assure you you've never seen a movie like this. It's easily the best film I've seen this year and the scariest since I first saw "Psycho" when I was about 12. And, yes, in case you're wondering, it's even scarier than Rock Hudson and Doris Day in "Pillow Talk."

So for all you folks headed out into the woods this weekend: Happy camping! And keep those cameras rolling.

 

Old Timers

By John M. Motter

Nine decades in Pagosa Springs

Born during 1908 in a modest home just south of Five Mile Mesa (that's the hill U.S. 84 crosses just south of Echo Lake), Velma Wood has lived in her current home on Hermosa Street for about 60 years. She'll spend her August birthday celebrating with kid brother Herb and other family members. Herb is a mere 84 years old.

For the most part, Velma's past is just that - past. Throughout her 91 years she's wrestled and struggled and scrapped with whatever circumstances presented themselves on any particular day.

"What happened years ago is gone and forgotten," Velma says. "All of my life I've mostly just taken care of business."

Velma and Herb's parents, George Earl and Josie Bell Shaffer Kingsley, traveled by train from Pennsylvania to Pagosa Springs, arriving in 1901. Married in August of 1900, they'd heard about the wonders of Pagosa Country from the Miniums, a family they'd known in Pennsylvania who had been in Pagosa Country since 1895.

The young family homesteaded a piece of property next to the Miniums and just down the valley from today's Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park. During the early days, George Earl raised cattle, grain, and operated a sawmill with a partner named Ed Rust.

Babies arrived frequently at the Kingsley home. When they stopped counting there were 10: Homer, John, Frank, Velma, Bill, Harold, Gertie, Herb, Dophe, and Bud. Only Velma, Herb, and Dophe survive.

Dr. Allen Judd Nossaman was the family doctor. Most babies were delivered at the family home and the Kingsley children were no exception. Midwives often helped. When Velma was born, Mrs. Sophia LaVarta was the midwife.

Life was hard and cash scarce, the way Velma and Herb remember things. The kids only got to town two or three times a year. Lots of chores filled daylight hours back at the ranch. There was no electricity. The Kingsleys had a well, but the water was hard and unfit for drinking or cooking. Consequently, water was hauled from town about once a week, carried in five or 10-gallon milk cans.

Someone had to tend the garden and the livestock and get wood and make sure all of the other chores were done. Clothes were washed on a rub board, food cooked on a wood-burning range, baths taken in a portable tin bath tub, and light furnished from gasoline lanterns or kerosene lamps.

Recreation consisted of riding sleds during the winter and visiting friends year around. Musicians played at the home parties and neighbor danced with neighbor. Some of the musicians were fiddler Tony Sorenson, Walt Curs on the banjo, Ada Baker on the piano, and later, Bill Diestlekamp on the drums.

Otto Snow ran the "Bucket of Blood," a slang name for the old Piedra school house, which later served as a grange hall. Frequent dances were held at "The Bucket of Blood." The name was applied because alcohol, some of it bootleg, flowed freely outside and fights were regular.

"Families used to picnic a lot," Herb recalls. "We'd go to the Upper Blanco Basin, just find a place by the river and in the shade."

Besides fried chicken, picnics meant horseshoes and baseball games and other innocent fun.

Velma and Herb attended the Echo School through the 8th grade, then entered the work force. The Echo school building was constructed of concrete blocks supplied by Olaf Jacobson and stood in the right of way where U.S. 84 passes east of Echo Lake.

"In those days, it wasn't so important to keep going to school," Herb said. "Later, when I went to work for the state highway department, I needed a high school diploma. I got a GED diploma."

Herb worked for the state highway department 30 years, retiring in 1972. He then worked another 12 years as maintenance man at the high school before retiring for good.

Velma worked at whatever job she could find, mostly restaurants and several years at Jackisch Drug. Her husband, Chuck Woods, worked at the post office. Chuck passed away in 1976. She and Chuck had two daughters, Charlotte and Cleda. Charlotte passed away three years ago. Velma has four grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.

Herb's wife, Laura Wood, was the sister of Velma's husband. She passed away in 1997. They had two children, Alma and Zelma. Herb has five grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.

Velma and Herb's life goes back to a time before automobiles became a way of life. The first family auto was probably a 1912 Hupmobile purchased by their dad from Luke Rock, the man who delivered a glass quart of milk to people's homes for a nickel. Later cars were a Buick and finally a 1937 Ford pickup.

"When it rained, you didn't drive to town," Herb said. "You hooked up a team and wagon. The roads were too muddy for vehicles."

Shopping was done at Hersch's drygood and grocery store, or at the Joy Grocery store.

"Dave Hersch helped me a lot," Herb says, "especially financially. Then there were Fred and Harvey Catchpole and Jim Morehead and George Alley Sr."

"The station agent (Pagosa and Northern Railroad), Rex DeWeese, was a good friend of my dad's" Herb said. "They used to fish together all over the county."

In those days, into the mid-1930s, a daily train still chugged between Pagosa Junction and Pagosa Springs. The turntable where the train turned around was located about where the downtown City Market is today.

Many of the highways in the county followed different routes. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt's depression-era highway program during the 1930s led to re-routing many of the major highways including much of U.S. 84 south of town, and U.S. 160 both east and west of town.

Velma moved into her current home on Hermosa Street in "The Park" during 1939.

"The Depression was going on," she remembers. "It was more of a shelter than a house. We did what we could, but the improvements didn't come too fast."

Some neighbors Velma remembers from the "The Park" are Walt Curs who had the place owned for years by "Tuffy" George, Guy Cotton, Emmett Martinez, Earl Lattin, Grandma Dunne, Joe Chambers, Lee and Vivian Flaugh, the Skutviks, Carl and Felima Gardner, the Maestas and Quintana families, O.L. Sanders, and Kenneth Day.

The most noticeable differences between the old days and today center around today's affluence, according to Velma and Herb.

"I don't think we're as happy today as we were then," Herb said. "We make and have more money now and we have more conveniences, but we're living a faster pace."

"In those days we had to dig more," Velma said. "We learned to be content with what we had. Neighbor helped neighbor and we didn't expect so much from life."

Ninety-one years for Velma and still counting. Ninety-one years gone, but not forgotten. Velma is still taking care of business.

 

Letters
Same old saga

Dear Editor,

I feel compelled to respond to Gil Johnson's letter in the Aug. 12 SUN. It brought a bit of nostalgia for me. It has been many years ago now since I heard almost word for word Johnson's dissertation on the glories of capitalistic competition added to a small portion of Horatio Alger.

This same story was frequently scripted for me, by corporate management, to use in making very meager offers of increased pay and benefits to various employee groups in the course of labor negotiations.

The employees all knew that the unspoken translation was: "Shut up, be happy that you have a job at all, or are allowed to participate in the great endeavor (you could easily be replaced), quit complaining, and gratefully accept the generous offer being made by the corporation (unearned of course), and get back to work subsidizing this venture for the benefit of (corporate founder, CEO, major stock holder . . .)."

I wish that Mr. Johnson could have made his "this is America pitch" to one of those employee groups. The responses I often got ranged all the way from "Quit with the fairy tales" to some that were much more pithy. I will admit that in all the years I negotiated labor contracts I never found a way to invoke the 14th Amendment.

I came to have great respect for those employee groups and their leaders, and for their wisdom, common sense and forthrightness. I did not have the guts to suggest that our service men had died for the legal right to plunder and enjoy conspicuous consumption. At that time most of the employees were veterans of World War II or Korea, or maybe both, as was I.

I will admit that I have not seen "Saving Private Ryan." This is a matter of choice on my part. I had the duty? honor? privilege? to represent my friends and neighbors, per my draft board, as a member of the original cast of World War II. I was even invited back to be a part of the lesser action known as Korea. Since I did not rise above the rank of a company grade officer, I did not move in the circles where they did the big thinking and had warm meals, so perhaps I did not really understand what we were fighting for. My recollection is that in the most uncomfortable times our concerns were for things like dry socks and meals that did not come in a can or a box. In more settled conditions I remember great philosophical discussions to the effect of: It would be great to go home (soon), get a steady job that might pay as much as $5,000 a year, after we put in our time and earned it, get married and have our own home (a 1,000-square-foot mansion) and forget the damned war.

Roy Starling gave very even-handed treatment to the Piano Creek project. However, he did show a weakness that many of us have in acknowledging an emotional tie to one of our last remaining natural areas. Anyone with a practical enterprising eye can see that the area is really only raw material for a successful commercial venture.

It appears that the West is destined to relive this saga over and over, from the days of "salted gold mines," to P.T. Barnum's real-estate development in Denver, to "Summitville," to lesser events such as the old-time "snake oil peddlers" that came to the small towns to "fleece" the less sophisticated rural population.

It is difficult for me to believe that Johnson really thinks that hard work and diligence for a life time will bring a "Piano Creek" level of affluence, absent some intervening windfall. However, if he has the faith in the system he proclaims, I am sure he will be willing to personally indemnify the cost of ecological reclamation or clean-up if our "benefactors" end up relying on another part of the Constitution providing for bankruptcy and leave the bulldozers rusting in the field.

Sincerely,

Glenn Bergmann

Thanks Roy

Dear David,

What a pleasure Roy Starling's Aug. 5 "Creek Review" was to read.

Starling uses the film review, so often the territory of tawdry fluff about hemlines or hair, to demonstrate the powerful connection between art and life. Starling's clean, simple essay left this reader with something to think about through the rest of the week.

Thanks Roy, for bringing your thoughts and eloquence to the pages of our small-town paper.

Carol Feazel

The time is now

Dear Editor,

I recently caught wind of an evil rumor and it's time to apologize to Lucinda Garcia. It doesn't matter where it started. She did not die of AIDS in the clinical sense. She was however aided in her death by a county full of self-serving, lower than slime people who were too busy watching out for their own stuff and precious reputations to hear a call for help. A call to be loved and appreciated.

Lucinda was one of the kindest, sweetest human beings I ever met on this earth. Someone gave me this poem. It's not signed.

"The Time Is Now"

If you are ever going to love me,/ love me now while I can know/ the sweet and tender feelings/ which from true affection flow./ Love me now/ while I am living./ Do not wait until I'm gone/ and then have it chiseled in marble/ sweet words on ice-cold stone./ If you have tender thoughts of me,/ please tell me now./ If you wait until I'm sleeping, never to awaken,/ there will be death between us,/ and I won't hear you then./ So if you love me, even a little bit,/ let me know it while I am living so I can treasure it.

This beautiful woman loved people and their company. With the shape she was in, someone had to keep an eye on her, she wasn't going to stop drinking, but if monitored, kept busy, and made sure to eat four small meals a day, her health would hold. She could even hold a job, I don't think as bartender though.

People would just brush her off with, "here's three dollars get lost," and that is what killed her spirit and finally killed her Friday, June 4, 1999. She couldn't get company so she went and bought a bottle of cheap vodka, drank it and sent her liver straight to hell.

Ben Martinez, Jimmy Gallegos, Lucinda and many more. Sure they aren't you or even like you, all were kind people. There are more, they need company, they need to be busy and they are good at what they try - seek 'em out. To feel a purpose in life is so important.

Or is everyone too worried about their reputation and their stuff to reach out and grab someone before they drown.

Who are we killing today? Light a candle, say a prayer and please treat one another better. I know you can. This kind of letter makes me cry a cry I don't like.

Respectfully,

Gary Fitzgerald

Durango

Marine recruit

Dear Editor,

Hello, my name is Taro Hill, I've never done this before and I am currently 1,000 miles away right now. I don't even know if I'm sending this to the right place. Everything is very confusing here at Marine Corps boot camp, San Diego. Yes, I am a recruit here and I am in my fifth of 13 weeks of training. I would've never been able to get here or be who I am today without the support of many people in the town of Pagosa. So, if it's not too much to ask, I would like for a little note of appreciation to be printed for them.

To those very special people, my dream of becoming a United States Marine is slowly, but surely, coming very true. It is only with their great care and love that I am able to go on through my life with my head up and with confidence. I will be forever in debt to them for the love, help, motivation and care that they showed to me.

I promise to all of you that I will make you proud of me and you will be in me until the day I die. It's people like you that make me want to be a Marine. It's people like you that I want to defend and take a bullet for. Thank you all: Mr. David Hamilton, Mrs. Penné Hamilton, Tiffanie Hamilton, Denver and Denise McCabe, Jerry and Linda Nabors, Scott Kay, John Perea, Cindy Davidson, Jerry and Mrs. Curtis, Sean and Connie O'Donnell, Danny and Nettie Wood. There are a few more, they know who they are. I love all of you with everything I have to offer. I will love you all for the rest of time.

On Oct. 1st, when I graduate along with Rosy Nabors and Sonny Davidson, I will be able to look these people in the eye and thank them personally for all of what they have done for me.

Thank you for your time,

Taro R. Hill R127667822

MCRD 1st Bn. Delta Co. Plt. 1081

40000 Midway Ave. Unit 1

San Diego CA 92140

Lighten up

Dear David,

Please, let's lighten up. The PLPOA has had a lot of good years and some bad years. I have attended every annual property owners meeting for 23 years. We are not Colorado residents, we cannot vote in the Archuleta County elections. We are part-time occupants of our home in Lake Pagosa Park and full-time county taxpayers.

Members of our board of directors are unpaid volunteers. If we agree or disagree with them, we respect them for donating their time and talent.

We have discovered that board members with a personal agenda or vendetta, who do not get their way, usually quit, leaving us with major problems.

My wife and I have two votes with the PLPOA, like thousands of other couples who own lots or homes.

We and most of our friends value our security officers' dedicated response to medical emergencies and protecting our property while we are not here. My brother's house in Aspen Springs has been robbed three times in the last four years.

Archuleta County officials have their hands full. They do not need to take on the responsibility of protecting the property of thousands of part-time home owners. We all need the protection the PLPOA has provided over the years.

Part-time property owners from out of town cannot run for office, but we do have a small voice come election time in July every year.

Let's lighten up. Let's get along. Good local government is clean water and timely enforcement of our covenants.

I would recommend that if you are not a dues paying member of the PLPOA that you should back off. Sacking the PLPOA is not going to solve our problems.

Bill Riggs

Oklahoma City

and Pagosa Lakes

Poor judgement

Dear Editor,

Many times in our history it requires hindsight to realize the poor judgment that has led to disastrous results: the Vietnam war, the Red Sox trading Babe Ruth, the Corvair, believing President Clinton.

Other times it is evident immediately the errors of our ways - clear-cutting the forests, discrimination of any kind, building any more McDonald's, a Wal-Mart, the O.J. verdict.

On a local level we have a good example that will fall into both classifications. The location of a funeral home on main street in the middle of an emerging area for galleries, shops and restaurants, shows poor judgment. Never was there a better time for the town to step in and use their influence to actively discourage such a decision. At times there needs to be a voice of reason to guide and to educate. In this case that voice needed to be the town. A petition signed by 40 neighbors of the proposed funeral home had no effect, a previous letter to the editor had no effect, and a letter to the funeral home from the downtown merchants association had no effect.

It's about compatibility. Picture this. Saturday a small service was held at the new facility. At one point there were 16 people dressed for a funeral standing on the sidewalk in front of my building. There was no other place for them to go. They hugged, smoked cigarettes, and cried as they waited for the service to proceed. Walking through the middle of this group on the sidewalk were tourists attempting to quietly and respectfully move from one shop to another. One lady in our gallery was heard to say in disbelief, "My God, there's a funeral going on the sidewalk."

Then on Sunday, the van pulls up, again during our business hours, and unloads (among other things) a child's casket. Are these images we want to project on a daily basis, year round, on main street? I sure don't think so. Does anyone else out there think this is crazy?

Whether you saw it as making no sense as it developed or now with hindsight it becomes wrong, the town should know how you feel. Otherwise we lose our town to other ill-advised endeavors such as this one.

I mean no disrespect to anyone taking part in the service on Saturday. I would imagine that some of you were wishing for a more private setting to get through what had to be a very difficult day.

Respectfully,

CSP White

Love and support

Dear David,

It is nice to live in a town where people love and support one another. You and your staff at The Pagosa Springs SUN, Sally Hameister in the Chamber News and Kate Terry's calendar, have graciously advertised our shows for the past four years. We appreciate you tremendously.

Our thanks go to you and to the friends, families and churches who continually support us with their presence, their monetary gifts and encouragement in all our endeavors, especially our latest show "Get Aboard That Gospel Train."

It is also wonderful to work with the ladies who give their time and talents to offer free entertainment to Pagosa Springs. We look forward to continuing providing this wholesome entertainment for our town. It is fun for us too. Thanks again, to all of you.

Sincerely,

Connie Glover, director

Mountain Harmony Ladies

Barbershop Chorus

E mail

Supreme liberal

Dear David,

I just have to correct my friend Jim Sawicki's assertion that I was trying to equate God as one of the world's great liberals. I was asserting that God is the world's supreme liberal, without equal. Generous and forgiving. A bleeding heart that will not quit.

Sincerely,

Ron Levintan

Ashville, N.C.

Thank you

Dear residents of Pagosa Springs,

There are now two less persons in your population census. I am speaking of Bill "B.J." and Gail Love. They are homeless, as dad jokes, and floating around Oklahoma as carefree as the humidity itself. I, their daughter, am more than thrilled to have them in Okla., however a part of me will truly miss our home in Pagosa. We drove into town on Aug. 6, 1984, and pulled out on Aug. 3, 1999, and all the friends, places, and memories will never be forgotten.

I sincerely want to send a heartfelt thank you to the friends and church family of Community United Methodist Church for taking care of my family, especially the past few years. So many prayers, cards and caring thoughts were expressed to my parents after dad's accident. Thank God for good people! Also, a huge thank you to all the men and women who helped during the move - whether they needed big hands and strong backs, good food, or just a shoulder to cry on, you were there. Thank You for making Pagosa a town I am proud to call home.

God bless you all

Julie (Love) Maxey

Only home

I just wanted to say how much I love Pagosa. I just moved away 3-1/2 months ago and I truly miss it. I have moved around many times in my life and I felt as if Pagosa was my only home. Pagosa has a true peace and comfort that I have not found in my new home in North Carolina. I hope everyone who lives there realizes just how lucky they are.

Sincerely

Amy Simmons

Brilliant

Karl Isberg's Aug. 5 "Food for Thought" was a brilliant column. As a secondary simian, I know. Hopefully the board's new management team will bring us back to where we belong. Citizens of Pagosa Springs.

Lee Sterling

People

Jeremy Backus

Jeremy Backus of Pagosa Springs was named to the Dean's List at DeVry Institute of Technology in Phoenix, Ariz., for the 1998-99 school year.

Backus maintained a 3.83 cumulative grade point average for the school year while majoring in electronics engineering technology.

 

Obituaries

Robert Richey

Robert Richey passed from this life in Arlington, Texas, on Aug. 3, 1999.

Mr. Richey was born in Sabinal, Texas, on Aug. 26, 1919. He and his wife, Marjorie, moved to Pagosa Springs in 1981.

He is survived by two sons, a daughter, and seven grandchildren.

Mr. Richey was buried in Littlefield, Texas, on Aug. 7, 1999.

Charlotte Kuyper

Charlotte Dolores Mulleneaux-Kuyper died at her home in Pagosa Springs on Aug. 11, 1999.

Mrs. Mulleneaux-Kuyper was born in 1936 to George and Juanita Pavey in Concho, Ariz. She was one of nine children.

Mrs. Mulleneaux-Kuyper married David Kuyper on June 22, 1978. The couple moved from Montrose to Pagosa Springs in 1988. She had a great love for reading and homemaking. She especially enjoyed spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Mrs. Mulleneaux-Kuyper is preceded in death by her parents, two sisters and one brother. She is survived by her husband, David Kuyper of Pagosa Springs; her son and daughter-in-law, Scott and Pat Mulleneaux of Morenci, Ariz.; her daughter and son-in-law, Marion and Mark Smith of Milwaukee, Wis.; her daughter, Gerri Kisto of Sacaton, Ariz.; her son, George Mulleneaux of Idaho Springs; her daughter, Lynn Mulleneaux of Delta; her son, Roy Mulleneaux of Denver; three sisters; two brothers; 14 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren.

She was greatly loved by her family and will be missed dearly by both friends and family.

A grave-side service was held on Saturday, Aug. 14, 1999, at Hilltop Cemetery with Rev. Louis Day officiating.

George Leslie "Babe" Shahan

See front page.

 

Births

Krisa Lisa Candelaria

Krisa Lisa Candelaria born on May 27, 1999, was 17 1/2-inches long and weighed 5 pounds, 1 ounce. Krisa is the great-great granddaughter of Mr. Al Thomson, great-granddaughter of Alene Cole, granddaughter of Debbie Candelaria and the daughter of Trish Candelaria. Mr. Thomson is a retired Colorado State Highway Department superintendent from Pagosa Springs. Mr. Thomson was one of the first state highway employees working to keep Wolf Creek Pass open year round.

Anna Margaret Caplan

Steve Caplan and Therese Hall are happy to announce the birth of their new daughter, Anna Margaret Caplan. She was born Aug. 10, 1999, at Mercy Medical Center in Durango. She weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20-inches long.

Her paternal grandmother is Margaret Lowery. Her paternal grandfather was the late Paul Caplan. Anna Margaret's maternal grandparents were the late Russell and Anna Belle Fitzgerald.

Tristan Dino Martinez

Russell and Vindred Martinez wish to announce the birth of their son, Tristan Dino Martinez, born July 12, 1999, in Durango. He is also welcomed by his big sister Mallorie Godbold.

Tristan Dino's paternal grandparents are Tommy and Juana Martinez and Dan and Josie Brinks, and great-grandmother Mary Martinez, all of Pagosa Springs. His maternal grandparents are Cindy and Eva Martinez of Pagosa Springs.

 

Weather Stats

Date

High

Low

Precipitation

Type

Depth

Moisture

8/11

71

42

R

-

.05

8/12

74

44

-

-

-

8/13

77

46

-

-

-

8/14

76

48

R

-

.06

8/15

74

49

R

-

1.02

8/16

78

49

R

-

.01

8/17

77

50

-

-

-

Monsoon moisture not moving out

By John M. Motter

Look for mostly cloudy skies today with a 40 percent chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms and showers, according to Gary Chancey, a National Weather Service forecaster from Grand Junction.

"There is still a lot of moisture in your area," Chancey said. "There is a good chance for afternoon and evening thunderstorms and showers through the coming weekend. Sunday will possibly be drier."

The end of the 1999 monsoon season is not in sight, according to Chancey.

"That southerly flow, the winds carrying moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, is continuing," Chancy said. "So far, I can't see a change."

Pagosa Country temperatures will continue to range from the mid-70s to the mid-80s through the coming weekend, according to Chancey. Nighttime lows will range from the low to mid-50s.

Meanwhile, the amount and frequency of rain dropped on Pagosa Country during July and August has old timers scratching their heads and saying, "I've never seen the like." Many compare the pattern with rainfall patterns in the past which resulted in floods.

The rainfall total for August is 4.33 inches through Aug. 17, well above the average August rainfall of 2.52 inches and approaching the record August rainfall of 5.36 inches.

A Saturday night downpour dumped 1.02 inches of rain and lifted the angry-looking San Juan River into a couple of hot bath pools in the downtown area. The flow in Pagosa Springs resulting from the downpour peaked at 2,100 cubic feet per second Sunday at noon. Pointing to the rapid rise and fall of the San Juan, at midnight between Saturday and Sunday, the flow had been 666 cfs. By 11 p.m. Sunday, the flow had dropped to 1,270 cfs.

Bank-full flow for the San Juan in town is 5,000 cfs. Flows above that rate will cause the river to spill over its banks.

The town takes notice when the flow reaches about 3,000 cfs, according to Jay Harrington, town manager. Steps for remediation could start at about 4,200 cfs, Harrington added.

County Disaster Coordinator Russell Crowley takes a practical approach to watching for floods. When alerted that river flows are increasing at a rapid rate, Crowley takes a first-person look at the river in question. Last week, he visited the Navajo River near the bridge to the Blanco River RV Park. Sandbagging was conducted at that location in 1995. No sandbagging has been necessary this year.

"For the San Juan, I look first at San Juan River Village," Crowley said. "If it starts coming out of its banks there below the ditch, I know it will spill over in town park."

Local Mounted Rangers are trained in evacuation procedures, should that solution become necessary, Crowley said.

A record of flows measured in cubic feet per second are available for many past floods, according to James Bennett, the Durango office chief for the U.S. Geological Survey.

The flood of October 1911 remains legendary throughout the San Juan Mountains because virtually all of the rivers overflowed in a way unmatched since that time. Estimates place the rate of that flow at 25,000 cfs.

"People argue whether it was a 100-year flood or a 500-year flood," Crowley said. "My father said there has never been anything like it. He said wagons sank to their boxes."

Other floods of record and their flows are: June 1995 - 5,000 cfs; 1927 and 1949 - 16,000 cfs; and 1970 and 1972 - 6,500 cfs.

"Stream flows in the Animas River this year (through Durango) are about 195 percent of the median," Bennett said. "I suspect the San Juan River is the same. The rivers really catching it are the Uncompahgre and the San Miguel."

Both drain north, the San Miguel into the Dolores River and the Uncompahgre into the Gunnison River.