Lightning triggers at least eight fires in county
By Karl Isberg
A major storm moved across sections of a very dry Archuleta County the night of June 26, providing a spectacular show of lightning and causing local fire authorities to be on the alert.
Fortunately the storm, and one the following day, contained significant rainfall, helping limit the number of fires ignited by lightning.
Limit - but not eliminate.
Warren Grams, Pagosa Fire Protection District chief, reported the June 26 storm ignited three fires within district boundaries.
Grams said lightning hit a tree located on the Keyah Grande ranch property 10 miles west of Pagosa Springs. Five firefighters responded to the scene with two vehicles and extinguished the blaze.
A house located at 748 Stevens Circle in the Lake Forest subdivision west of Pagosa Springs was hit by lightning. The house was unoccupied; a neighbor smelled smoke at 3 a.m., spotted flames and called for assistance. Twenty-four firefighters brought five trucks to the scene and managed to quench the flames by 6:30 in the morning. Grams estimated damage to the top floors of the house at $40,000.
A Pagosa Fire Protection crew of six took three units to a 6:30 a.m. call and put out a tree and grass fire in the Trails subdivision west of Pagosa Springs.
Despite recent moisture, Grams said he is not confident the extreme fire danger in the area has been reduced. "It's supposed to dry out for a while," said the chief. "We are not relaxing the countywide fire ban."
Anyone violating the countywide ban on open fires is now subject to heavy fines. Archuleta County commissioners gave authorities some enforcement muscle with an ordinance passed June 27. Anyone found guilty of violating the ban is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and a $10 surcharge, for each offense.
Storms spawned fires in the San Juan National Forest during the last week.
Forest Service spokesman Jim Shepardson said fire crews had battled a series of small blazes between June 22 and 28. "We've had about one fire a day for a while now," said Shepardson.
A fire near Milk Creek, 20 miles north of Pagosa Springs, burned a 3/4-acre site June 21. It was fought by a crew of six with assistance from a water bucket-bearing helicopter.
On June 23, a blaze in Canyon de Pescar, near Coyote Park 20 miles south of Pagosa Springs, burned 1/2 acre before a crew of seven with three engines brought it under control.
Another fire in the same general area of the county, at Spence Reservoir near the Alpine Lakes subdivision southeast of Pagosa, remained small. Five firefighters with one engine and assistance from a helicopter crew held the blaze to a 10th of an acre.
On June 27, a small fire on Devil Mountain, 15 miles west of town, was attacked with a helicopter and by three firefighters. Two crew members remained at the site on Wednesday.
A fire was spotted June 28 at Echo Canyon, 5 miles southeast of Pagosa Springs. A helicopter crew and three firefighters worked throughout the day at the site.
"The fires were all caused by lightning," said Shepardson. "We're still braced for the worst. Going into the Fourth of July weekend, we'll be well-staffed, with patrols out looking for people who have campfires and who are violating the ban on use of fires in the forest."
Piano Creek's fact sheet plays an upbeat tune
By John M. Motter
Piano Creek Ranch general manager Gerald R. Sanders conducted a briefing for the Archuleta County commissioners Tuesday at the development's office on Lewis Street in Pagosa Springs.
"We have always been open and up front about what we plan to do," Sanders said. "There are a lot of rumors flying around and I want to get the facts on the table."
According to a fact sheet passed out by Sanders, Piano Creek Ranch is a private, member-owned guest ranch offering horseback riding, golf, downhill and crosscountry skiing, fly fishing, sporting clays (trap shooting), children's play and educational programs, and an endowed artists and educators-in-residence program for its members.
As of the date of the fact sheet, according to the fact sheet, the ranch has approximately 150 reserved memberships of a proposed total ranch membership of 295. The current price for membership is $635,000.
Piano Creek Ranch is located 14 miles northeast of Pagosa Springs in Mineral County. It straddles the East Fork of the San Juan River and is reached by traveling east about 4 miles from U.S. 160 on Forest Service Road 657 (East Fork access road).
Of the 2,780 total acres, about 10 percent, or 273 acres will be disturbed by building and construction. The property is zoned as "Residential Recreation District" by Mineral County, according to the fact sheet.
Planned facilities, according to the fact sheet, include a main lodge with 15 accommodations, dining rooms, recreational amenities, and a gift shop. From 42 to 48 member cabins are anticipated, plus from 15 to 30 owner, or founders' "cabins." Employee housing will include a dormitory for more than 100 employees plus five manager cabins.
Also scheduled for construction, according to the fact sheet, are an 18-hole golf course with a 2,400-square-foot club house and nearby tennis courts; a 12-to 14- run ski area with a 1,250-foot vertical drop serviced by a snowcat or a single quad-chair lift and a warming hut; a western riding center with stables and corrals; a sporting clays center; and a maintenance facility.
Infrastructure and golf course construction is expected to begin during the late summer of the year 2000 or spring of 2001. Completion of all construction is anticipated by summer or fall of 2002, according to the fact sheet.
Concerning utilities, the fact sheet says water will be provided by on-site water rights; sewage will be handled by septic systems, but an optional Colorado-approved wastewater treatment facility is under consideration; natural gas is available; electricity from La Plata Electric Association; a microwave relay will be used for telephone service; and cable television will be provided via satellite.
Concerning transportation, a company van will transport employees housed off site; shuttle transportation will be provided for guests to and from Stevens Field in Pagosa Springs and La Plata County Airport near Durango; underground parking will be provided for ranch guests; and electric carts for guests on site.
Seasonally, from 150 to 175 employees are anticipated through the summer, according to the fact sheet. During the winter 75 employees are anticipated.
The fact sheet anticipates the following economic impacts without including property taxes, but using a factor of six as an economic multiplier: A current $1.8 million annual operating budget with a $10.8 million impact; the renovation of the Lewis Street building cost $300,000 with an impact of $1.8 million; member visits to airport and local businesses based on 400 visits and spending $500 per family should generate $200,000 with an impact of $1.2 million; the construction phase during 2000-2002 should expend more than $90 million with a $540 million impact; and the operating phase has an annual budget of $5-6 million with a $30-36 million impact.
The ranch will, according to the fact sheet and subject to the Forest Service's approval, maintain and plow all roads to and through the ranch. Otherwise, the ranch will use access roads as currently maintained using "over-the-snow" buses during winter. The access road runs through about 4 miles of Archuleta County and 5 miles of Mineral County, 4 miles of the Mineral County; section runs through the ranch.
Permits required, according to the fact sheet, include Mineral County building permits and an Army Corps of Engineers 404 permit for wetlands analysis and compliance.
In addition to the permits listed on the fact sheet, Sanders said subdivision compliance will be sought from Mineral County for the portion of the development containing founders' houses.
Piano Creek is also seeking permission from the Forest Service, according to the fact sheet, to maintain the road at a higher standard - including during the winter months. Specific improvements and maintenance activities are specified on the fact sheet in connection with the Forest Service application.
"We have had numerous discussions with them," said Mineral County Planner Les Cahill. "So far they have not applied for any building permits or submitted any subdivision applications.
"One thing that concerns me is, they will have quite a lot of effluent from the clubhouse, maybe 65,000 gallons per day. Our laws allow a septic tank for up to 2,000 gallons a day. Anything more than that must be approved by the state. I assume the state will require a wastewater treatment plant. I might consider issuing a building permit for an individual cabin serviced by a septic tank, but I'm not issuing any permit for the clubhouse until I am satisfied they will meet state requirements in connection with the clubhouse. They are not going to pollute the Upper San Juan River on my watch."
No building is anticipated on the 100-year floodplain according to the plans he has seen, Cahill said.
Concerning the Forest Service road accessing the development, Piano Creek is seeking a lease permit, according to Pagosa District Ranger Jo Bridges.
Because anticipated uses, including snow plowing in winter, involve a differing impact on the road than prevailed in the past, the Forest Service is conducting a survey to determine the extent of environmental measures needed. The Forest Service could require an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment to determine mitigating factors required before the lease is issued.
"We received a large number of (public) responses during our scoping phase," Bridges said. "A consultant we have hired, Woodward-Clyde of Denver, will soon be meeting with a Forest Service interdisciplinary team to determine what will be required before the road permit is issued."
Piano Creek proponents can choose to withdraw their application for the lease, Bridges said, but in that case the Forest Service will continue to close the road during winter months. In that case Piano Creek will be allowed access to its property by snowmobile, the same as any other snowmobiler.
The Forest Service attitude is that Forest Service roads are public property and no user should be allowed to impact the roads without mitigating or paying for the impact, according to Bridges.
Sanders asserts that Piano Creek is not a timeshare development. Members can come any time by making prior reservation, Sanders said.
"They can visit and use the amenities without staying in one of the accommodations," Sanders said.
One dead, two hospitalized after traffic crashes
By Karl Isberg
Two separate vehicle accidents left one person dead and two others in hospitals late last week.
An auto accident near Chimney Rock resulted in the death of a Durango man June 21. William L. Huffman, 51, was killed when his Nissan pickup truck crashed on Colo. 151 south of U.S. 160 at milepost 30.
A report by Colorado State Patrol Trooper Chris Balenti indicates Huffman, a driver for the Durango-based Kangaroo Express delivery service, was northbound on Colo. 151 when his truck ran off the roadway while exiting a turn. The truck rolled three times, partially ejecting the victim on the second roll then ejecting him completely on the third roll.
According to Bill Bright, of Emergency Medical Services, Huffman was declared dead at the scene.
On June 24, a three-wheel off-road vehicle driven by Eric St. Laurent, 32, of Pagosa Springs left a road in the Trails subdivision west of Pagosa Springs resulting in injuries to St. Laurent and his passenger, Joshua Monthei, 9, of Pagosa.
According to CSP Corporal Randy Talbot, the off-road vehicle was traveling an estimated 40 miles per hour on Trails Boulevard, near its intersection with High Place. The roadway at that location, said Talbot, is elevated approximately four feet above surrounding ground. St. Laurent's vehicle left the road and crashed into a stand of oak brush where both riders were ejected.
Talbot reported Wednesday that alcohol use is a factor in the accident and said the incident remains under investigation.
Monthei was taken to San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, N.M., by Air Care helicopter. The youngster was reported in good condition at the hospital on Wednesday.
St. Laurent was transported to Mercy Medical Center in Durango. A hospital spokesman said Wednesday that St. Laurent was in critical condition suffering blunt chest trauma and respiratory stress.
Independence weekend features events for all
By Richard Walter
Many things have changed in Pagosa in the last half century but one of the mainstays remains.
It is the Red Ryder Roundup, a salute to the nation's independence and the type of people who settled and made this area one of the finest anywhere to live and raise a family.
Events get underway today with the carnival in Town Park. It will continue through July 4.
Next on the agenda of family fare is the 22nd annual "Park to Park Art," an arts and crafts festival linking Town Park and Centennial Park with more than 75 artists and vendors offering food and handmade items in convenient Riverwalk booths from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The event will be spiced with live music at 3 p.m. Sunday in Centennial Park.
An hour later, at 4 p.m. Sunday, the 51st Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo will open at the county fairgrounds on U.S. 84 at Mill Creek Road. Rodeo competition will continue at 4 p.m. Monday and 2 p.m. Tuesday with cowpokes from around the country vying for prize money.
The two most attended and anticipated events of the 4-day holiday are also on tap Tuesday.
The Rotary-sponsored Independence Day parade through the downtown area steps off promptly at 10 a.m. on South 8th Street, moves east on San Juan Street and north on Pagosa Street to termination at 2nd Street.
This parade has grown every year and is receiving national attention. It is a good idea to arrive early, pick out your favorite viewing point, set up your lawn chairs and umbrellas, and prepare for horses, clowns, sparkling floats, royalty, cowboys and everything you associate with a Western small town parade.
For those who just want to get through town, traffic will be re-routed off San Juan and Pagosa streets onto Lewis Street during the parade.
The culmination of the celebration will come with a fireworks spectacular at dusk at Pagosa Lodge cosponsored by the town of Pagosa Springs, Fairfield Communities Inc., Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association, Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District, Pagosa Springs Golf Club and Pagosa Lodge.
Law enforcement agencies remind everyone there will be no parking on the south side of U.S. 160 and no parking on Alpha Drive which runs south off the highway; parking at the lodge will be for guests only.
Public parking will be permitted in the Fairfield Pagosa Activity Center and Citizens Bank lots, in the back lot and the west side of the front lot at Country Center City Market; from Wells Fargo Bank to the strip mall parking lot; the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center parking lot; the west side only of Davis Cup Drive; and, "at your own risk," the Meadows lot on the south side of east Park Avenue.
No pedestrian crossing nor standing alongside U.S. 160 will be allowed.
Pagosa Lodge welcomes all who wish, to watch the fireworks display from the lawn area adjacent to Piñon Lake. At 7 p.m., the Pagosa Hot Strings will present a special holiday concert entitled "Red, White and Bluegrass," sponsored by the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Additional information on holiday activities can be found in today's Preview section.
Tire slashing defendant gets 8 years probation
By Karl Isberg
A Pagosa man sentenced in March for his part in a 1998 act of vandalism in downtown Pagosa Springs went back to court in Durango June 16 and had his sentence restructured by District Court Judge Greg Lyman.
Shaun Wood, 31, appeared before Lyman after failing to meet stipulations of his original sentence.
Wood was charged with the Dec. 20, 1998, vandalism of 92 vehicles in downtown Pagosa Springs. The spree resulted in an estimated $46,000 loss to owners of the vehicles after tires were slashed and, in several cases, damage was done to paint on cars.
Wood was also charged with criminal mischief in connection with two other incidents in downtown Pagosa Springs: the Dec. 4, 1998, destruction of telephone company property, and damage to vehicles and windows in downtown buildings on Jan. 10, 1999.
Following his plea of guilty to the count of criminal mischief related to the tire-slashing incident, the other two counts were dropped. Wood was sentenced March 17.
Wood's original sentence included two years at Southwest Community Corrections Facility in Durango, otherwise known as the Hilltop facility, and an order to pay $26,985 restitution.
According to Assistant District Attorney Craig Westberg, the Community Corrections program at Durango was reluctant to admit Wood but did so after Westberg appealed to members of the Community Corrections board of directors.
As part of the program at the Hilltop facility, said Westberg, Wood was "asked to look for a job and he said no. The request was that he had to simply try to find work, and he wouldn't do it."
Wood was taken out of the Hilltop program, returned to the Archuleta County Jail, and the sentencing hearing on June 16 resulted.
"We took the position," said Westberg, "that Wood was offered the chance for Community Corrections. We thought it was an appropriate place for him, and he blew it off. As a result, we asked the court that Wood receive prison time in the Department of Corrections. Chad McGinnis, the district probation officer, made the same recommendation."
When he restructured Wood's sentence, Lyman had other ideas.
A minute order issued by the judge put Wood on probation for eight years and confirmed restitution in the amount of $26,985. Wood was sentenced to 90 days in the Archuleta County Jail, with credit for time served since April 4.
The order requires Wood to participate in mental health and substance abuse counseling as required by his probation, as well as to pursue occupational rehabilitation, making a "best effort" to secure employment.
Wood is not to partake of alcohol, will participate in a monitored Antabuse program "if appropriate," and be subject to random urinalysis.
Monsoon season officially en route
By John M. Motter
The summer monsoon season, if it hasn't already arrived in Pagosa Country, is on its way according to Gary Chancy, a National Weather Service forecaster from Grand Junction.
"Look for a 20 percent chance of thundershowers with partly cloudy skies this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon," Chancy said. "High temperatures should be in the mid to upper 80s."
Through the coming weekend and Fourth of July celebration, the forecast remains much the same, according to Chancy.
"If anything, the chance for rain early next week is even higher, maybe 30 or 40 percent," Chancy said. "We don't like to put percentages on forecasts covering weather more than three days in the future, but it does look as if the monsoon season is arriving."
The rain received in Pagosa Country last week resulted from a scaled-down version of monsoon conditions, Chancy said. Monsoon conditions involve a high pressure area in Eastern New Mexico or West Texas with clockwise winds, and a low pressure area off the Southern California or Baja California coasts with counterclockwise winds. The winds unite forces, pick up moisture from the Gulf of California and Pacific Ocean, and dump that moisture on the Four Corners area. Monsoon conditions traditionally arrive during July.
Last week's precipitation amounted to 0.81 inches as measured at the official National Weather Service station located at Stevens Field. Last week's precipitation fell on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday and brought the June precipitation total to 1.32 inches, well above the 56-year June average of 0.91 inches.
Not enough rain fell to cause county and Forest Service officials to remove fire restrictions.
Temperatures last week ranged from a high of 82 degrees recorded Sunday to a low of 41 degrees recorded Friday. The average high temperature was 79 degrees, the average low temperature 44 degrees.
Sheriff, PLPOA set law enforcement workshop
By John M. Motter
A workshop will be held tomorrow morning to discuss the county hiring of two deputies to replace law enforcement coverage currently supplied by the soon-to-be disbanded Pagosa Lakes Property Owner's Public Safety Office.
The workshop will be at 10 a.m. in the commissioners meeting room in the courthouse. Meeting will be the county commissioners and representatives of the county sheriff.
Meanwhile, the PLPOA has offered to sell three law enforcement vehicles to Archuleta County for a lump price of $59,150, Sheriff Tom Richards reported to the county commissioners Tuesday morning.
Richard's report was a follow up on his request last week for the additional deputies. The PLPOA is disbanding the PSO effective July 15. Last week, the commissioners postponed action on Richard's request until they gather more information.
Included in the information Richards was asked to supply was if and under what conditions the county can purchase the law enforcement vehicles currently used by the PSO.
"We can purchase three vehicles, a Tahoe, a Suburban, and a Bronco for a total cost of $59,150," Richards said. "New, they would cost about $70,000. The PLPOA will also consider a lease purchase of $20,000 a year for three years. The good thing about these vehicles is, they already have the light bars and the entire police package installed. That will save us several thousand dollars."
When asked if fewer than three vehicles could be purchased, Richards said he hadn't checked that option.
Gene Crabtree, chairman of the board of county commissioners, said he thought the general idea sounded good, but he is concerned because of a threatened injunction designed to prevent the PLPOA from disbanding the PSO.
County Attorney Mary Weiss said no injunction had been filed. Weiss said, "If one is filed, it has nothing to do with what the county is doing. They have no claim against us (the county). Their claim will be against the (PLP0A) board."
"I don't think we have sufficient information to make a decision yet," said Commissioner Bill Downey. "I hate to put off making a decision, but I'd like to have a work session with the sheriff's office so we'll have more time to hash this over."
"I have no problem delaying a week," said Commissioner Ken Fox, "I am satisfied that there is a viable need to provide coverage."
If the county hires two deputies and buys patrol cars, the estimated cost for one year is about $140,000. About one-half that amount is for salaries. Since one-half of this year is passed, the amount needed for salaries for the remainder of the year is expected to be in the neighborhood of $35,000.
First batch plant public hearing July 12
By John M. Motter
Public hearings are a device used by governing bodies to gather public opinions concerning proposed actions that affect community interest or a large group of citizens. As such, public hearings are much in evidence in fast growing areas such as the one surrounding Pagosa Springs.
In Colorado, state statutes prescribe activities that must be considered in public hearings before action can be taken by the governing body. In some instances, county or municipal legislation prescribes public hearings. Such legislation normally is worded to conform with state statutes.
In all cases, the governing body conducting the public hearing is required to notify the public of the date, time, location, and subject of the hearing, giving sufficient advance notice to allow members of the public to attend.
Classical examples of the kinds of activities which require public hearings are liquor license approvals, both new applications and renewals; various kinds of property activities involving bankruptcies, estates, and such; various legislative actions of governing bodies; and certain zoning and subdivision activities.
An upcoming public hearing attracting a considerable amount of public interest concerns an application by Hard Times Concrete Inc. to operate a concrete batch plant about 3 miles north of Pagosa Springs on U.S. 160. The first public hearing on this issue is scheduled July 12 at 7 p.m. before the Upper San Juan Regional Planning Commission in the county commissioners meeting room in the county courthouse.
Public hearings differ in legal context from the ordinary meetings of elected bodies, according to Mary Weiss, the county attorney
Elected officials conducting public hearings are acting as judges, Weiss said. As such, ideally they should have no prior knowledge of the activity being considered at the public hearing, according to Weiss.
Weiss was expressing the opinions she recently heard at a statewide conference of county attorneys.
"I am repeating what I heard at that conference, what some the other attorneys said they would do," Weiss said.
At issue is the question of whether prior knowledge, or gathering information prior to a public hearing might predispose or bias the official gathering information resulting in an unfair verdict at the time of the meeting.
The purpose of the meeting, according to Weiss, is to enable the board with jurisdiction to gather information in order to arrive at an unbiased decision.
Because it is likely that public officials will have prior knowledge concerning the subject of a public hearing, Weiss has advised that those officials, in this case the county commissioners, make a public disclosure at the hearing revealing sources and content of prior information.
Such disclosure may serve as a legal defense should a suit be filed challenging the fairness of a decision reached following a public hearing; especially if the suit claims those reaching the decision were biased because of obtaining prior knowledge.
A new county regulation used to evaluate certain proposed developments, such as the batch plant, is the conditional-use permit. Evaluation criteria used to decide for or against issuing a conditional-use permit include the following considerations:
- The relationship and impact of the use on the development objectives of Archuleta County as defined in the Archuleta County Master Plan: Attempt to separate conflicting land uses, such as residential and industrial
- The effect of the use on light and air, distribution of population, transportation facilities, utilities, schools, parks and recreation facilities, and other public factors
- The effect of the use upon traffic with particular reference to congestion, vehicular and pedestrian circulation, safety and convenience, traffic flow and control, access, maneuverability, and removal of snow from roads, sidewalks, and parking areas
- The effect of the use on the character of the area in which the proposed use is to be located, including the scale and bulk of the proposed use in relation to surrounding uses
- The adequacy of design features of the site to accommodate the proposed use, including but not limited to accessibility, service areas, parking, loading, landscaping and buffering, lighting, etc.
- The effect of the use upon the natural resources and wildlife habitat areas.
At a recent Planning Commission meeting, before acting on a special-use permit, the planning commissioners followed a printed guideline prepared by the county planning office. The guideline advised the planning board members to make the following necessary findings, according to guidelines published by the planning office staff:
- The proposed use is in accordance with the purposes with this section of the conditional-use document and meets the general intent and is consistent with the adopted plans and policies of Archuleta County
- The proposed location of the use, the proposed access to the site, and the conditions under which the use would be operated or maintained will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, or welfare, or materially injurious to properties or improvements in the vicinity
- There must be adequate and available utilities and public services to service the proposed use, without reduction in the adequacy of services to other existing uses. These include, but are not limited to, sewage and waste disposal, water, electricity, law enforcement, and fire protection
- The proposed use must be compatible with adjacent uses, including but not limited to site design and operating factors, such as the control of adverse impacts including noise, dust, odor, vibration, exterior lighting, traffic generation, hours of operation, public safety, etc.
In addition to meeting the necessary findings criteria, the developer has to meet certain site development standards.
Library District could end if TABOR 205 wins
By John M. Motter
A file containing information about TABOR 205 has been started at the Ruby Sisson Memorial Library, librarian Lenore Bright reported to the county commissioners Tuesday.
Bright said the file is necessary so that local folks can learn the true facts about the harm that will be done to local governmental institutions if TABOR 205 is passed this fall.
TABOR 205 is a proposed constitutional amendment placed on the Nov. 7 ballot by initiative. It was written and is being pushed by Douglas Bruce, the author of the original TABOR (tax payers bill of rights) amendment. TABOR 205 will destroy all small districts in the county, Bright said, including the library district.
Bright also asked, in the event the library is enlarged, for permission to use for parking a portion of the parcel on U.S. 160 that formerly housed a Colorado Department of Transportation maintenance building. The site adjoins the library's property and has long been vacant. CDOT has made a commitment to sell the lot to the county. Progress on the transaction is at a standstill because two state agencies are arguing over the property.
The Colorado Department of Health officials say the property is contaminated from spilled petroleum products. CDOT officials contend they have cleaned up the pollution making the site safe and available. Until the differences between the two agencies are resolved, the property will apparently remain in state hands.
Finally, Bright asked that a flood plain study be made of McCabe Creek, particularly the west branch of McCabe Creek running under the library. McCabe Creek poses a dangerous flood threat, according to Bright. A study is needed to ascertain the potential for flood damage and the steps needed to avoid it, Bright said.
In other business the commissioners:
- Adopted a fire ban ordinance and a countywide fire ban
- The following liquor licenses were issued: a tavern license for San Marcial Grille; a special event permit for the Archuleta County Fair Board Aug. 4, 5 and 6; a special event permit for VFW Post 9695; a beer and wine license for Chile Mountain Cafe; a hotel/restaurant license renewal for Hogs Breath Saloon
- Minor impact subdivision Pole Creek Ranch was granted a variance from subdivision negating the need to construct a fence in addition to the existing Forest Service fence surrounding the property. The Forest Service fence is as much as 200 feet from the property line in some locations. The owner was instructed to otherwise identify property boundaries
- Following a presentation by Kathy Ruth, the county planning director, escrow funds for the Wagner minor impact subdivision were released, a conditional-use permit granted Winning Solutions, and an exemption request approved for Dietz/Clinton
- County Road Manager Kevin Walters presented a monthly progress report on county road and bridge activities. About $20,967 is left over from the magnesium chloride fund, even though the county has sprayed 107 miles of road this year. Part of the surplus is due to a reduced price and part due to a Forest Service cutback on Piedra Road, Walters said. The commissioners approved Walters' suggestion that the surplus be applied to portions of Coyote Park Road, certain roads in Holiday Acres, the Upper Navajo Road, Trujillo Road and several smaller county roads.
Chromo woman in bowling Hall of Fame
By Richard Walter
A Chromo woman would probably qualify as the top woman bowler in Archuleta County.
But since that title is non-existent, she'll have to settle for having been inducted recently into the American Women's Bowling Association Hall of Fame.
Emma (Majeski) English was cited for superior performance in numerous professional appearances over an 11-year period. She also received a certificate of recognition from the Women's International Bowling Congress.
Mrs. English, who has lived in Archuleta County over 20 years and currently resides with husband, Don, on a ranch in Chromo, said she had to give up the sport when they moved to Chromo and has not bowled in the last 10 years. "There was nowhere close with a bowling alley" she said. "Durango is about 80 miles away."
During her professional career, however, she traveled all over the country to compete in professional tournaments and while she never won one of the majors, she captured many state and regional championships and once made the finals of the prestigious Queen's Tournament.
A native of Illinois, she achieved her bowling prowess while living in Albuquerque. She once carried the highest average ever for a woman in the state of New Mexico and was a state all-events winner.
While the perfect 300 game eluded English throughout her career, she did roll a 299 in competition and "had a house full of trophies. I had to give them up. They were a real nuisance when we were moving."
Although she's been away from the sport for several years, she said, "I sometimes still get the urge to go and roll. I wouldn't have given up a moment of the competition. It was a challenging way of life."
English thinks a bowling alley could be a real investment for the Pagosa Springs area. "It would be a great draw, particularly for the children," she said. "A 12- or 16-lane house could probably be successful."
San Juan Days recall vitality of Pagosa Junction
By John M. Motter
Summer time is "visit the home place" time in Pagosa Country. Among the best attended community reunions is San Juan Days at Pagosa Junction.
Celebrated last Sunday, San Juan Days has been held annually since the 1940s or 1950s, the starting date is somewhat unclear. This past Sunday about 85 folks of all ages attended mass in St. John the Baptist Catholic Mission at Pagosa Junction, then spread out a feast on picnic tables on Chavez family property along the San Juan River.
The celebration started with a 1:30 p.m. mass at the church conducted by Father John Bowe of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Pagosa Springs. Cars with license plates from California, Nebraska, New Mexico, and, of course, from Colorado lined the driveway from the church almost back to the the road.
Clear skies and a hot summer sun covered the ceremonies in the old adobe church posed high on a hill overlooking the remnants of Pagosa Junction. This building, the Iglesia de San Juan, was erected in 1927, high enough above the unpredictable San Juan River to avoid any flood. Earlier churches had been swept away by the river in 1911 and again in 1927.
The church guards the valley like a sentinel posted on a hill. It is a picturesque, rectangular, structure built of adobe covered with white-painted plaster on the outside walls. A bell tower above the entrance porch on the front of the building is topped by a simple wooden cross. Small, stained-glass windows adorn each wall. Below, a picket line of cottonwoods escort the meandering San Juan across the valley floor. Rimrocked mountains covered with sage and flecked with pockets of ponderosa encase the valley.
From its elevated position, the church looks down on the remnants of Pagosa Junction, scattered in piles dominated by a lurching water tower. That old tower once filled thirsty boilers on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad which chugged through the town and gave it a reason for being. The railroad arrived at Pagosa Junction in 1881. At that time, the community was known as El Gato. The origins of El Gato are shrouded in the folds of history.
During 1900, a branch line called the Pagosa and Northern was constructed from El Gato through Cat Creek to Pagosa Springs. It was at this time that the name was changed from El Gato to Pagosa Junction. At the same time, A.T. Sullenberger constructed a large lumber mill at Pagosa Junction. The town blossomed, acquired a school, a post office, restaurants, general stores and the other accouterments of a growing community. Perhaps the first church was erected at this time. Pagosa Junction became a central point for loading wool, sheep, cattle and other produce of the area onto trains for shipment to the outside world.
After a few short years, Sullenberger moved his mill, the beginning of the end for Pagosa Junction. Of course, no one realized that at the time. As the years passed, traffic and commerce on the railroad tapered off. The Pagosa and Northern ceased operations in the early 1930s. The rail connection to Durango hung on until the 1950s.
Meanwhile, life in the southern part of Archuleta County became more difficult. A severe winter wiped out sheep herds. The Great Depression made subsistence living almost impossible. Folks moved away, looking for work. Searching for a way to feed hungry mouths, some moved to Pagosa Springs, or the mines at Leadville and Silverton, or even as far away as Salt Lake City and California.
World War II and factories springing up on the West Coast provided more jobs. The valley of the San Juan was almost vacated, the community of Pagosa Junction a ghost town. The last residents of the town, the Padillas, left last year after moving the Gomez Store to the Fred Harman Art Museum just west of Pagosa Springs. Liliosa Padilla was born in the old store, a member of the Gomez family.
Today, a handful of the former residents remain along the San Juan River between Pagosa Junction and Navajo Lake. These are the people who show up annually for San Juan Days. Joining them are people from California and Utah and other parts of the nation; people whose parents and grandparents once lived in the valley, people searching for roots.
Sunday's service began shortly after Father John entered the back door of the church, there to be greeted by wall-to-wall worshipers. Soon, the sound of singing Spanish voices accompanied by a guitar drifted out the open front door and across the valley. A short while later, chosen members of the congregation emerged from the door carrying a statue of the church's patron saint. The congregation marched twice around the building, led by the object of their veneration, then returned to the stifling heat inside. More choruses, a homily by Father John, a benediction, then the service was over and the cars paraded to the picnic grounds.
All during the morning Chris Chavez and others had been setting up tables and chairs. Frequent breaks were taken to return home and check the beef, chicken, pork, and other festival goodies. Soon cars full of people arrived from the church. Trunk lids popped open and arm loads of food were toted to the serving table.
Chavez family members stood behind the table, smiles on their faces and serving spoons in their hands. A line of hungry celebrants formed and moved down the opposite side of the table, filling plates with a little of this and a little of that. Through it all, conversations never ceased. Friends updated friends on the latest operations, divorces and marriages, who had new babies, and what the grandchildren were doing.
Not a small proportion of the talk was in Spanish. Family surnames dictated the obvious choice of language: Chavez, Martinez, Gallegos, Trujillo and so on. It soon became obvious that nearly all of the families were fragmented, the younger generations gone to better paying jobs somewhere in modern suburban centers.
There were a few "remember whens?" from the oldsters who had attended school in Pagosa Junction or in Pagosa Springs. A couple from California with a mother born in Pagosa Springs were looking for roots, were their names Velasquez and Olguin and "did anyone remember them?"
As happens at most reunions, more than a few folks recalled the good old days when Pagosa Junction was a viable community. Families lived on little plats of land, raised their own vegetables, kept a few chickens, a few sheep and goats, and maybe a cow or two and horses. Many lamented the demise of the town and the absence of the Gomez Store.
And there was the history of San Juan Days supplied by the Chavez brothers, who still live along the river between Pagosa Junction and Caracas.
"It was started by my grandfather, José N. Chavez," said Chris Chavez. "It was meant as a harvest celebration. Helping grandfather start it were J. Felix Gomez, Tony Quintana, Pete Gallegos, and maybe Antonio Gomez. The time was probably the 1940s.
"At first we cooked sheep," Chavez continued. "Then someone started donating a beef. We cooked it in a hole in the ground. Now times and the food have changed."
Sunday's offering was traditional American picnic fare. The Southwestern dishes for which this part of the country is noted were conspicuously absent.
And then San Juan Days was finished for another year. Other reunions will take place during the coming summer months, especially during the Fourth of July holidays. Folks will get together at Trujillo and in the Upper Blanco Basin, at family homes and favorite picnic sites. Talk will drift to the old days, the reason for returning to Pagosa Country. The old days won't come back, but the old folks will, again and again.
Bonzer finds his way home from Piedra adventure
By Richard Walter
The journey may not have taken as long, but Bonzer could probably tell the same kind of tales of finding his way home as Lassie might have.
Like the famous dog whose exploits led to a popular children's novel, classic movie and a television series, Bonzer had to travel treacherous terrain and brave the wilds to get back to his home.
Of course he didn't have to go nearly as far - only 8 to 10 miles - but the ordeal would be none the less grueling.
Bonzer is one of a trio of canines owned by Pat and Rolley Jackson. His adventure began around 9 a.m. June 21.
The Jacksons, with all three dogs riding on their truck, headed up Piedra Road for some early-morning horseback riding above Williams Lake. When they reached the Williams Creek Trail Head, pets Ziggy and Murphy were still on the truck but Bonzer was nowhere to be found.
At first the Jacksons thought their pet, a golden retriever-Labrador mix a little over 2 years old, had jumped off the truck in pursuit of something which attracted his attention and, they thought, he'd catch up with them shortly.
When Bonzer did not shown up at the trail head, they began searching for him along the route they had traveled.
They visited several campgrounds and alerted visitors to be on the watch for Bonzer. They traveled all the way back to the store they own in the Pagosa Country Center, thinking he might have headed back there. But there was no sign of the dog.
They organized search parties, many on horseback, looking for the missing pet and again covered all the territory up Piedra Road to the trail head. There were sightings reported of a stray dog at Williams Creek and at Indian Head Lodge, but still no sign of Bonzer.
The Jacksons became more and more worried when they got a report that a dog matching Bonzer's description had been sighted running in the meadow along Williams Lake but had taken off into the hills when the people attempted to approach him.
With only a skeleton force on duty in the store, workers joined the family and friends in the search but Bonzer could not be found. At times there were up to a dozen in the search party.
Then, at mid-morning Friday, the wandering pet reappeared, walking into the yard at the Jackson's home as if nothing unusual had happened. A neighbor spotted him, let him in the house and notified the Jacksons. He had no scars, no open wounds and no indications of run-ins with wildlife in the area.
For better than two days he had an entire area searching for him but Bonzer seemed ready to accept his big adventure as just a storybook event.
And where is he now? Back at the electronics store which is his regular daytime hangout.
No one knows for sure where Bonzer went or how he found his way back home. But all are happy that he did play the "Lassie Come Home" role to the hilt.
And, says Mrs. Jackson, Bonzer will no longer be riding unrestrained. "One adventure per lifetime is enough," she said.
We were experiencing those "bittersweet" feelings as we drove away from Pagosa Springs on Wednesday. Though we were very excited to begin our time of ministry with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, our hearts were breaking as we left "home" and our friends. As we all know, there is no place like Pagosa, and no people like Pagosans. In our travels through Arizona, on the way to Hawaii . . . we would be reminded again how wonderful Pagosa friends are.
Somewhere in the middle of the Arizona desert, about half way between Kayenta and Tuba City our car broke down. Not exactly on the top-10 list of places you want your car to die. We ended up spending a lovely four hours under the shade of an old juniper bush, awaiting the tow truck. While waiting, we talked about Hawaii, Pagosa, juniper trees, desert bugs, read a bit, drank from our water jug, and also talked about the amazing fact that not one person had stopped to help us. Not a one. Not even one of the four police vehicles that zoomed past, stopped to ask if we were having a bad day. (These guys might want to take some tips from Donny Volger or Chris Balenti, ya think?) We reminisced about our first winter in Pagosa, 14 years ago, remembering the first time our car slid into a ditch on icy roads. We had so many people stop to help, we could have had an old-fashioned tailgate party.
After about three hours 45 minutes under the old juniper bush, we spotted a bright-yellow VW Bug doing a U-turn and pulling up behind our dead-car. Wow, somebody really cared.
Guess who? Terry and Jennifer Alley from Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
Yah see, even out in the middle of the Arizona desert, it is still Pagosa people who come to the rescue. Thanks Terry and Jennifer for stopping, for the use of your cell phone to check on the progress of our tow truck, the words of encouragement, and the yogurt parfait from McDonald's. It was all you had to eat, but you gave it to us anyway. You guys are great.
There are no people quite like Pagosa people. Our little town is blessed. Don't take it for granted. We love you and will miss you.
Keith and Diane Rima
On June 9 my sister, Regina Samples, passed away. Her family lives in the Dallas, Texas, area so the distance posed a problem in resolving the immediate needs that arose. We were so grateful for Susan Baker, Owen Parker and Lonna Anderson for stepping forward until the family was able to arrive.
Through the years her friends and the entire town of Pagosa Springs won the heart of Regina. Her family often tried to persuade her to move back to Dallas, but she refused to leave "her mountains." After witnessing the generosity of the entire community, we now know why.
It would be impossible to mention everybody's name, but the family would like to send out our heartfelt "thanks." Regina spoke of her friends with great respect and we know how much you all meant to her.
Thank you Pagosa.
The Samples Family
The following is verbatim from a letter I recently sent to the Planning Commission of Archuleta County. Please include it in your "letters" section of your fine paper.
We live in Houston, Texas, and Mesa, Arizona. Needless to explain why we have spent our last 16 summers at Elk Meadows Camp Ground near your wonderful town of Pagosa Springs.
The quiet surroundings, clean air and water, and the pleasant environment of the San Juan Valley are unmatched. We have traveled the U.S., Canada and Alaska, and we come back to Elk Meadows.
We read in the Pagosa SUN that a proposed cement bulk plant may operate very near Elk Meadows and the river. That would ruin our favorite camp ground. Some years ago a gravel pit operated in the river nearby. There was noise, dust, a dirty river, and trucks entering the highway, which caused a definite traffic hazard.
We realize that cement bulk plants are a requirement for growth, but not at the expense of the surrounding community. There are many other locations, near town, in industrial parks, that would well serve the purpose. Please do not allow this plant, at this location.
John and Billye Ahrens
We would like to remind the residents of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County that Big Brothers/Big Sisters is available to serve the children of your community. Our program matches positive adult mentors to boys and girls ages 6 to 17 from primarily single-parent homes.
The volunteer "Bigs" provide friendship, companionship, guidance, and understanding to their "Littles." The matches meet two to four times a month and participate in a variety of activities that they both enjoy. The relationship is structured around a committed, fun, one-on-one friendship. Studies have shown that children do better with a network of caring adults to nurture and encourage them, and our program provides this. Statistics indicate that children matched to a mentor are significantly less likely to use drugs, begin alcohol use, skip school, or hit someone. In the end, the child, the volunteer, and the community all benefit from the program because our goal is making a difference one child at a time.
To find out more about becoming involved in the program as either a Big or Little, we invite you to attend our informational ice cream "Round Up" at Pagosa Town Park on July 12 at 7 p.m. Pagosa residents can also call our office at 264-5077 for further information. We hope to see or hear from Pagosans soon.
The Staff at Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Our future home
When our daughter began her freshman year at Colorado College, my wife and I agreed that each year when we visited her for parents' weekend we would attach an exploratory tour to the itinerary. After four of these tours, when she would have graduated, we expected we would have some idea about where to buy our retirement property.
Having heard about Pagosa Springs from a friend, we made it our first destination. Before we visited any properties with our realtor, Mike Heraty, my wife and I shook hands and agreed that we would buy no properties on this trip, no matter what. By day's end, we had signed papers making us the owners of Pagosa Springs property. We felt, intuitively, that this is where we were meant to retire.
When each issue of the Pagosa SUN arrives at our Miami home we savor it and fantasize about our future home. It has been with some concern that we have followed the development of the concrete batch plant issue. The dialectic between preservation and resource usage is the primary issue of concern for the entire western United States. We hope that Pagosa Springs resolves the matter of the batch plant, and similar decisions that will inevitably arise, with an eye toward preserving for future generations the pristine beauty that caused my wife and I to impulsively buy property in Pagosa Springs the very first day we arrived.
For the first time in our 23 years in Pagosa I finally understand why a lot of people building additions, etc. do so without getting a county permit. Wanting to do things legally we applied for a building permit complete with specifications to both the county building inspector and the PLPOA for a cover for our deck to keep the snow off. We got the county building permit June 13th.
Yesterday (June 26) our contractor started work. Today the county inspector changed his mind and said the permit he had signed was invalid.
We never would have started the work had we known ahead of time that the permit we paid money for and that he signed wasn't going to be worth the paper it was written on. So be warned folks. Extra expenses or even the loss of the project (already started) could be facing you because of the extra expense.
I am a NIMBY
For Mr. Jim Sawicki's information, I am a NIMBY and the only registered Democrat in the county. So it looks like I will be voting for one of those millionaire, pro-development Republicans for county commissioner. I am one of those nearly extinct dinosaurs who vote, no matter what.
Of course, Pagosa needs a cement plant, and I believe the plant should be sited at the location of the present SUN office. From this location it would be a simple matter to concrete over downtown Pagosa, making it into a nice freeway with cloverleaf off ramps and no stop lights. Thereby solving the traffic congestion problem, at least temporarily.
I am pleased to report to Mr. Sawicki that the exorbitant fees charged by the State Park Service keep out the riff raff and the rich folks who now get into trouble have cell phones and towing insurance. Good thing too. Since I broke my arm, my shoveling has been sub-par.
Editor's note: Your shoveling remains right up there with the best of the stable hands.
Rarely do we give praise where it is due. However, here is my Century Telephone story.
About two weeks ago we had a telephone problem at the Colorado Housing Inc. office. We called customer service in La Junta and were told it would be three days. Because we needed quicker repair if possible, I went to the CenturyTel office on Lewis Street. I explained the problem to the super efficient receptionist and received a call later from the supervisor.
We had the phone back on line in about six hours. Thank you, to our local CenturyTel work force.
Raymond P. Finney
Yard sale advice
Just a cautionary note for whom it might benefit. Summer is now in full swing and the yard, garage and barn sales are in full swing. We have had several of all the above types of sales and in spite of some problems, they turned out fair.
There are a lot of serious and honest people who race to be first - but - there are a few who, if they can't buy the items for a nickel, dime or a quarter, they will steal a lot of items if not watched. Those who do such things will know who they are when they read this.
My wife and I tried to handle some large crowds by ourselves - alas - to no avail! We, while busy, saw many people walking off with items not paid for and we were helpless.
My advice is - please - get one or two other couples to assist in conducting the operation and maybe, keep some people honest.
I hope my advice may be of help.
Clarence and Martha Layne Givens
In our (NIMBY) struggles concerning the concrete batch plant, it seems to me that there are some serious gaps in the planning, approval, monitoring and follow up for not following the rules and process of projects that come before Archuleta County.
"Grandfathering" seems to make a mockery of the entire planning process. Also, we have been told by the planning department that they are not the "watchdogs." This leaves us wondering who are the "watchdogs," how is follow-up conducted and reported and what happens if someone does not follow the correct procedure? Our fears are that there are many things that just slip through the cracks or just get retroactively approved. And also, that no one really follows up on projects to see if water, air, noise, etc. falls into the parameters that the county commissioners approved - other than if private citizens call the state or federal agency that is responsible.
While one county department may do some of this, there doesn't seem to be a central gathering place with authority to do something. It would seem to me that the planning department and/or another department should have responsibility for the following in order to make sure things get done efficiently and correctly:
1. Should have county, state, and federal standards for air, water, noise, traffic, etc. specific to the application that goes with the request to the planning commission.
2. Should demand that the applicant prove how he/she will meet these standards and that the burden of proof should be on the applicant.
3. Should have a plan and procedure in place for follow up and monitoring.
4. Should have a plan and procedure in place for action if the applicant does not follow the standards.
5. Monitoring reports should be periodically brought back to the county commissioners and published.
Water pollution is a good example. What are the standards? What are the current river numbers? How often are they monitored and by who? While any one project may meet standards, the cumulative effect could be detrimental to our health especially when the Vista water plant comes on line. Why aren't they published in the newspaper on a regular basis?
The county government, the county's money and how it's being wasted. Last week the sheriff asked the commissioners for money to hire two officers and to buy two vehicles.
This came about because the PLPOA terminated the contract with the sheriff. The contract was entered with the PLPOA only because they thought we wanted the added protection. Well we didn't and now the sheriff thinks he needs the extra man power anyway.
The county manager spoke up last week and stated that the income over budget for the year was down to $206,638.68 and the cost of two additional officers would leave the county $66,638.68 for the remaining six months. He also stated that we really do not have the funds this year nor would he be sure that the funds were there for next year. Two out of the three county commissioners have voted for the contract with PLPOA and will now vote for the additional officers knowing that the money is not there. These two commissioners' actions are irresponsible and they need to be replaced when you go to vote this fall.
Now this week at the commissioners meeting (June 26) the sheriff is still asking for two officers and now three vehicles. Here is the bigger picture. Chairman Crabtree stated to the sheriff that he now knows that an existing deputy is leaving. The sheriff responded by asking who and when and said the chairman knows more about his office than he does.
I don't believe the sheriff didn't know this. What I do believe is that they were preparing for two officers leaving and then have the funds granted to them for two more officers.
Bottom line is that this will go through even if its wrong. You will not be getting any better coverage with these officers, just spending money they don't have. They have nine patroling officers now and can't schedule 24-hour coverage nor can they send the nearest officer to a call. Instead they send one that lives down in Arboles to a call on south U.S. 84 in Chromo. Why give them extra officers when they can't manage the office properly?
And as for the man from California that spoke up for the sheriff and compared Pagosa Springs to California law enforcement tactics - most of you came here to get away from what you left and now it's being changed into what you wanted to get away from so I can see why you think this extra manpower is needed.
Remember to vote.
'After the fact'
Fact. The existing, constructed Weber concrete batch plant, located on the banks of the German brown trout filled San Juan River and along the scenic pristine Wolf Creek Pass corridor, was built to its existing stage by the Weber family without one single, prior approved county building permit.
1. After the fact of its completion to its present stage, the county issued a permit for the concrete retaining wall which is part of the concrete batch plant's permanent hopper/mixer support structure. The county has thus issued a building permit for a concrete batch plant structure, which has not been granted the necessary conditional-use permit to even exist in the first place, nor had proper review by all mandated respective jurisdictional agencies, required by state and county statute for such uses of environmental concern and safety.
2. The Archuleta County commissioners, county manager and staff, when questioned privately and in open public hearing about Weber's construction of a concrete batch plant, without the Webers even applying for a permit prior to its construction, answer in consort, that the concrete batch plant is agriculture, and the Webers did not need a permit.
3. The Weber's "after the fact" application for a conditional-use permit, now pending before the Archuleta commissioners and county staff, (presented after its construction), states clearly by the Weber family that the Webers have contemplated construction of a concrete batch plant, at this site, since 1997. Agricultural huh? Sure podnah, city slickers will buy it. Look the other way. Better hurry and slide this through before we get zoning "round these here parts, and that dadburn new land use plan in process, too."
4. Hello? Who's minding the store? Doesn't add up? How's your math? I hope the voters in the upcoming election will sum up a better answer - vote.
And by the way, did all you folks know that the county is about to give you a beautiful new auto salvage junkyard at the gateway into town, which has surface and subsurface water seepage running through its junkyard storage area parking lot, that will run off auto oils, grease, transmission fluid, etc., directly into the San Juan River via an existing irrigation ditch, just upstream from town? Planning commission passed Buckskin Towing's application two weeks ago. Sent it on to the commission for approval. Drip, drip, pollute.
Vision. Planning. Stewardship of land. Common sense. Something is terribly wrong. Colorado: they aren't makin' any more of 'em, folks.
This ain't the cowboy way, no way, podnah.
Colorado ranch native
Our abandoned but now renewed committee to select the "Brain Dead Society" award feels compelled to recommend the commissioners of Archuleta County for turning down the sheriff's request for two additional deputies to replace the three retiring PLPOA cops thereby giving our overall community less than adequate public safety.
As has been their habit, they can't make a decision on the obvious until they take 30 days or much more at which time they decide what they could have in the initial proposal. We'll get two more deputies, and there is money to do it, after we've been short changed for a month or more of police protection. I wonder if their inability to do their job in a timely manner is part of the insane cement plant going up in a residential area east of town.
On the bright side, their appointment of Tina White to coordinator of the Senior Center is a positive move. Congratulations Tina.
Lee B. Sterling
I remember when
I remember a time in Pagosa Springs when the sound of the sawmill whistle echoed down every canyon for miles, when you could drive down Piedra Road and just drive off of it at any given point. I remember when John Motter was just another employee at the Pagosa SUN, still run by Mr. Glen Edmonds, and there were only a couple of cafe's in the whole county. The people here were hard working and friendly, a wave from every car that passed by.
Although these times have gone just as fast as a good night's sleep, what drew people to this area was the beautiful scenery, a good school system, and most of all the type of people that were here to begin with. We watched on as roads were paved, land was developed and our fishing holes were posted "Private Property Keep Out."
There's so much traffic that you can hardly turn left out of any intersection and now you want to keep industry out so we might have to find work "maybe 30 miles south of here." Well, all I can say is that I wish there had been NIMBYs here when the NIMBYs moved in.
Maybe it would have resolved this whole problem back then.
Thanks Pagosa for the warm receptions and expression of appreciation that was showered upon me for doing what I love to do. I am sincerely grateful for the support, encouragement and enthusiasm that you expressed.
I left beautiful Pagosa with some super sweet memories. I bumped into people that I have not seen, like forever. It was so great to be with all of them, and to meet others for the first time. This trip was the most gratifying, emotionally rewarding, and soul-satisfying visit I've ever made to Pagosa.
This particular adventure ultimately revolves around a new generation of unique individuals that are our future in one way or another, and it is the awesome responsibility of the powers that be to provide a positive direction for them to funnel their exuberant energies, as in the completion of the BMX track in particular, but not limited to. I will be forever grateful to have had the joy of getting to know and hang with many unique and impressive people such as Kyle Frye, Drew Mitchell, Josh Ortega, Ryan Ramsey and Seth Wilsey who helped in the show at the Fiesta.
Then there's the girls like Joetta Martinez, Ammie Carrillo, Trish Wolf, Jessica Espinosa and my own niece, Gillian Yanez-Berrich, who I admire and commend for getting involved in a positive way to build community spirit.
I am proud to see a mixture of local and newcomer involvement and would like to encourage more locals to get involved in the Fiesta.
I would like to encourage all generations to "pick up the torch" and carry on traditions of all flavors.
My mom, Lucy Gonzales, Fiesta Club's current president, has sincerely expressed her desire to step aside and just enjoy the festivities. Someone please take her torch and continue the hard work and dedication she assumes with each Fiesta that she participates in. I admire Mom's hard efforts that she has willingly and joyously channeled throughout the years to help this marvelous Fiesta become what it is.
From a humble beginning, it has become a tradition in its own right. In 1980, three families - my Mom's, Fermin Villareal's and Ruth Marquez's - gathered in Town Park on September 26 to celebrate the actual day of Mexican independence.
Mom had approached Mrs. Marquez, who created the high school's Spanish Club to combine efforts for the embryonic Fiesta. That September 26 was a cold, rainy day, so the next year's Fiesta was moved to August. That didn't work much better, so it moved to June. Anyway, someone please take over Mom's torch so she can rest.
I want to thank Terry and Kendall at ACE Hardware for their donated support that enabled the BMX show to happen. Thanks also to Larry at Bike and Glide for his commitment and support of the show and BMX sport in general. I thank the Man Above for blessing me with my place in life.
God bless you and thank you.
Serafin A. "Butch" Chavez, 52, died Friday, June 23, 2000, at Mercy Medical Center in Durango.
Mr. Chavez was born Feb. 16, 1948, in Pagosa Springs, the son of Ted and Ester Chavez. He divided his time living in both Durango and Pagosa Springs, worked in construction most of the time, and did masonry work.
He is survived by his mother, Ester Matuz; sisters Virginia Griego of Hesperus, Mary Jane Chavez of Pagosa Springs, Frances Chavez of Durango, Annette Chavez of Albuquerque and Debbie Chavez of Blanco, N.M.; brothers, Yogi Chavez of Denver and Cogi Chavez of Bloomfield, N.M.; aunts, uncles and numerous nieces and nephews.
A mass of Christian Burial was held Wednesday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Pagosa Springs with Father John Bowe officiating. A rosary service was held at the church Tuesday evening.
On July 3, Richard B. Faubion and Claudia J. Bishop will be married.
Ms. Bishop is originally from the New York metropolitan area, having been born and raised, gone to college and worked in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. She moved to Pagosa Springs in May 1995. Ms. Bishop is the publisher of Connections Magazine and the Welcome Guide to Pagosa Springs.
Mr. Faubion was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech and holds an MBA. He sold his business in Houston in 1998 and moved to Pagosa Springs, purchasing Garrett's Appliances, renaming it Mountain Home Maytag. He has operated the store since that time.
The couple met at the Pagosa Springs Rotary Club where they have both functioned as chairs of various fund raising and community activities. The groom is past president of his Rotary club in Houston.
The couple is currently building a new home and will reside in Pagosa Springs.
Catherine Michelle Struve of Pagosa Springs was among the 3,551 students graduating last month from the University of Iowa.
Struve received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance.
The summer season for youth baseball ends tonight with a season-ending party.
At the party, players will eat together and return uniforms and equipment. All sponsors are encouraged to attend. Everyone attending, and returning uniforms, will receive free tickets to the Fourth of July carnival, which opens tonight. The 6 p.m event is at Town Park and will be a pot luck for all teams. Drinks will be provided.
The only baseball game scheduled is the Expos vs. Dulce, 7 p.m. July 6. The season-ending tournament will start July 13 and be played through July 20. Schedules for the tournament will be available at the party, and will be posted at the Sports Complex and Town Hall. The Senior League will travel to Alamosa for a July 8 doubleheader.
Adult teams will play tonight. No adult softball games will be scheduled next week due to the holiday. Play will resume July 10. Check updated schedules at the Sports Complex. The Sport Complex Hotline, with information on rainouts, updated schedules and other items is 264-6658. Call this number after 5 p.m.
Inline hockey registration for local youngsters is open until July 7. Registration forms can be picked up at the parks and recreation office at Town Hall. Practices begin July 10 at South Pagosa Park with a meeting for coaches and players. Fundamentals of roller hockey, passing, shooting and skating techniques will be emphasized. Sanctioned equipment is mandatory, including hockey helmet with face guard, mouth guard, elbow pads, kneepads and gloves.
Four Corners Cup
The next Four Corners Cup mountain bike race will be held July 8 in Monticello, Utah. Registration forms are available at Town Hall. For more information about the Four Corners Cup log on to 4cornerscup.com and update yourself on the mountain bike series.
The Four Corners Cup is a mountain bike race series with events in all Four Corners states. Pagosa Springs' race will be the last race of the series and will be run Sept. 24 in conjunction with ColorFest weekend. For more information about the race contact Doug Call at 264-4151.
River Center Park
Ponds at the River Center Park were stocked for the last time this season with 700 fish weighing approximately one pound each. The fish seem to be biting on power bait and worms. Catch and keep limit for the ponds is two fish. A state license is required for anyone 15 or older.
A fire and smoking ban has been posted on Reservoir Hill because of the existing dry conditions. Please keep this park safe and free of fire by observing this ban.
Town crew members and volunteers are busy working on a downhill bike course for an Aug. 19 race scheduled on the Hill. The trail cut, starts at the radio towers on Trail 13, then cuts through the trees coming out at the cabin. It then follows Trail 7 to Trail 1 which goes straight downhill from the water tower. Over 100 racers are expected to attend the two-day race in August. For more information contact the recreation office at 264-4151.
Volleyball Club summer practices begin July 6
By Karl Isberg
The Pagosa Springs Volleyball Club summer practice season begins July 6 with sessions at the Pagosa Springs High School gym.
According to coach Penné Hamilton, local volleyball players will practice an average of two sessions per week through the month of July, with final practices held Aug. 1.
Hamilton will be joined on the club staff by Shelly Wedemeyer and Connie O'Donnell. The three form the Lady Pirates coaching staff during the high school volleyball season, guiding a program that compiled one of Colorado's best records through the second half of the 90s and that has become one of Colorado's elite Class 3A programs.
Players participate in one of two age divisions. The division for younger players includes youngsters who will enter the fifth through eighth grades next school year. The division for older players includes athletes in grades nine through 12.
Younger players concentrate on development of basic volleyball skills. The first session for the younger players is 4 to 5:30 p.m. July 6.
Older players develop advanced skills and deal with the strategies involved in higher levels of competition. Older players meet for the first time 6 p.m. July 6.
All players attending the July 6 practices should come prepared to play.
Club fee is $20 per player, payable at the first meeting.
The full club schedule will be distributed July 6.
Older club players will have the opportunity to attend a camp July 10, 11 and 12, conducted by members of the University of Colorado varsity volleyball coaching staff. Fee for that camp is $80.
For more information, call Hamilton on weekends at 264-2441 or Wedemeyer at 731-2078.
Plenty of hoiday activities for all
Check out our other Preview article this week and an article in the SUN to make sure you don't miss any of the activities during the upcoming fun-filled holiday.
There will be much to occupy your time from Friday through Tuesday: the Arts and Crafts Festival in Town and Centennial Parks with over 75 vendors; a carnival on the soccer field across from Town Park; the 51st Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday), the Rotary Parade at 10 a.m.Tuesday; and a picnic, concert and fireworks display at Pagosa Lodge on the evening of July 4. Our very own Pagosa Hot Strings will entertain us at the Lodge beginning at 7 p.m. and will play until the fireworks display at dusk. All in all, it's one of Pagosa's finest weekends, so please join us for all the fun and games.
If you have driven past the Visitor Center, you surely have noticed that our parking lot is especially lovely with the new blacktop and parking lines. We have Troy Ross and his crew to thank for doing such a fine job in getting us ready for a busy summer.
We also want to thank Crista Munro and Dan Appenzeller for the two new signs they created for the highway intersection and Visitor Center. The old ones were in sore need of an update, and Crista and Dan did just that. Thanks for the great work.
In addition, we just received our flags, which were once again sent to be repaired, so we'll be cookin' with gas when we get those up. Parking lot, flags, flowers and signs - sounds like we're set to conquer the summer.
We have three new members and four renewals to welcome this week before all the fireworks commence Tuesday evening at Pagosa Lodge. We have quite the long weekend coming up, so I hope you're conserving your energy so you can run from one event to another.
We welcome Lisa Davidson with Land Properties, Inc. located at 115 West Ninth Street in Durango. Lisa is a land specialist and welcomes your calls at 247-0006 or 385-1043. We're always happy to welcome our neighbors in Durango.
Another Durango neighbor, Janet Marie Clawson-Cano, joins us with Spirit Dancer Publishing/The Real Estate Guides, located at 1823 East Second Avenue in Durango. Janet is a publisher/graphics artist specializing in real estate and tourist magazines. She is also a freelance writer and photographer. You can reach Janet for more information at 970-259-9500.
Our good friend, Debi Hilsabeck with UPHM joins us with a second business, The Ministry House/Guest House, 184 Sweetwater in Twin Creek Village. The Ministry House is a cedar home overlooking Martinez Canyon offering lodging accommodations for individuals, families or small groups. This is a non-smoking facility with private bath, private deck and a sitting room with a fireplace. For more information about The Ministry House, please call 264-8746 or 731-5597.
Our renewals this week include Lenore Bright at the Ruby Sisson Memorial Library located at 811 San Juan Street; Mark and Angie Dahm with WolfTracks Bookstore and Coffee Company located at 63 North Pagosa Boulevard Suite B-10 in the Pagosa Country Center (check out their first anniversary celebration information that follows); Rosanne H. Pitcher with the Wolf Creek Ski Area; and Tod J. Kerr with Kayak Kerr Company locate at Heron Lake, ten miles southwest of Chama, New Mexico. Tod was just featured on the cover and in the last issue of Cross Currents Magazine, by the way. Nice going, Tod.
In an effort to recapture its rightful place as a number-one tourism destination in the United States, the state of Colorado is doing away with the Colorado Travel and Tourism Association and the Colorado Tourism Board and establishing the Colorado Tourism Office. As some of you might remember, in 1992 Colorado was the first state to eliminate tourism funding and its tourism office, and subsequently lost its edge as a leading summer resort destination.
On May 22, Governor Bill Owens signed House Bill 1224 which makes it official that Colorado will once again have a distinct, centralized entity responsible for the promotion of tourism in the state of Colorado. The CTTA and CTB will end operations on June 30, and the 13-member board of the new CTO will begin their work. Of the 13 board members, the governor has appointed eleven while the other two members still need to be selected from the Senate and the House of Representatives. The bill is designed with the intent that members of the board will represent diverse geographic areas, statewide associations and small business owners. This helps ensure that all communities and businesses, large and small, are represented in a state tourism office. Tourism is the second largest export industry in Colorado and thus becomes an important economic development factor statewide.
The CTO's tourism budget is $5.6 million this year compared to the $13 million Colorado enjoyed before the tourism office and tourism funding were eliminated in 1992.
Our pal Lori Madsen at Loredana's Italian Restaurant asked us to spread the word that her bakery is now open at 8a.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. She also wants you to know that her famous "Take and Bakes" are back. Loredana's is located at 1 Snowbird Lane, off Bastille Drive, and can be reached by phone at 731-5135.
Mark and Angie Dahm of WolfTracks Bookstore and Coffee Company invite you to join them for their first anniversary celebration tomorrow. They're anxious to thank all the folks in Pagosa Springs for the support and friendship extended to them this past year. They will be serving cake to all the loyal local folks at their store located at 63 North Pagosa Boulevard, Suite B-10, west of the City Market, in an effort to say, "Thank you, Pagosa!"
Don't forget that Saturday the gang at Curves for Women will be moving to a bigger space in the same building complex located at 117 Navajo Trail in the Silverado City Shopping Center behind the Hog's Breath Saloon. Come in and experience their Quickfit exercise program, a complete workout in just 30 minutes. Call April at 731-0333 or stop by with questions. Mention this article and receive an additional $10 off before July 31.
Gray Wolf Ski Club schedules holiday bash
Gray Wolf Ski Club will host its annual Fourth of July bash at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse on Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Food arrangements are as follows: the club will furnish the hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks. If you are attending, please bring a salad, appetizer, side dish or dessert to share, as well as your own table service. If the ice cream chefs present their creation again, there will be some awesome ice cream to pile on the pies. Joann Sager, one of the Gray Wolf Ski Club's anchor members, will be heading up the set-up and clean-up. If you can help, please call 731-2302.
The Gray Wolf Ski Club has had to change its policy regarding guest participation in club activities because of the huge number of members (almost 600). Guests other than immediate family members who wish to participate in club functions and go along on trips are asked to become members at the time of their request to participate. Annual club dues are $15 for a couple and $10 for a single.
Chris James from Australia will be bringing an evening of "transformation through sound" to a Pagosa audience on Saturday, July 1, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse. This evening of song and fun with the man from down-under will focus on getting participants to loosen up body, soul and voice. Contact Annalisa at 264-4285 for more information.
A new class - Step-Bo - combination of step aerobics and tae-bo will be introduced to Recreation Center members starting July 2, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Classes will be offered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday by certified instructor Shera Condon. The class is designed to increase strength and flexibility while fat-burning. Questions can be directed to instructor Shera at 264-9035.
This Friday and Saturday, the Pagosa Players and the Kings Men will present Romeo and Juliet at Lake Front Theatre at Pagosa Lodge. Show time begins at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available at the gate. This is an outdoor theatre so bring a box meal and comfortable seating. If you want to simplify the logistics, Chez Pagosa (731-4141) can provide boxed dinners. Other performances of Romeo and Juliet are scheduled for July 7, 8, 14 and 15. Tickets are on sale at Wolf Tracks, Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce and Plaid Pony in Pagosa Lodge.
I hope to see you at the 2nd annual Rotary Freedom Run on Tuesday, July 4. This 1K run or walk will precede the Fourth of July Parade. Runners and walkers of all ages and ability level are invited to participate. Each participant will receive a beautiful commemorative T-shirt. And if you are swift, you may even take home an apple pie, courtesy of City Market. Registration forms are available at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center and Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center. You may also register the morning of the run/walk in front of the Ruby Sisson Library at 9 to 9:30 a.m. Cost is $5 per participant and families with children are encouraged to be a part of this pre-parade event. For more information, call me at 731-2051 (work) or 731-4596 (home).
Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, will get underway on Friday, July 21, at 6 p.m. The 18-hour relay will continue through the night and finish on Saturday at noon. Get a group of your friends, family, co-workers or associates together as a relay team for an all-around good time to support an all-around good cause. This will be the 1st annual Relay for Life in Pagosa. Last year's was a successful premier event. For more information or to have a team packet delivered to you, contact Cheryl Nelson at 731-2277. Don't wait too long because you do want to have your team organized and sponsors contacted early.
The Recreation Center will be closed on Tuesday, July 4. The staff wishes all its members an enjoyable and relaxing Independence Day.
Beauty of Blanco in Gallery display
By Marlene Taylor
Our current showing at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council Gallery in Town Park captures the beauty of the Blanco Basin in incredible watercolor paintings and also brings nature itself to the viewer in the form of baskets woven from local Ponderosa pine needles.
The love that our featured artists have for their crafts is reflected in their works and the fact that they are good friends and neighbors makes this exhibit special to both of them.
Donna Brooks began sewing as a young child, making her own clothes as well as sewing for others. Today she sews with raffia, joining coils of Ponderosa pine needles together to create a basket - a masterpiece of form and function. Occasionally Donna will pound yucca leaves into a creamy white fiber to make a more traditional pine needle basket. The yucca is rare in this area and the process of making fiber is very time-consuming but the results are quite spectacular. Each basket is a work of art and its intricate designs express the love and energy of its creator. In addition, Donna will have other handmade items on display, such as willow deer, rawhide rattles, jewelry and more.
Ruth Carr began studying watercolors some fifteen years ago and since then has studied with many of the great teachers in this field. For many years the Blanco Basin has been her inspiration and home and she has painted it in every season, in heat or snow, from every angle, capturing the unique beauty of its enchanting landscape. Each of Ruth's watercolors will remind you of how fortunate we are to have such magnificent landscapes nearby and, perhaps, cause you to see them again in a new light - reflected from the canvas of an artist's love.
This exhibit will begin with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. today at the gallery. Come and meet these very talented ladies and enjoy the refreshments available. This exhibit will run through July 12 and is definitely a "must see."
The new summer hours at the gallery are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, through Labor Day. And just a reminder: the Gallery Gift Shop has arts and crafts by local Pagosa Springs artists only. Give a special gift from your home town.
There is a two-week exhibit time slot open at the gallery due to a cancellation. If you are interested in exhibiting your art in the PSAC gallery, please stop by and fill out an application as soon as possible.
The Chamber of Commerce and Arts Council SunDowner held June 28 was a big success, with delicious food and a great turnout! The works of the four featured artists were enjoyed by all.
Can you help?
Anyone interested in volunteering some time at the gallery (especially June 30 through July 4) should call Joanne at 264-5020. We appreciate any help.
Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare in the Pines will present William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" Friday and Saturday and again on July 7, 8, 14 and 15 at the Pagosa Lodge Lawn Theater. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. The professional quality of this production will astound the severest critic and will delight all lovers of excellent drama. You definitely won't want to miss this one!
The Pagosa Angel Box Painters meet 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the third Saturday of each month at the Community Bible Church. They paint "memory boxes" that are sent to hospitals where they are given to parents who have lost an infant child. The box is designed to keep the child's birth and death certificates, wristbands, footprints and any other items they can use to remember their child. Everyone is welcome. Contact Cathy Magin at 264-5597.
Nine seniors rafted the Animas successfully
Can you believe this year is passing so quickly - July 4th is almost here. The July 4th celebration/fireworks will be held at Pagosa Lodge and the senior bus will transport those who sign up in advance to the festivities, so be sure to let Payge know if you need to be picked up. This is really a great benefit - not having to worry about where to park and driving through the traffic.
Nine seniors went on the rafting trip down the Animas River last Thursday. We had a wonderful time. Even though the river is shallow due to lack of rain, there was still enough water for us to raft for two hours, get splashed, and return home safely after many laughs.
Beginning July 11, meals will be served on Tuesdays (as well as Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) at the Senior Center. We need volunteers to help with this so please call Payge or Tina if you are willing to donate a little time. For those of you who have not come for our meals, the price is $2.25 for those 60 and over, $4.50 for those under 60. The meals are delicious and nutritious. What a bargain!
We were happy to welcome Estelle and Millburn Nink to the Senior Center on Friday. They are visiting from Texas and we hope they can join us again soon. Also, we were happy to have Doris and Bob Kamrath back from their trip.
One of our newer members, Eldred Thomas, was selected as Senior of The Week. Congratulations to Eldred. We are happy to have her and her son, Barry, joining us recently.
We hope everyone will drop a thank you note to our politicians for the $14,856 the state made available to help us out (most of which is being used to provide the Tuesday meals and additional meals for those who are home-bound). In the past, the state has only contributed 5 percent toward matching federal funds for seniors. Most states contribute much higher percentages. We are hoping to convince our governor/senators/representatives that seniors need and deserve a larger contribution in coming years so we can provide services/meals/activities not currently available because of lack of funds. Address your appreciation notes to: Sen. Jim Dyer, State Capitol, 200 East Colfax, Room 274, Denver, CO 80203; Rep. Mark Larson, State Capitol, 200 East Colfax, Room 300, Denver, CO 80203; and Gov. Bill Owens, State Capitol Building, Room 136, Denver, CO 80203-1792.
Cruising with CruseBy Katherine Cruse
Old hiking gear proves to be outmoded
Sometimes a backpack trip is a study in contrasts. Like the one Hotshot and I recently took. One other person went with us.
We haven't hit the backpack trail for several years. Our bodies aren't used to regular hiking. And our equipment hasn't been getting regular workouts either. In fact, I had to search the stray corners and closets to find some of it. And then I had to see if it still worked.
Hotshot was out of town all the week before our trip, so he wasn't part of the process. I tested the water pump, replaced the filter, and pumped the recommended 4 cups to make sure it was operating properly.
Then, against the manufacturer's advice and all laws of common sense, I fired up the backpacking stove - on the kitchen counter! Our stove needs a moment or two where it burns excess fuel to warm itself up. I stood there, watching bright yellow flames reach toward the bottom of the overhead cupboards, wondering how hot they were getting. But luck is with fools, sometimes. The varnish didn't blister, the stove flame settled down to the proper blue jet, and I pronounced the stove fit for use.
I pulled out our 15-year-old tent and counted poles and stakes, and sprayed the fly with waterproofing, and repacked it, ready to go. I always carry the poles and stakes, and Hotshot gets the heavier portion, the tent and fly.
I planned a menu, which admittedly was not that hard. Food for two lunches, one dinner and one breakfast. I checked the first aid kit, adding some painkillers for sore muscles. I waterproofed boots and gathered clothes. No rain was expected, but "Be Prepared" is my motto. We had rain gear and fleece and extra socks. I brought longjohns, too, just in case.
The last thing I did was stop at a hunting supply store and buy U.S.G.S. quadrangle maps of the area. When Hotshot came home, we only had to do a final check, set out our boots and hiking clothes, and we were ready to go.
At the trailhead, the three of us took our packs out of the car. The contrast was enormous. Hotshot and I had all the gear we normally take. Sleeping bags were strapped onto our pack frames, and tent parts and foam pads protruded from under the top flap. Our companion's packsack seemed almost empty. I carried more in my day pack. Where was his tent? Where was his sleeping bag? Didn't he understand that this trip included camping overnight?
I wondered if maybe he really hadn't backpacked before, despite his assurances that he knew how. Or maybe he expected to share the space in our tent? That would be cozy, indeed.
He said to us, "I hope you're not fast hikers, because I'm not."
"Don't worry," I assured him, relieved that he wasn't one of those hikers who sort of gallop down the trail.
However, I'm beginning to learn that when other people say they hike slowly, they really don't have a good standard to measure themselves against. When he comes to slow hiking, I win. So to speak.
For two days I trailed the guys, and they were considerate enough not to pull too far ahead before stopping to let me catch up. Maybe you know how that goes. You come puffing up the path, and just as you draw near enough to speak to them in a normal conversational tone of voice, off they go. And you're alone again.
The next little setback came at our campsite, when our water filter, the one that I had pronounced fit, didn't work.
We pumped and pumped, and the little handle went up and down, but no water flowed through. Thank goodness our companion's pump functioned. "I like to hike with a group," he murmured, as we filled our water jug. "Then we can help each other out."
But the real lesson in contrast came a little later, at dinner time. Hotshot and I had a one-pot meal, with different components added to the cooking pot at different times. Our little stove chugged away, and we checked and stirred numerous times during the 15 minute cooking period. Our companion boiled up water and poured it into a bag of freeze-dried chili and sat back and waited.
We spooned our food into Sierra cups. He ate right out of the bag. Afterwards, we washed dishes - cooking pot, stirring spoon, eating spoons and cups. He rinsed his spoon and was finished.
We put up our tent and filled it with foam pads, sleeping bags, extra clothing. He pulled a tarp and blanket out of his pack. That was a minimalist approach I hadn't seen for years. I didn't know people still camped that way. And in the morning, he was ready to go long before we even pulled the tent pegs out of the ground.
Since that trip I've done a lot of thinking about minimalism and ways to scale down the amount of weight I carry.
It's hard to know what to cut.
Leave the tent at home? Hotshot and I have used a tent since we started coming to Weminuche, because rain is always a possibility. Plus, at 12,000 feet, it's darn cold at night.
Forget the stove? I've read that some people just eat cold food on a trip and don't have to worry about stoves and fuel. But jeepers, no coffee in the morning?
How about the water filter? Some people leave that at home and purify their water with iodine. They claim you can get used to the taste. I've also heard you can get used to hanging, if you do it long enough.
Scaling down calls for hard choices.
On the other hand, if my pack weighed less, maybe I wouldn't hike quite so slowly.
Summer readers setting records; 300 expected
We've set a record already with just two weeks gone in our summer reading program. As I write this column on Monday, we have 287 readers signed up. We should enroll 300 at this rate.
Readers of the week are Stephanie Swenson, Mattie Aiello, Lyndsey Mackey, Arielle Rasmussen, Kyle Aragon, Silas Thompson, Kara Hollenbeck, Tessa Trusty, Tyler Cowan and Sienna Stretton. Julia Adams guessed the right number of books read last week. Forty six other people won contests. Please come in and check the poster with the winners' names.
Winners are posted every Monday by noon. New contests are available on Friday afternoons. We thank our various judges who help with the difficult job of naming the winners each week.
Free copies of seasonal catalogs from the government printing office are now available. These catalogs list publications that are free or inexpensive. This issue includes "ID theft: when bad things happen to your good name," "Guide to federal government sales," and "How to buy a home with a low down payment." There are many more pamphlets available to you.
Oprah's book club
This month, we have two new editions: "The Bluest Eye," by Toni Morrison, and "While I was Gone," by Sue Miller. Our thanks to Oprah, Knopf/Random House, and the American Library Association for these gifts.
On a lighter note, we have Al Roker's adventure in fatherhood, "Don't Make Me Stop this Car!" Al Roker may be one of the best-loved weathermen in the world. In this book, he introduces us to the three people he loves most. Mr. Roker lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.
How about learning how to "felt?" Felting is one of the most ancient textile crafts and also one of the easiest. All the information you need to start is here. It is a book for beginners, with instructions to teach children. The book,"Felt" presents the history and culture as well as the technique.
And how about politics? "If The Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is by Jim Hightower. He unmasks the candidates, the parties, the consultants, and especially the powers that support all of the presidential hopefuls. No one is spared in this blend of horror and success stories, and laugh-out-loud humor.
We have many wonderful new books and audiotapes for all ages. Mary, Cathy and Nancy are kept busy getting them processed and on the shelves
A quarterly newsletter from the University of Colorado Business Research Division has interesting articles about the long relationship our state has had with Hollywood. Between 1897 and 1923, hundreds of movies were filmed in our state. The articles give a brief history and a list of selected pictures filmed here. You may have a copy, just ask at the desk. Some of the well-known movies were "Viva Zapata," "Around the World in Eighty Days," "How the West Was Won," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," and "City Slickers."
Our state continues to court Hollywood and the millions of dollars that boost our economy. Canada and other foreign countries have also targeted this industry. They are benefiting from an advantageous rate of exchange. When one can save 35 cents on the dollar by traveling to foreign shores, a $10,000,000 budget can use some serious savings.
This intriguing newsletter explains the challenge of gardening in our mountainous state. I picked up a copy from the Extension Building for my own use and found it to be so informational that I am encouraging all newcomers to go out to Bill Nobles' office and pick up a copy. Bill and his staff run the local Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Office. It is located on U.S. 84 at the fair grounds.
Gardening here is limited by low humidity, winds, and soil properties as well as by the altitude and temperature. Visit the friendly staff out at the Extension Building and pick up lots of good information.
The Friends annual meeting and book sale is July 14 and we appreciate your donations. We can use books and other materials that are new and in good condition. . The public book sale is July 15. Join the Friends and you can attend the preview book sale the day before. This annual event helps support the book budget of the library.
Materials came from Mary Lou Sprowle, Tish Carl, Bill Miller, Wes Huckins, Mary Miller, Kathryn Bradley, Carla Richardson, Rachel Fulenwider, the Barcus Family, Joy Erickson, Don Mowen, Danny Cox and Marilyn Copley. Our thanks to all of you who continue to support the library in so many ways.
Thanks to all of Pagosa's great people
Ima Gurl (a.k.a. Kate Terry) is home.
It's so good to be home.
A month in any hospital is time enough, although the Heart Hospital of New Mexico in Albuquerque (that opened in October) is a wonderful place. All fifty rooms are an Intensive Care Unit and the care couldn't have been better.
I had a mitral valve replaced, a little repair on another valve and an incident, as the doctor called it, where they cleaned the blood behind the heart. And if that wasn't enough, I had to have my not-so-pretty gall bladder removed. Of course, a doctor from another hospital was called in for that.
The doctors were wonderful! Dr. Salim Walji did the heart surgery and Dr. Gopal Reddi pulled out the gall bladder.
But this is very important to me: to thank people for the overwhelming love and compassion shown me, for the flowers, the cards, the telephone calls, the relayed messages and the many visitors. My first, my very first thought, when I got out of surgery, was to get home and thank the wonderful people of Pagosa Springs. The feeling was overwhelming, simply overwhelming.
Although room doesn't allow for such a long list, and I wouldn't dare attempt it, because I might leave someone out, there is one group I can thank - those who donated blood: the firemen, the EMTs and the many others. The blood bank sent a card with names on it but I know that wasn't all of them. Simply put, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
A few people in Albuquerque need to be recognized. Joyce Aronson, who used to live in Pagosa Springs, opened her house to visitors who could spend the night. Carol and Richard Quillin, who lived here for two years and now live in Santa Fe, spent a lot of time with me. Special recognition goes to Peggy Vautier, who used to live here before she moved back to Albuquerque to join a medical firm. It was she who was visiting after work one day when she saw my head fall over. She took one look and called for "code blue" and people came running. That led to another visit to surgery.
As you know, Kay Grams took me to Albuquerque and stayed with me the whole month. Such devotion is overwhelming and beautiful. We are like sisters. Her husband, Warren Grams, the fire chief, and daughter Leslie Lattin were right there. My family, Peggy and Bill Laverty, were busy closing up the ranch house in Mason, Texas, and couldn't get up until after I went in for surgery, but they were there.
Again, I thank you all!
One funny thing happened that I want to tell you is that I was hallucinating. What's more, I knew that I was. But I kept trying to write a column! I'd write a bit and then say, "Kathryn, you don't want that, what did you do that for?" and then erase it with my hand. Someone suggested that I was anxious to get back to writing Local Chatter - so here I am.
P.S. Thanks to Karl Isberg and David Mitchell for keeping Kate's Calendar going and for pulling stuff from old columns to cover for me.
Fun on the run
Two little kids are in a hospital, lying on stretchers next to each other outside the operating room. The first kid leans over and asks, "What are you in here for?"
The second kid says, "I'm in here to get my tonsils out and I'm a little nervous."
The first kid says, "You've got nothing to worry about. I had that done when I was four. They put you to sleep, and when you wake up they give you lots of Jell-O and ice cream. Its a breeze!"
The second kid then asks, "What are you here for?"
The first kid says, "A circumcision."
And the second kid says, "Whoa! I had that done when I was born, couldn't walk for a year!"
Remembering Independence Day
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who
signed the Declaration of Five signers were captured by
the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.
Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told us a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't fight just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government. Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't.
So, take a few minutes while enjoying your Fourth of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.
Remember: freedom is never free. It's time Americans wake up to the fact that patriotism is not a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than rodeos, picnics and fireworks.
Hard head loses to soft bottom
It was the best of times.
It was the worst of times.
It was a tail of too many sittings.
Some days were miserable.
Others were less miserable.
As for me and my legs, pedaling 465 miles was too huge to go.
This year's Ride The Rockies experience was rather novel. My mind was more on the miles I didn't ride than on the ones I rode.
In one sense it's a cause and effect sort of thing.
'Cause the wind wore me out on Day 2, I wasn't very effective on Day 3. By Day 5 I hit the wall.
Cynthia and I had agreed beforehand we would enjoy the ride rather "kill ourselves," but I forgot.
Despite having to change a flat late Saturday night after arriving in Trinidad, Day 1 started off smoothly. Except for slight head wind, Sunday was a great day.
The evening-before drive to Trinidad provided my first view of this area. A 4-by-4 bull elk near the crest of the pass had served as an impressive welcoming committee of one. Riding in the opposite direction at a much slower pace Monday offered some enjoyable sights.
Cuchara Valley's green pastures have thus far escaped being enhanced by subdividers.
The valleys and mountain sides are yet to be made pristine and scenic by new dwellings.
The for sale signs were noticeable by their absence.
Some 48 miles, about 4,000 feet of elevation gain and about four and a half hours after departing the parking lot at Trinidad High School, the crest of Cuchara Pass made for a most welcome sight.
Looking back, the descent into Cuchara and on into La Veta proved to be the No. 1 high point of my week.
As I smugly pedaled to Walsenburg High School to conclude the 82-mile first day, I too easily forgot that pride comes before the fall.
Being more than familiar with watching the deer and the antelope play alongside U.S. 160 on the east side of La Veta Pass, Cynthia repeated Sunday's regimen and elected to drive the van to Alamosa Monday. She's wise beyond her years.
The only thing I had going for me Monday was well-aged stubbornness. I proved to the relentless head wind that I was hard headed. In turn, the blustering gale revealed that I was soft bottomed.
The winds were such that the 47-mile descent from the crest of North La Veta Pass almost matched the difficulty of the morning's 28-mile climb to the top.
Day 2's ride to Alamosa proved to be the beginning of the end - my end.
On Day 3, by the time I reached Villa Grove, after 56 more miles of pedaling against the wind, my resolve had dissolved. Rather than pedal the remaining 14 miles to the top of Poncha Pass, I succumbed to catching a ride in a "SAG Wagon."
It was a toss up as to which hurt most, my bottom or my pride.
To my pleasurable surprise, the rest stop atop Poncha Pass provided the week's high point No. 2.
Some folks with the Colorado Potato Growers Association were handing out free baked potatoes.
The San Luis Valley spuds tasted great, but the most refreshing aspect was seeing Pagosa's always smiling Shirley Mateer - the promotional power behind the public relations gig. Shirley also had recruited John and Jenny Schoenborn and Marty and Paula Miser to help handout the hot potatoes.
It's always refreshing to discover some fellow Pagosans at the most unexpected places. But nothings as refreshing as being back in Pagosa. And my bottom line tells me, it needs some major R and R - rest and restoration.
Know you are loved and please keep us in your prayers. David
25 years ago
Bear knocks out teenager
Taken from SUN files of July 3, 1975
A 16-year-old, Collin Perkins, was struck by a bear last week while working on a fence. Young Perkins said the bear approached within about three feet and he then picked up a stick and hit the bear. The bear hit the young man, knocking him cold, and was gone by the time Perkins regained consciousness.
Carlos LaVarta, a member of Colorado Mounted Rangers Troop F of Pagosa Springs, was presented a special award and plaque at the Mounted Ranger's meeting last Thursday. Mr. LaVarta was presented the plaque upon having completed his 200th emergency run to hospitals in the area with accident victims, seriously ill patients and others with the Mounted Ranger's ambulance. He is an emergency medical technician, having completed the EMT course last year.
Police Chief Leonard Gallegos has reported several acts of vandalism the past several weeks. He is therefore serving notice that the town's curfew ordinance will be strictly enforced.
National Youth Corps workers for the school district are building a rock facing on the hillside entryway to the elementary school. This work will give the area an improved appearance and will also help in preventing erosion.
Williams Creek Reservoir
As we go full speed ahead into the month of July and the traditional Independence Day celebrations get underway, crowds of visitors will descend upon the town. Many will dust off their cowboy hats and boots and attend the annual Red Ryder Roundup. Others will enjoy the parade which has to be one of the best small-town America has to offer. Still others look forward with anticipation to the arts and crafts show, fireworks, quilt show and carnival. And then there are those who will head out of town to take advantage of the great outdoors Pagosa has to offer. A popular place for people to converge is Williams Creek Reservoir.
The following information about the reservoir was first presented in a 1995 Legacies:
On Sunday, Aug. 30, 1959, the Mullins Dam was dedicated.
When officials planned to build the dam, the state purchased 780 acres of land. A large amount was set aside for recreational areas. The lake would be the largest state-owned lake when finished.
The dam cost $425,000 to build, including the amount spent to purchase the land. It was planned as a narrow outlet to a naturally existing basin. At its completion in 1958, the dam was 21-feet wide at the top and 560-feet long.
In April of 1959, the Colorado Game and Fish Department announced it would start planting fish in the lake as soon as the roads were passable for the stock truck. The fish would be a minimum of 2-inches long. Officials expected the fish to be 7-inches long by Sept. 1. The lake would be stocked very heavily in its first year of existence. Predictions were that fishing in 1960 would be excellent, but that Mullins Lake would not be at its best until the following year.
Officials announced that after the completion of the improvements around the lake, there would be camping areas for a thousand or more persons. Predictions were that it would become one of the largest tourist attractions in Colorado.
The Mullins Dam was named for Earl Mullins of Pagosa Springs. He served on the State Game and Fish Commission for six years. He worked very hard for years to get the commission to build the dam here.
And so, where are Mullins Lake and Dam?
In the April 2, 1959, issue of the SUN, editor Glen Edmonds reported the Game and Fish Department had made a mistake in writing the regulations for the lake. They referred to it as Williams Creek Lake, not Mullins Lake. He also reported officials were not happy with the name change. Edmonds continued to refer to the lake as Mullins Lake.
However, at the Sunday, Aug. 30, dedication, the Mullins Dam and Williams Creek Reservoir were the official names. At the time of the dedication, Williams Creek Reservoir was about two-thirds full and stocked with almost a half million fish.
Have a safe a happy Fourth of July, however you decide to celebrate.
This is a baker's dozen of casual observations of life in modern Pagosa Country:
(1) Whoever was in charge of cleanup both during and after Spanish Fiesta events in Town Park did a tremendous job. The park was clear of all litter, despite record crowds, by 6 a.m. Sunday.
Unfortunately, the team which cleared the area was not responsible for picking up the deposited litter on Hermosa Street east of the park where many Fiesta-goers parked for the celebration.
Several neighbors were out Monday picking up empty beer cases, empty beer bottles and other forms of debris left behind by celebrants who obviously didn't want that stuff in their vehicles.
(2) One wonders what kind of personality inhabits a person who approaches a governmental building, sees a no-smoking sign and lights up a stogie which leaves an overpowering stench in the air for hours.
One local resident (name unknown) has been seen several times doing just that as he enters the Post Office. Sometimes he arrives with his foul-smelling cigar already lighted and you wonder why he feels the sign is not intended for him. Even the Postal employees who smoke go outside to do so on their break time.
(3) While on the Post Office scene, it is worthwhile noting the sign barring bicyclists, skateboarders and in-line skaters has been removed - again. The youngsters love to use the loading dock ramp for late evening practice. The sign has been removed at least three times and not by postal authorities.
(4) The race for county commissioner spots is increasing foot traffic in all neighborhoods as candidates go door-to-door handing out leaflets and establishing their point of view.
One such hopeful may have lost any chance he had of winning a supporter when he parked his vehicle in a private parking area while he paced the neighborhood. The residents had cleared a spot for visiting relatives and he apparently felt it was open for his use.
(5) A new hazard (or perhaps an old hazard renewed) has appeared recently on streets in both downtown and in the Pagosa Lakes area.
Youngsters riding motorized scooters have been seen riding into and out of traffic and ignoring traffic signals on streets near the high school sports complex. They've also complicated matters for drivers and pedestrians in the Pagosa Center complex at Pagosa Lakes where the daredevils roar in and out of parking lot traffic and right up onto the sidewalk in front of the supermarket and adjacent businesses.
(6) Along the same lines, there seems to have been a hot weather spurt of youngsters - obviously too young to be piloting a machine on the streets - driving ATVs around the North Fifth and Juanita Street neighborhoods, and along Cemetery Road north of the cemetery. They, too, have been seen weaving into and out of traffic and shooting out of private property into the path of oncoming vehicles.
(7) No matter how much some people complain about growth in the area, many seem to forget the implications and consequences of that growth.
Some, it seems, are still living in the era when Pagosa had no stop lights, no traffic jams, and no reason not to cross the street in the middle of the block. Every day one can see people crossing without using one of the provided cross walks. Every one is risking his or her life, ignoring the huge volume of traffic which now plies US 160 through town at all hours of day and night.
Brakes screech, horns honk and the pedestrians crossing illegally look up at drivers as if they were totally at fault.
(8) On the other side of the coin, it is apparent some drivers either can't read or choose to ignore strategically located traffic control signs. Several times a day, for example, drivers attempt to leave the parallel off-street parking area downtown by going out the southwest entrance (clearly marked entrance only) and on at least two occasions, I've seen drivers trying to enter that area from the northeast exit onto Hot Springs Boulevard.
(9) The speed limit on San Juan Street as it curves to become Pagosa Street downtown is posted at 15 mph but rarely will you find anyone driving that slowly. Several people I asked were unaware of the 15 mph limit.
Perhaps the sign needs to be moved closer to the intersection instead of the current location just west of Lewis Street. One truck driver told me he had always assumed the sign was intended for traffic turning off U.S. 160 onto Lewis and that "any nut should know to slow down going around a corner as sharp as the one by the courthouse."
(10) Have you noticed how the grass continues to turn brown even though the lawn is watered regularly (under existing restrictions, of course); but let it rain just once and the brown begins to disappear?
Could it possibly be attributed to the chemicals in the water we drink and put on the lawn? Is that why so many people now resort exclusively to bottled water for their own consumption?
(11) The talents of this community are as abundant and varied as the divergent birthplaces of its residents. Whether musical, artistic, athletic, scholarly, entrepreneurial, supervisory or one of the growing family of medical professionals, it is a talent pool I believe beyond compare for an area it's size.
Plan a stage show, a production of a dramatic opus, a musical, an art show or a new athletic team, and you'll find those who are willing and even eager to participate. Need a scout leader, a 4-H leader, a friendly ear to hear your troubles, a new outlook on an old problem? Make your intention or need known and someone will give you an answer or helping hand.
(12) That leads to another conclusion: You never know how many friends you have until faced with an emergency.
Suffer a serious illness, loss of a loved one, a financial disaster or campaign for some worthy cause. People (sometimes even those you've never met or heard of) will come to your aid.
Need a volunteer for a charity event? Want to find a way to care for a loved one without putting the person in a home? Need to get rid of unsightly debris? You name the legitimate problem and people of Pagosa Country will rally to your support.
Most often, it is without any expectation of praise or remuneration. In fact, the more anonymity the better. It is simply the way things are done in small town USA.
(The baker's bonus) An unidentified caller offered this new definition for the famous phrase Pagosa Time: P(resent) A(ny) G(ripes) O(penly) S(o) A(ll) T(ownspeople) I(mmediately) M(ention) E(mpathy)!
By John M. Motter
Rimmed by bare mountain crags separated by verdant aspen groves, the Upper Blanco Basin is one of those high mountain valleys that tempt urban visitors to sell the three-bedroom suburban dream back home and move to the country.
Across the valley bottom, smiling green meadows that stretch from valley wall to valley wall seem to share a secret with the Blanco River, a giggling infant toddler bouncing along to join the Silvery San Juan.
Beautiful, indeed, the Upper Blanco, but not pristine. The look is deceiving and perhaps relative according to the experience of the beholder. In truth, the valley has cradled settlers for well over 100 years, probably as long as 120 years. Just as in the rest of the world, change rules the Blanco Basin.
I've never learned who were the first settlers of the Upper Blanco, or when they arrived. Raymond Brown told me once that his uncle, Maurice O. Brown, discovered the Basin and "met an old trapper coming out as he went in."
The Upper Blanco is one of only three high mountain valleys located in Archuleta County. The others are the valleys of the upper Navajo River and the Rito Blanco. A small valley surrounds the Rito Navajo as it disappears into the Chalk Mountains.
By the 1920s, several ranchers lived in the Upper Blanco Basin, enough to warrant one, or even two schoolhouses. One of the school buildings reposed on Gobbler's Knob on the east side of the river. The other sat north of the road on the north side of the river, perhaps a mile upstream from the bridge and across the road from the Red and Ruby Sisson place. Ruby Sisson is well known locally, having taught for decades in local schools. The county library is named for her. In earlier days, she taught in the Blanco schoolhouse. That building now awaits restoration at the Fred Harman Art Museum located at the top of Put Hill west of town.
Raymond Brown, son of Raymond and Faye Brown, started his school life at the Blanco Basin school. During those years, the Browns lived near Fish Creek, perhaps a mile and a half from the east side of the river and upstream from the bridge. The bridge apparently spanned the river near its present location. Born Aug. 26, 1923, Brown started school at the age of 5.
"I had to ride horseback to school," Raymond recalls, "fording Fish Creek and the Blanco River. I had to go through three gates, which was a great tribulation because of lightning. It was bad news to be around a fence during a thunderstorm."
Since most of the school kids rode horseback, a log shed erected near the schoolhouse housed the horses during the day.
Margaret Smith, a young lady from Manassa, taught grades 1 through 8 in the one-room school house at that time. Oldtimers know that Manassa, located in the vicinity of Conejos in the San Luis Valley, was founded by Mormon settlers during the latter part of the 20th century. They also know it was the boyhood home of Jack Dempsey, the "Manassa Mauler," one of the greatest heavyweight boxers.
While in the Blanco Basin, Miss Smith lived in a little house behind the school building provided by the school district. After school, she frequently climbed on a horse with one of the children and rode home to visit the parents. A spring located about 150 yards south of the school supplied drinking water. Separate outhouses were provided for boys and girls. The school was typical of rural schools of the time, with a blackboard dominating the front wall and ink wells on every desk. Kids learned to write by dipping straight pens into ink wells, an action requiring a blotter "just in case." Penmanship was important and messy ink blots detracted from the work.
During recess, school kids scampered around playing ante over or with toy cars on a trail above the school house.
"I wasn't a good student in the beginning. I was color blind and they used colored marbles to teach us to count," Raymond said. "The truth is, I had a lot of trouble at that school. When I started school in town three years later, I was still at the first grade level. Things changed. I graduated as valedictorian from Pagosa Springs High School in 1940. In the Blanco, I didn't like school. If I saw a grouse along the way, I'd stop to throw rocks at it. I didn't get to school until about 10 o'clock."
School enrollment consisted of two or three sawmill kids - there was a sawmill in the Basin at the time - and about a dozen other kids. Among the students were Sam Teeson; Roy Mauldin; Bert Smith; Anna Lee, Florence, and Thelma Mee; the Amyx girls - Virginia, Amy, Esther, Pansy - and Glen Hager who lived with them; a family of Griggs, and the Millers.
"I'm not positive about the names," Raymond said. "It's been over 70 years, you know."
During Raymond's first years along Fish Creek, the family kept house in a log cabin and carried water from the creek for household consumption. Most family activities took place in the kitchen. Meals were prepared on a wood-burning range, which also had a tank for heating water used for baths and other purposes. A wood stove heated the rest of the house. An enclosed compartment for cooling food rested in the creek.
Because of no refrigeration, meats and other perishables were hard to preserve. During the summer, "the old red rooster, freshly killed and plucked" and his kinfolk provided the main meat course. Cattle and hogs were butchered after the freezing season set in during the fall. A lot of the meat was canned.
The family milked Holstein cows, separating the cream from the remainder of the milk. Either the family consumed the milk or it was fed to ever present hogs. After separation, the cream was put in 5- or 10-gallon milk cans and hauled to town in a buggy. The family owned a car, but - in the moneyless depression - it was cheaper to use the buggy than to buy gas. A can of cream fetched $1.50.
Hay, mostly timothy and clover, was stored in a log barn. Everyone built with logs in those days and many of the men excelled in squaring logs with broad axes. One of the best, according to Raymond, was Doc Wright.
"He'd cut notches across the log and then go to work with his axe," Raymond said. "When he finished the surface would be so smooth, it looked planed."
Pitchforks, slings, and wagons were used to put up the hay. Final stacking was done with a home-made derrick consisting of an upright pole and a cross bar. Ropes and pulley's were rigged to the derrick. The fork horse pulled the rope lifting the slings containing hay.
Huntable wildlife consisted mostly of bear and grouse. Deer or elk were seldom seen. Bears were valued for their meat and the bear oil was good for the hair and for leather items.
Like most young boys, Raymond dreamed of owning a BB gun and got one. Like most young boys, the BB gun got him in trouble more than once. A safe place to shoot was the cove between the ceiling and the walls inside the house. He couldn't shoot directly into the walls; they were lined with cheesecloth covered with wallpaper. A BB hole in the wall paper meant a whipping.
Community entertainment consisted mostly of dances held from home to home. Families showed up about dark riding in horse-drawn wagons in summer, sleds if it was winter. After a while the kids were put to bed, their tootsies warmed by heated rocks or hot water bottles. They'd sleep until the grownups went home, often at first light.
Local musicians, nimble fingered folks adept at coaxing music from fiddles, banjos, and guitars, brought life to the dances. Waxing the floors made stepping out to "Cotton-eyed Joe" a lot easier. In addition to dancing, cards were regularly on the fun-time agenda. Sluff was the favorite card game.
Life today is a far cry from living in the Blanco 70 years ago. What hasn't changed is the inevitability of change. The old folks, the people who pioneered the Upper Blanco Basin were accustomed to change.
Raymond's grandfather, Sam Teeson, saw plenty of change. Sam had been born in Wales. After coming to the United States and before settling in Archuleta County, Sam Teeson took part in the final years of buffalo killing in North Texas during the mid to late 1870s. Early on, buffalo were killed in uncounted numbers just for their tongues. While the rest of the carcasses rotted on the prairie, buffalo tongues were packed and salted in barrels and shipped by railroad to Eastern markets.
When Sam found his hunting partner substituting a muscle that looked like tongue for the real thing, Sam ended the partnership. Apparently he didn't quit any too soon, for when the buyers learned they had been duped, they hung the partner. One of Raymond's prized possessions is a Winchester rifle he received from his grandfather, Model 1876 caliber 50:95, with a hex-barrel and lever-action.
One winter early in the 1930s, snow started falling on the Basin like a sneaking assassin. Day after day, night after night, week after week, snow piled up, silent and deadly. Soon only the tip of house roofs peeked above the snow. Desperate families tunneled deep into the wintry killer, just to enter doors and bask in the warmth of their homes. By the time spring thaw arrived, most of the livestock in the Basin were dead. Many families lost everything.
During the years that followed, Raymond graduated from Pagosa Springs High School, attended Fort Lewis College, as a soldier landed on Omaha Beach June 6, 1944, and filled out a career in the U.S. Forest Service with duty tours in Arizona, New Mexico and Alaska. We'll visit Raymond again during this Oldtimer series, learn about the creamery in Pagosa Springs, about how if felt for a Pagosa Country boy to be dug in on the sands of Omaha Beach, and perhaps more.
Every once in a while, someone will come along and change the nature of comedy or at least challenge it or maybe just raise the funny bar higher than all of their predecessors.
The Marx Brothers did it in the '30s. Ernie Kovacs did it in the '50s. In the '60s, the Monty Python troupe had us alternately scratching our heads and slapping our knees with their bizarre animations, philosophizing Cockney housewives and cross-dressing civil servants.
Then in the late '70s, Andy Kaufman started showing up on Saturday Night Live. He seemed to be a comedian, but he didn't tell jokes. He didn't do slapstick. He didn't call our attention to humorous oddities in real life (I like to call this "Did-you-ever-notice" humor; it's offered up by Andy Rooney, George Carlin and Jerry Seinfeld).
At one point, Andy stood in front of his audience for what seemed like forever, making no more noise than it takes to perspire. While people laughed nervously, Andy continued to sweat, as self-conscious and nervous as any of us when a whole crowd is staring at us. Clenching and unclenching his fists, making eye contact, then looking away, he played a game of chicken with his audience. Finally, he puts the tone arm on a little turntable next to him. The record is the theme from the "Mighty Mouse" TV show. He stands and listens, his face frozen in fear. When the song gets to "Here I come to save the day! / Mighty Mouse is on the way," Andy lip synchs with a dramatic hand gesture. And that's it. That's the act.
Another time he pretends to be "Foreign Man" (which evolved into Latka Gravas, his character on "Taxi"). He pretends to do imitations, but they all sound like Foreign Man until he gets to Elvis. Then it's the real thing, and the audience loves it. When he's done, he thanks them in Latka-speak: "Tenk you veddy much." Go figure.
Once, and I'm not making this up, Andy infuriated his SNL audience by reading them F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby." Even when they booed, hissed and hooted, he wouldn't stop. He shouted at them: "Shut up! This is Fitzgerald's finest novel! It's an American masterpiece!" Interestingly, he read it in a British accent.
Near the end of his short career (he supposedly died in his 30s from lung cancer, but more about this later), he took his act into the rings of professional wrestling where he became the Intergender Champion of the World.
When I found out about a year ago that Milos Forman ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "The People Vs. Larry Flynt") was making a film about Andy, I was eager to see it, even if Jim Carrey had landed the highly coveted role of the comedian. (It could have been worse. Tom Hanks was one of the other candidates for the job.) I wanted to know more about this guy.
On the one hand, I thought he might be a comic genius, striving to expose the actual relationship between comic and audience. If you've ever told a joke and then had to explain it, you know a big part of the comic lives inside the audience. Just as good writers must have active readers to bring their stories to life, a comedian must form a kind of symbiotic relationship with the people for whom he's performing. Andy was certainly capable of yanking his audience into his act, and he didn't do it by meekly asking for volunteers, either. He forced them into singalongs ("And the duck goes . . . "), lured them into skits that could be either planned or spontaneous (we still aren't sure about some of them), and, ultimately, wrestled them to the ground, literally.
On the other hand, I thought Andy might just be a nutcase, to use a clinical term, a nutcase I found oddly endearing.
After watching Forman's "Man on the Moon" (1999), I'm still not sure what to make of the guy. Carrey plays Andy as a kind of air-headed man child. His goals seem pretty simple: He wants to be big, he wants to perform at Carnegie Hall, he wants his audience to have a "real experience," not just a cheap laugh. The movie doesn't tell us much more than that about this strange individual.
It does seem clear that Andy's act was his life and his life was an act, a performance. As he says in the film, "There is no real me." Even those closest to him couldn't find the boundary between the actual human being and the showman. For instance, when he announces that he has cancer, his agent George Shapiro (Danny DeVito) and his friends roll their eyes and say, "Oh, cut it out, Andy. That's in poor taste. That'll never play." When his sister visits him in the hospital, she believes even the doctor is in on the gag because his "costume" isn't quite right: "He isn't even wearing real doctor shoes," she says. The film's final scene also makes the more hopeful (and gullible?) of us wonder if Andy hasn't goofed us big time with that whole dying thing.
I was somewhat disappointed in the movie as a whole, and I think Andy was too, or, if he's dead, would've been. I saw little that set it apart from the usual bio-pic, aside from a short bit at the beginning where Andy tries to talk us out of watching the film. I would've rather spent the two hours watching clips of his routines, reexperiencing a kind of invasive, unsettling kind of comedy the likes of which I don't expect to see again for a long, long time.
I woke last Friday morning and asked myself "Karl, whaddya wanna do today?"
Go to the gym, lift heavy objects and put them down again?
Learn to sing the part of Alfredo in "La Traviata?"
Develop some new recipes for the column, crank up Version 2.1 by Garbage, sip some wine, eat?
Complete a few "Learn Esperanto at Home" worksheets?
Spend the day reading Maurice Merleau-Ponty's "Phenomenology of Perception?"
Work on a popsicle stick facsimile of Chartres Cathedral?
I had plenty of options.
No, I thought, it's a gorgeous day: the sun is shining, birdies are tweeting, all's right with the world.
I think I'll let a stranger root around my colon with a tube equipped with lights and a camera.
So, I put on clean underwear and I was off to Durango to see my butt buddy, Stuart.
It's okay; Stuart is a physician. A specialist in things relating to the nether world. With a degree from a real medical school.
I was scheduled for a flexible sigmoidoscopy.
The procedure involves insertion of a flexible high-tech tube into the lower section of the colon to search for abnormalities and deal with them before they develop into something serious - like colon cancer. It's a procedure recommended for anyone who reaches age fifty, and for younger individuals who have suspicious family medical histories or who exhibit certain symptoms.
Plus, it sounds like a whole lot of fun, doesn't it?
Actually, the fun began the day before I went to Durango, as the region to be probed was "cleansed." Step one was a liquid diet. Clear liquids only.
It was bad enough I had to stick to liquids, but clear liquids only? It was a challenge to go without cheese, pasta, beurre blanc, tenderloin. But, on top of that, none of my favorite liquids are clear, except aquavit, and I didn't think the doctor had aquavit in mind. So, I sipped water and weak broth, like an Essene hunkered in his little niche at Qumran. Oh, the ignominy, the denial, the purity and the pain.
Come evening, the regimen intensified.
America is a wonderful country. We possess extraordinary industry and we create amazing products, not the least of which is an array of thermonuclear laxatives. If anyone does it better, I want to know who they are.
As per instructions, I drank a alchemical brew of substances with ten-syllable names, moved the television set to the bathroom and settled in for the evening. It was a long evening. I learned a lot about myself.
Early the next morning, sphincter clenched tightly, I set off for the hospital at Durango and my date with Stu. The doctor.
Dressed in a backless gown and wearing a set of plastic booties, I waddled down the hall to the endoscopy room where Stuart sat at a desk. He looked kind, sincere, wealthy. I sensed a link between us.
I yearned to engage in some pre-procedure banter, rootless small talk aimed at tempering my apprehension, soothing my anxiety. I wanted to get to know Stuart a little better. What are his favorite colors? Does he like Courtney Love? Debbie Reynolds? Does he own pets and, if so, what are their names? This was, after all, my first time. I wanted to feel wanted.
Stuart, on the other hand, was all business. I was crushed.
"You need to sign this release form," said Stuart. "Statistics show once every 10,000 times, this procedure results in a perforation of the colon."
Immediate thought: Stuart has performed 9,999 of these procedures.
I signed and a nurse showed me the way to the chamber where the invasion takes place. She confiscated the candles, the bottle of Lipari '96 Cabernet Sauvignon and the Sinatra tapes I brought for the occasion. I was determined the mood should be perfect but, in this day and age, people are so callous. What happened to feelings? Huh?
Captain Stuart took his position at the aft deck and it was full speed ahead.
I heard Stuart clanking around behind me, readying his equipment. It set me thinking. About me. About the moment. About Stuart. About us.
We are in a elementary school classroom. Mrs. Dingle, our teacher, stands at the front of the room. We are discussing the future.
"Class," asks Mrs. Dingle, "what do you want to do when you grow up?"
Little hands shoot into the air. Students bark out their answers.
"I want to be a fireman."
"I want to be a rocket scientist."
"I want to be a banker."
"I want to be a professional baseball player."
"I want to own a grocery store."
"I want to take long, flexible hoses and. . ."
I reclined on my side, my ample posterior bulging from the gap in my hospital gown. I smelled food cooking - a stew, overladen with cabbage - and I heard the bing of a microwave oven timer. A dog barked somewhere outside the building. A woman laughed in the hallway beyond the room.
I gazed at a television monitor suspended in front of me. When the sigmoidoscope was turned on, an image appeared on the screen: the ceiling of the room. It was followed in jerky succession by images of Stuart's face, the nurse's tunic, equipment hanging from hooks on the wall, of the table top, the floor of the room, the edge of the table, and. . . oh, no!
Houston. . . the Eagle has landed.
It was just like "Fantastic Voyage," except Racquel and the gang were entering Karl through a different door.
"You might feel a bit of discomfort when we inflate the colon with air."
Gee, really? Why is that?
I mentally replayed the crash of the Hindenberg.
"Excuse me doc," I said, trying to inject a bit of levity into the moment, "but if I open my mouth and beam of light comes out, is it safe to say we've gone a bit too far?"
No one laughed. I tasted chrome.
Stuart probed around for a minute, then stopped. He found a polyp. We checked the little rascal on the monitor. It glistened like an insidious pearl in the digestive diadem, a potentially malignant seed ready to serve as the source of necrosis, of my undoing - a beacon of my transience. Stuart said there was no reason to go further. We needed to make a date to shove in the heavy equipment and do some excavation work.
He whipped out the tube. . . and he was gone.
No cuddling. No conversation. No flowers. No cigarette.
I was left on the gurney, used, alone - like I'd regained consciousness in an alleyway somewhere near the waterfront, watching the shadow of a fleeing merchant seaman disappear from view.
The dance was over, and my date left me at the curb.
Men. . . they're all alike.
And yet, Stuart wanted to get together again.
Really, he did.
There was hope.
I was bruised, ruffled, but I knew I'd go back.
We always do.
I got dressed and trudged to the waiting room to meet Kathy.
"I've got a polyp - maybe a forest of polyps - and Stuart's gotta take in a backhoe," I said. "I'm mortal and I'm depressed, and there's only one thing to do."
We managed to find a restaurant before the end of breakfast service. I thoroughly enjoyed a croissant stuffed with egg, sausage and green chile, blanketed with melted Swiss cheese. The coffee - a fresh-brewed Tanzanian peaberry - was perfect.
When I got back to Pagosa, I went to the gym to lift heavy objects and put them back down. As a departure from our regular analysis of the stock market, scientific discoveries, fashion trends and world affairs, I regaled Wally and Tony with the tale of the invasion of the Tube King, paying close attention to the evacuative experience of the preceding evening. My comrades maintained a discreet distance when I did bent-over barbell rows.
That evening, in celebration of the discovery of my polyp and the illumination of my corporeal flaws, I decided to make a couple of galettes for supper. Galettes are like a fancy French pizza that can accommodate a variety of fillings, from savory to sweet. I figured something French was appropriate. Those darned French are so existential.
I wish I could give credit to the cook whose crust recipe I used. I watched her on Julia Child's baking show, but I didn't catch her name.
The crust for the galette is simple: flour, corn meal, unsalted butter, a bit of sugar, salt, water and sour cream.
For two small galettes, enough for two persons, you need a cup of unsifted all-purpose flour to which you add a quarter cup of corn meal, a half teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar. Cut in seven tablespoons of unsalted butter, making sure the nuggets of butter vary in size.
Whisk together three tablespoons of sour cream with five tablespoons of water. Add slowly to the flour mixture until the dough begins to draw together. Finish drawing the dough together on the sides of the bowl with your hands, adding a bit of water if necessary. Don't overdo it.
Cut the dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, flatten and refrigerate for two hours.
Roll the dough into 11-inch circles. Place each circle on a lightly oiled baking sheet and fill.
For my savory galette, I sauteed diced white onion and sliced cremini mushrooms in olive oil. I placed the onion and mushroom mix on a circle of dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch rim of dough around the edge of the filling. On top of the onions and mushrooms I placed rounds of seeded plum tomato, several anchovy fillets, chopped fresh basil, shredded jack and mozzarella cheeses and some chopped garlic. I folded the bare edge of dough over the filling to a point approximately halfway to the center of the circle to form a roll of crust around the perimeter of the galette.
Into a 400 degree oven it went for approximately 25 minutes. I checked the galette to see if the crust was golden and I inserted the tip of a knife in the thickest part of the crust to check for doneness.
After letting the galette cool for ten minutes, I sliced it into four wedges with a pizza roller and, in the company of a serviceable Cotes du\ Rhone, this baby was superb!
The dessert galette was a disaster.
I decided on a mix of blueberries and raspberries. I thawed frozen fruit, to which I added a couple of tablespoons of sugar. There was a lot of juice, so I attempted to drain the liquid from the berries before I put them in the center of the dough.
I folded the edges to form the edge of the galette. I brushed the rim with water then sprinkled it with sugar. A couple of dots of butter on the fruit and into the oven it went, for approximately 25 minutes.
Not enough sugar. The galette emerged tart, barely redeemable with a healthy load of Kozy Shack tapioca pudding on the side. Kathy loaded her serving with ice cream and the addition failed to save the day.
Next time, I'll make the fruit galette with thinly sliced apple or pear, layered with sugar, a bit of cinnamon and bits of butter.
Perhaps I'll bake a couple of the little beauties.
I'll be on a liquid diet for a couple of days, but I'll take a galette to Stuart on our next date.
By the time Stuart and I see each other again, the gnawing reality of my impermanence will have subsided. I'll be as giddy as a teenager.
I'll take along some fresh-cut flowers.
I'll get a haircut and wear a snappy Hawaiian shirt. Perhaps splash on some cheap aftershave.
Somehow, some way, I think everything is going to work out.
Mitzi and Brandon Bowman are proud to announce the birth of their son, Brenton Lee Bowman, who was born Thursday, June 8, 2000, at Mercy Medical Center in Durango. Brenton weighed 6 pounds, 4 1/2 ounces and was 18-inches long.
Brenton's paternal grandparents are Wanda and Butch Bowman of Pagosa Springs. His maternal grandparents are Jackie and Dan Hovda of Pagosa Springs.
Rito Blanco Nursery
Mary Kay Carpenter is the owner operator of the Rito Blanco Nursery.
Rito Blanco Nursery carries a full stock of trees shrubs, annuals and perennials. Also, the nursery specializes in organically grown products - vegetable starts, herbs, annuals, perennials. Organically grown vegetables of all types are available throughout the season.
To find Rito Blanco Nursery, drive south of Pagosa Springs on U.S. 84 approximately 8 miles and turn east on County Road 326 - the Blanco Basin Road. Look for the geodesic dome 2 1/2 miles up the Blanco Basin Road and you are at the nursery.
Rito Blanco Nursery is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday. The phone number is 264-2933.