Front Page

December 21, 2000

 

Visitor finds Pagosa typifies small town Christmas spirit

Editor's note: The following letter arrived Tuesday via e-mail. It's an encouraging Christmas greeting to all of us who are blessed to call Pagosa home.

Dear Editor,

Those of us who live in a big city like Denver forget just how warm is the hospitality and community spirit in a town like Pagosa Springs. Some of my family and I experienced this hospitality in a dramatic way this fall.

In September my husband and I and my sister and her daughter were returning to Denver from my father's funeral in Farmington, N.M. We were all tired and stressed out from the week's ordeal. We arrived in Pagosa Springs at lunchtime and stopped to take a break. We ordered take-out sandwiches at the Irish Rose. Since it was a nice day we carried our lunches down to the riverside walkway and ate near the river. It was a very relaxing break. We stopped at your Visitor's Center and used the clean facilities as so many travelers do. We resumed our drive and were almost to South Fork when I reached under the car seat to retrieve something from my purse. My purse wasn't there! I realized with dismay that I must have left it at the restaurant or the picnic table. So we turned back. My anxiety mounted when I realized I had over one hundred dollars cash in my purse.

When we reached Pagosa Springs the Irish Rose was closed! In desperation we went next door to Goodman's Department Store, told them my story, and asked if they knew how to reach the owner of the restaurant. They called the owner who sent someone over to open the restaurant for us. We searched unsuccessfully for my purse, just as my husband returned empty-handed from his search at the riverside. The people at Goodman's came over, suggested that we try the lost and found at the police station, and pointed us in the right direction. At the station a young woman was coming to her car and asked if we needed help. I told her I had lost my purse. She replied that she knew I was going to say that because someone had turned in a purse. When I inquired about my purse at the lost and found the woman said, "Oh, you must be Dorothy." I smiled and sighed with relief as she gave me my purse with everything intact. The policeman who had received my purse, had the name and address of the man who found it while walking by the river. He was Jim Pieper from Illinois.

There are still honest and kind people out there and we met a number of them in Pagosa Springs.

Thank you Jim, and all the people in Pagosa Springs who care about the strangers who come through their town. You have the Christmas spirit all year round.

Dottie Gerstner

 

Gas main cut; crews muster to avoid disaster

By Karl Isberg

Pick a perfect date to be without natural gas for your forced-air heating system.

Odds are good the date is not Dec. 18.

Apply Murphy's Law to your calculation and the gas goes off Dec. 18. A very cold Dec. 18.

As many as 400 homes in the Lake Pagosa Park and Pagosa in the Pines II subdivisions west of Pagosa Springs were left without natural gas Monday and it took a round-the-clock effort by Citizens Utilities workers, aided by members of other local agencies and organizations, to prevent the outage from causing a disaster.

According to Dave Freeman, Citizen Utilities regional manager at La Junta, the problem began when a subcontractor working for La Plata Electric Association severed a four-inch gas pipe near the intersection of Park Avenue and Modern, in the Pagosa in the Pines II area.

"The break was probably not their fault," Freeman said of the subcontractor crew. "We are still investigating why the break happened."

One thing is for certain: homes in the two subdivisions that rely on natural gas for furnaces and other appliances were without gas and immediate action was necessary. With night-time temperatures dipping below zero, the clock was ticking.

Repair of the broken line was finished during the afternoon. That was the easy part.

The second, more important activity involved turning off the gas supply line at the meter at each home served by the company, then going back to each home after the broken main was repaired, bringing gas back to appliances and lighting pilot lights where necessary.

Citizens Utilities had five local employees ready to work in the field, as well as office staff to man the phone lines. Two La Junta-based employees were in the Pagosa area, said Freeman, and another four workers dispatched from La Junta arrived at Pagosa at 6 p.m.

"A gas outage is much different than an electric outage," explained Freeman. "When the gas supply went out, all the pilot lights went out. Most equipment these days is relatively new and it's good equipment, but there is always the chance something won't work when the gas comes back on. Any time we have an outage, we have to turn off the meter. Once we fix the problem, we go back, house to house, and turn on the pilots."

Freeman explained that workers first knocked on doors of homes identified as using gas service. If no one answered to admit the worker, a tag was left on the front door, asking the resident to call the company so a worker could be sent to the house.

"We also went to neighbors to find out about owners and to secure entry into homes," said Freeman. "We used the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association to provide owners' names." PLPOA office manager Sue Passant and office staff worked late into the night to provide the utility company with information from the organization's data base.

"There were some homes where we had to get a locksmith and enter the home in the company of a fireman and a deputy from the sheriff's office," said Freeman." We will send letters to the owners of properties we had to enter.

"It was like World War II, scrambling the planes," said Freeman. "We called people, people called us, we called out-of-town information to get phone numbers. As of 8 a.m. the next morning, we had all but 30 residences finished and we had those back on by early afternoon."

Freeman said only one, hypothetical difficulty remained. "There is always a small chance there is air in a line, and there is the possibility some pilots might go off. In that case, we would need to relight them. But, this is unlikely. In terms of a response, our folks got in and did a good job. Now, what we need to do is sit back and dissect this situation."

 

High cost of fuel prompts new Citizens Utilities hike

By John M. Motter

Consumers already stunned by the size of their natural gas bills face another shock to begin the New Year.

Citizens Utilities, the natural gas supplier for much of the Colorado West Slope including Archuleta County, is seeking another rate increase from residential users. This time the gas company wants an overall increase of 17.92 percent effective Jan. 1, 2001.

Prior to the most recent request, Citizens Utilities had, in steps taken during April, July and October of 2000, increased residential gas rates a little over 60 percent.

"Actually, our basic rate was approved during 1991," said David Freeman, manager of the Colorado Gas Division of Citizens Utilities Company.

One part of the basic rate is provision for future adjustment of the rate because of increased costs of natural gas without going through the entire justification procedure required to increase the base rate.

"We have to go to the Public Utilities Commission for the gas cost adjustment," Freeman said, "but approval is almost automatic based on us showing them that we are paying more for gas."

Natural gas prices are demand driven, according to Freeman, which means when demand increases the price goes up.

In retracing the recent history of Citizens Utility charges, Freeman noted that gas prices were down when the basic rate was established in 1991. From that time, rates followed a negative adjustment when prices were lowered, then a stable market through the mid-1990s, followed by mild inflation until recently when prices jumped markedly.

"Ten years ago we were paying $2.30 to $2.50 per 1,000 cubic feet for natural gas," Freeman said. "In October when we made our last increase we were paying $5. Now it has shot up to above $9."

Compounding public perception of the impact of the increases is the timing, Freeman said.

"During April, July and October, people weren't using much gas so, even though the rate was higher, they didn't notice much change on their gas bills," Freeman said. "Now not only are the rates up significantly, consumption is also up because it's much colder. Some people saw a 300 percent change in their gas bill from one month to the next."

Freeman was reluctant to predict the course of future gas prices. In the near future, prices could fluctuate controlled by the demand-driven market. Looking further down the road, increased demand could lead to increased investment in supplying needs. Coupled with milder weather, the increased supply and decreased demand could cause prices to fall.

Meanwhile, Citizens Utilities continues to offer a budget billing option. Under the budget billing option, users can choose to pay a fixed year-around bill by averaging one year of charges. Under this scenario, the user will pay more than normal summer charges, but less than normal winter charges.

Some help with heating expenses for qualified individuals may be available from Archuleta County Social Services.

"We encourage people who need help with heating bills to call us," said Erlinda Gonzalez, the director of Archuleta County Social Services. "They can contact us here at the county courthouse and we will work out their eligibility."

Funded by the state through the Low Energy Assistance Program, the amount of money available for each eligible household this year is $100 more than last year, according to Gonzalez.

The amount of energy assistance money being distributed in Archuleta County this year is up over last year, Gonzalez said. She attributes the increase to population growth and to colder weather than last year.

 

Single-digit temps and chance of Yule snow

By John M. Motter

Even as Pagosa Country residents prepare for Santa's "ho ho ho" and for snow on Christmas Day, low temperatures in the area remain locked in the single-digit range. The only question seems to be, will the single digit be above or below zero degrees Fahrenheit?

Nighttime lows for the area have not climbed above single-digit readings since Dec. 14. Last week's coldest official reading was Sunday night when the mercury dipped to minus 8 degrees. Daily coldest readings ranged from Sunday's low to 18 degrees Dec. 13. The average low reading for the week was a chilly 6 degrees.

Making the cold more bearable were the days when high readings ranged from 31 degrees Saturday up to 38 degrees Sunday. The week's average high temperature was 33 degrees. Look for more of the same through the coming weekend, according to Dan Cuevas, a forecaster from the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction.

"Today (Wednesday) through Saturday will be partly cloudy with high temperatures in the low- to mid-30s and low temperatures ranging between 5 and 15 degrees," Cuevas said. "By Sunday, Monday and Tuesday there is a chance for snow in the Four Corners area as a system carrying moisture moves in from the northwest."

Meanwhile, winter officially arrived today at 6:57 a.m., according to Cuevas. Today presents the fewest hours of sunlight for any day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Starting tomorrow, the hours of daylight will begin increasing and will continue to increase two or three minutes a day until the first day of summer about June 21. That day will contain the most hours of sunlight of any day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

Controlling the hours of sunlight is the earth's position relative to the sun. During the summer, the earth and the northern hemisphere tilt toward the sun. During the winter, both tilt away from the sun. On the first day of winter, the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere. On the first day of summer, the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere. The Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer are midway between the equator and the Arctic and Antarctic global extremes.

 

PLPOA cuts annual dues, adopts budget

By Richard Walter

A $10 reduction in annual association dues to $140 per unit was the highlight of a new budget approved Dec. 14 by the board of directors of Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association.

The fee will be applied against 6,430 housing properties, producing $900,200 and against 684 timeshare owners, producing an additional $95,760. Based on a total of 7,114 units, the dues break down to an average of $126.55 per property.

The budget anticipates total administrative services income of $1,026,160. Additional income is estimated at $18,360 from covenant and compliance actions; $43,391 from property and environment action; and $266,950 from recreation and amenities fees and programs.

Total estimated income in the budget is $1,354,860.

Administrative expenses are pegged at $431,080, covenant and compliance payouts at $237,425, property and environment costs at $267,170, recreation and amenities expenses at $262,485, and utilities costs at $33,545. Added to the expense total is $19,000 in capital improvements for a total of $1,250,710 in operating expenses.

Separating the expenses from the anticipated income leaves net operating income of $104,150.

In a related move Walt Lukasik, general manger, reported the person hired to be the senior accounting technician in the newly revamped in-house system has been forced to refuse the job because of the illness of her daughter.

She was expected to assist in interviewing applicants for secondary positions in the new department .

Lukasik said he hopes to fill the position with another candidate in two to three weeks.

The general manager told the board he and Director David Bohl, who is also the treasurer, acting with prior board approval, had extended the current accounting contract with Colorado Management in Littleton for one month.

Lukasik said computers have been delivered, software applied and the conversion of data to in-house operation has been going smoothly. He said parallel programs will be run for a month to insure accuracy and that there are no bugs in the new system.

The change back to local control of accounting procedures was mandated by the general membership at the annual meeting in July. Property owners complained that having the system in Littleton was cumbersome for them if they wished information or to see specific files.

On another financial matter, Lukasik reported the low bidder for the pool area painting project had withdrawn from consideration.

"We went back to the next tiered contractor based on original bids and got a confirmed proposal of $4,385 for the project using the colors and types of paints we specified," Lukasik said.

"And," he advised, "we have decided the facility will be closed to the public during the actual painting process in the interest of public safety with regard to any potential respiratory problems users might suffer if the center were open."

Bohl announced the purchase of an $80,000 CD due Nov. 29, 2001, for the restricted reserve fund. It bears 6.5 per cent interest.

He also recommended the closure of the association's account at Pine River Valley Bank and transfer of the funds therein to the physical plant fund handled by Edward Jones and closure of the self-insurance fund handled by Morgan-Stanley and transfer of the fund balance to the reserve fund handled by the same firm.

Finally, Bohl asked the board to allow himself and Lukasik to determine which local bank will become the repository for funds being brought back here from Littleton.

He said he had contacted all the banks and had received various quotes from all but one, which was to reply this week. He declined to be specific about the amount of fees and services each bank proposed, preferring to wait until all offers have been received and analyzed.

When Director Fred Ebeling told the board, "I'm not willing to give them that authority. The full board needs to make that decision," Bohl replied, "Then we'll need to schedule a special meeting before the end of the month."

Ebeling said, "I will not be a prisoner to the possibility of the board giving away its responsibility. I disagree with Director Bohl on many things and I'm not going to allow this to happen."

Director Eugene Smith moved for allowing Bohl and Lukasik to make the decision but his motion was defeated 5-2. That led to adding the action to the agenda for a special meeting to be called which will also include two agenda items dealing with personnel benefits. They were removed from the agenda since committee chairmen were not yet prepared to broach the topic.

 

Commissioners argue validity of Valle Seco Road gate

By Richard Walter

A $10 reduction in annual association dues to $140 per unit was the highlight of a new budget approved Dec. 14 by the board of directors of Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association.

The fee will be applied against 6,430 housing properties, producing $900,200 and against 684 timeshare owners, producing an additional $95,760. Based on a total of 7,114 units, the dues break down to an average of $126.55 per property.

The budget anticipates total administrative services income of $1,026,160. Additional income is estimated at $18,360 from covenant and compliance actions; $43,391 from property and environment action; and $266,950 from recreation and amenities fees and programs.

Total estimated income in the budget is $1,354,860.

Administrative expenses are pegged at $431,080, covenant and compliance payouts at $237,425, property and environment costs at $267,170, recreation and amenities expenses at $262,485, and utilities costs at $33,545. Added to the expense total is $19,000 in capital improvements for a total of $1,250,710 in operating expenses.

Separating the expenses from the anticipated income leaves net operating income of $104,150.

In a related move Walt Lukasik, general manger, reported the person hired to be the senior accounting technician in the newly revamped in-house system has been forced to refuse the job because of the illness of her daughter.

She was expected to assist in interviewing applicants for secondary positions in the new department .

Lukasik said he hopes to fill the position with another candidate in two to three weeks.

The general manager told the board he and Director David Bohl, who is also the treasurer, acting with prior board approval, had extended the current accounting contract with Colorado Management in Littleton for one month.

Lukasik said computers have been delivered, software applied and the conversion of data to in-house operation has been going smoothly. He said parallel programs will be run for a month to insure accuracy and that there are no bugs in the new system.

The change back to local control of accounting procedures was mandated by the general membership at the annual meeting in July. Property owners complained that having the system in Littleton was cumbersome for them if they wished information or to see specific files.

On another financial matter, Lukasik reported the low bidder for the pool area painting project had withdrawn from consideration.

"We went back to the next tiered contractor based on original bids and got a confirmed proposal of $4,385 for the project using the colors and types of paints we specified," Lukasik said.

"And," he advised, "we have decided the facility will be closed to the public during the actual painting process in the interest of public safety with regard to any potential respiratory problems users might suffer if the center were open."

Bohl announced the purchase of an $80,000 CD due Nov. 29, 2001, for the restricted reserve fund. It bears 6.5 per cent interest.

He also recommended the closure of the association's account at Pine River Valley Bank and transfer of the funds therein to the physical plant fund handled by Edward Jones and closure of the self-insurance fund handled by Morgan-Stanley and transfer of the fund balance to the reserve fund handled by the same firm.

Finally, Bohl asked the board to allow himself and Lukasik to determine which local bank will become the repository for funds being brought back here from Littleton.

He said he had contacted all the banks and had received various quotes from all but one, which was to reply this week. He declined to be specific about the amount of fees and services each bank proposed, preferring to wait until all offers have been received and analyzed.

When Director Fred Ebeling told the board, "I'm not willing to give them that authority. The full board needs to make that decision," Bohl replied, "Then we'll need to schedule a special meeting before the end of the month."

Ebeling said, "I will not be a prisoner to the possibility of the board giving away its responsibility. I disagree with Director Bohl on many things and I'm not going to allow this to happen."

Director Eugene Smith moved for allowing Bohl and Lukasik to make the decision but his motion was defeated 5-2. That led to adding the action to the agenda for a special meeting to be called which will also include two agenda items dealing with personnel benefits. They were removed from the agenda since committee chairmen were not yet prepared to broach the topic.

 

 

Inside The Sun

PLPOA retains current fees for rec center

By Richard Walter

Acting on a recommendation from the Recreation Center Advisory Committee, the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association board of directors agreed, after extensive discussion Dec. 14, to maintain the current fee structure for all and the punch card program for timeshare users.

Directors also approved a recommended center expansion planning study.

Director Thomas Cruse, reporting for the advisory group, said timeshare use data so far this year indicates practically no level of usage increase or decrease in the last two years.

There had been, he said, some pleas from Fairfield Pagosa representatives for more uses per pass or for lower fees. He said the center staff had agreed to allow an additional 8 punches per card for $11, for example, but only 10 percent of the timeshare owners exercised the upgrade.

Timeshare owners get a voucher for 12 punches as part of their package. An additional 12 are available for $29.

Director Fred Ebeling said, "It is a good system, but why would anyone want to upgrade to 20 punches or 32 punches per card when the per-use figure would increase, based on your figures? It would seem to me the fee should decline the more uses are made."

Cruse said, "The issue is not the charge per punch, but rather, the number of punches a voucher allows. Our study indicates 12 punches per card (voucher) is adequate for 90 percent of users."

Director Eugene Smith argued, "The more use it (the center) gets, the more expensive it is to operate and that means an incremental increase in per usage cost. There must have been a rationale when it was approved by this board last year."

Cruse said there is one point of emphasis the board should demand:

"When dealing with property owners as customers, whether timeshare or full time residents, all must be assured of receiving the same courtesy. Employees should be mandated to show the same positive relationship for all center users."

Making the motion to keep the fee structure the same as approved last year, Cruse said, "It is an amenity not used by all but a benefit to all."

After director and board President Richard Manley asked if the motion means all other fees, such as family and individual passes were included in the question, Cruse answered "yes", and the board voted unanimously to approve the motion.

After the vote, Cruse said there had been no support for new fees for lager families using timeshares, with the exception of the committee representative from Fairfield.

"The only major change in use we've seen," he said, "is the casual classification, with kids using it as a place to hang out."

He said Fairfield representatives have a high level of concern about how timeshare users are treated by staff, noting they have accused center employees of treating time-share users "as second-class citizens."

Director David Bohl said he has several friends who are timeshare owners and "many times they have related stories of rude treatment to me. When they present a punch card" he said, "it seems they are immediately marked as not full-time residents and therefore not deserving of the same treatment."

Cruse said the center has added another full-time person and center management has a goal of ensuring every visitor is treated equally, whether resident or visitor.

With reference to the expansion study, Cruse reported three bids had been received and that they were inconsistent in scope.

Two of the bids on doing the study were relatively close in cost and the third more than doubles those two.

An experienced Durango firm bid $12,000 and a local bidder, who is a PLPOA member and center user, bid $10,000. "You note we have a lower price from a local bidder, but a competitive price from a nearby community from a firm with more experience. The committee was split on making a recommendation."

Asked to how he would vote if there were not a local bidder, Cruse said, "I believe the $12,000 is the best bid."

Asked by Smith what the anticipated total cost of the project is, Cruse said that is what the expansion study will help determine. "We need to set realistic monetary levels to be determined by the design phase of the study," he said.

"I'm the tie-breaker on the advisory committee and I'd go with the Durango firm," Cruse said.

"I love doing business locally if we can," said Manley, "but when we're talking about perhaps a $1 million project, I want a base plan developed that will adequately guide whatever we decide to do. Experience in such projects is the key factor."

When Cruse moved to accept the bid from DA & B of Durango, the vote was unanimous.

 

$15 propety transfer fee approved by PLPOA board

By Richard Walter

A $15 property transfer fee will be levied on real estate transactions involving Pagosa Lakes properties after a 4-2 vote Dec. 14 by the board of directors of Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association.

That action came with one director, board President Richard Manley, passing.

Walt Lukasik, general manager, introduced the subject saying an estimated 30 minutes is needed to handle and process such transactions.

Director David Bohl disagreed with the need. "It doesn't cost us more," he said. "There is no additional staff involved. Why are we trying to 'diss' the property owner who has paid dues all these years, offering us their support, and now moving on with their lives?"

Director Eugene Smith said, "Sooner or later, we'll have to hire another person. Colorado Management was charging $50 per transaction before we severed our contract with them."

Bohl was adamant in his opposition. "It's not for the benefit of the buyers or the sellers, just for us. We don't need it and there is no direct cost to us. We're not in business to make money off the homeowners."

Director Fred Ebeling argued, "If we have to spend some time, even a half hour, to process these items, we're entitled to some compensation."

"It is to our benefit to get this data," said Director Tom Cruse adding, "I'm with Dave (Bohl) on this."

Director Jim Carson said, "The general manager has looked at the numbers. I'm afraid of adding any more incremental services."

The issue carried with Bohl and Cruse opposed and one abstention.

In other action Thursday, the board:

- Heard Lukasik report two persons have applied for alternate membership openings on the Environmental Control Committee and asked when the board wants to interview them. Ebeling said he'd be against one of the applicants who is a contractor because he could bring a conflict of interest to deliberations of the committee. Director Francesco Tortorici disagreed, saying excluding contractors and architects constitutes banning the very people who can help because they understand the problems. Manley decreed the board will interview both applicants at a later date and raise the issue of conflict of interest at that time

- Adopted a retirement plan for the general manager as approved in an executive session of the board, for a two-year period. Smith abstained on the vote because he did not attend the executive session

- Tabled until the next meeting consideration of a revised personnel manual after Smith said he needed more time to study its provisions

- Heard Ebeling recommend that tapes of meetings be destroyed, as attorneys have recommended, as soon as the minutes have been approved. Lukasik was directed to begin that process and to dispose of all old meeting tapes in storage.

 

Woman convicted of Ski and Bow thefts

By Karl Isberg

A local woman, Victoria Martinez, 36, was convicted Dec. 15 by District Court Judge Greg Lyman after she entered a guilty plea to a charge of theft. The court action took place in Durango.

The charge related to a series of crimes committed in 1998 and 1999 when Martinez was an employee at the Ski and Bow Rack, located in downtown Pagosa Springs.

According to assistant District Attorney Craig Westberg, Martinez was originally charged with two counts of theft, each count relating to a separate series of thefts of monies collected as Colorado big game license fees. The Ski and Bow Rack is an authorized hunting license outlet.

The technical name of the crime committed by Martinez is "Theft/Series, $500 or more but less than $15,000." Investigations of the incidents were completed by the Pagosa Springs Police Department, the district attorney's office and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Westberg said Colorado law allows a person to be charged because of a series of offenses committed during a specified period of time, with a focus on the aggregate amount of money stolen. He said Martinez was charged with thefts during two six-month periods of employment at the Pagosa business.

The assistant DA explained that one of the two charges was dismissed when Martinez entered her plea.

Martinez was sentenced to 30 days in the Archuleta County Jail to commence Jan. 5, 2001, and to three-years probation with terms including $23,394 restitution and compliance with any counseling recommendations resulting from a mental health evaluation.

Westberg said the amount of restitution reflects aggregate amounts stolen in both specified time periods as well as "consequential damages" incurred by the owner of the business.

 

Commissioners approve budget, tax district levies

By John M. Motter

Archuleta County's Commissioners approved the budget for 2001 and took care of year-end business while meeting in regular session Tuesday. Tuesday's meeting was the last regular meeting for the board during 1999, and maybe the last ever for Commissioner Ken Fox.

Fox was defeated in his bid for re-election as commissioner for District 2 this past fall by Alden Ecker. Also elected this past fall was Commissioner Bill Downey from Commissioner District 1. Downey had been appointed to that position earlier by the Archuleta County Republican Central Committee to complete the unexpired four-year term of Bill Tallon, who moved to Arizona. The third commissioner is Gene Crabtree, elected two years ago and with two years remaining on his term.

Seating and organization of the new board of county commissioners is slated to take place at the regular meeting of county commissioners Jan.9, 2001, at 9 a.m. in County Judge Jim Denvir's quarters. Denvir will perform the swearing in ceremony. The commissioners voted Tuesday not to meet Dec. 28 or Jan. 4 unless something of unforeseen importance develops.

Archuleta County budget

"Archuleta County continues to be a leader in the state of Colorado and the nation as one of the fastest growing counties," Dennis Hunt said when introducing the final version of the budget to the commissioners. In addition to being county manager, Hunt is county budget officer.

"Building permits this past year reached an all time high and permits are not anticipated to noticeably decrease in 2001," Hunt continued. "There continues to be a tremendous demand on all governmental services within Archuleta County."

One important feature of the new budget, according to Hunt, is the start and continuation of the renovation and expansion of the county airport by spending about $15 million of federal, state, and local money over the next three years to increase air service to Archuleta County.

The county has also accepted the role as leader of five southwestern Colorado counties intent on providing improved telecommunication services to all public entities within the five counties.

A minimum of three months operating revenue will be retained in reserves, Hunt said, while the county continues to use a modified accrual accounting system.

The current year assessed valuation of $158,191,475 will generate $2,729,900 from property taxes. In order to comply with the 5.5 percent property tax revenue increase limit, Archuleta County is providing a 3.888-mill temporary property tax credit that will generate $615,050 of temporary tax relief for those who pay county property taxes. The credit will be noted on the tax statement mailed to each tax payer.

Mill levies

Each year it is the duty of the county commissioners to certify tax rates established by the governing boards of each taxing entity in the county. That function was performed Tuesday. The mill levy of each entity is established by the governing board of each entity based on property valuations determined by the county assessor.

"It is our duty to certify that the taxing entities have levied a property tax," said Downey. "It is not our duty to certify the accuracy of the various computations involved."

The 2001 mill levies established by each of the taxing entities and certified by the county commissioners are: Pagosa Springs School District 50 Jt. - 33.250; Bayfield School District 10JTR - 39.326; Ignacio School District 11 Jt. 15.958; Archuleta County - 17.257; Pagosa Springs - 1.680; Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District - 7.240 for water and sanitation services west of town and 3.099 for the remainder of the PAWS service area; Upper San Juan Library District - 1.5; Pagosa Fire Protection District - 4.067; Pagosa Springs Sanitation District - 3.4; Southwestern Water Conservation District - 0.324; Alpha-Parkridge Metro District - 10; Upper San Juan Hospital District - 2.661; San Juan Water Conservation District - 0.351; Aspen Springs Metropolitan District - 12.04; San Juan Village Metropolitan District - 15.352; and Piedra Park Metropolitan Improvement District - 6.362.

County holidays - 2001

The county has designated 13 holidays for the coming year. They are: New Year's Day - Jan. 1 (Monday); Martin Luther King's birthday - Jan. 15 (Monday); President's Day - Feb. 19 (Monday); Good Friday after 12 p.m. - April 13 (Friday); Memorial Day - May 28 (Monday); Independence Day - July 4 (Wednesday); Labor Day - Sept. 3 (Monday); Veterans Day - Nov. 12 (Monday); Thanksgiving Day - Nov. 22 (Thursday); Archuleta County Heritage Day - Nov. 23 (Friday); Christmas Eve after 12 p.m. - Dec. 24 (Monday); Christmas Day - Dec. 25 (Tuesday); one floating holiday to be approved by supervisor.

 

Residents charge private home rental is a code violation

By Richard Walter

When does a private home cease to become one?

Does it happen when the owner - or his agent - starts advertising it for rent at $250 per night or $1,000 per week while extolling "it sleeps 12 comfortably?"

Dick Akin believes such action makes it no longer a private home and, in effect, a motel or commercial lodging facility which is illegally operating in a residential single-family land use category.

He brought that idea to the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association board of directors Dec. 14, demanding that action be taken to stop such use on a tract in Pagosa Highlands.

Saying he represented a group of 14 subdivision residents who want the use stopped, Akin noted, "I have filed three complaints and have gotten no report from anyone on what action is being taken.

"If you have a barking dog or the wrong color of paint, you are immediately cited for your violation of restrictions in bylaws," Akin said. "Why isn't something done about this kind of operation?

"Those bylaws say you will preserve property values, but allowing operations like this one fly in the face of that rule by providing privilege to a realty company. It will only serve to increase short-term rentals in single-family only areas," Akin continued.

"We don't think this board is acting on behalf of its members," he said. "This is a direct violation of the Declaration of Restrictions."

Akin said he had contacted the rental people and they "were not aware it was in violation of use restrictions. We have prohibitions for any lots in basic single-family areas. Unreasonable annoyance or nuisance to the neighborhood can be controlled. This board has put the burden of policing on the neighbors. We feel the board is remiss in protecting the welfare of the community."

"This operation," Akin said, "is definitely a commercial lodging and that is specifically prohibited. You can't have different laws for us and them. There is no commercial lodging permitted in our rules - except dude ranches. If you just wink at this, deny the violation and do nothing you are violating the Declarations of Restrictions in my subdivision."

Akin said the various codes of enforcement carry fines of $100 to $500 per day for such violations, adding, "This action is a violation. I called the 800 number listed and the people live in Louisiana. They don't live here and said they have no plans to ever live here. They bought the property as an investment and want to recoup some of the cost by renting."

Akin demanded the board issue a stop order and enact fine provisions he cited, saying, "You people have shunned the issue and show favoritism. I've done everything I can to be supportive of this board, to be your watchdog there. You have an opportunity to stop, in its infancy, an open violation of your codes and you allow them to spit in your face."

PLPOA Director David Bohl responded by saying, "Courts have ruled that rentals of single-family housing is not a violation of the law."

Director Richard Manley, board president, said, "We can't get into specifics because of pending litigation which would involve the board. We are under legal advice not to discuss these operations."

Director Tom Cruse said, "We've heard his arguments - twice. He is wrong. We disagree. We are not scumbags. The law is on our side."

"If it's not a motel operation," Bohl added, "it is legal."

Manley told Akin, "We can't answer you point by point. You've called us names and all we've done is disagree with your position," and director Fred Ebeling said, "We have no fiduciary responsibility. We don't believe the declarations are being violated."

Director Francesco Tortorici said that, "Intellectually, I agree with you (Akins). But short-term rental is not in violation of restrictive covenants. No case law exists in Colorado, but courts in other states have upheld the right to such rentals."

Manley acknowledged that, "We know there are such operations in Pagosa Lakes but can find no legal reason to stop them. Court actions have upheld such uses, as objectionable as they may seem to you. It would not be wise for us to spend PLPOA money to fight this."

Director Eugene Smith said, "We are tied, laced to a tree by court decisions which say it is not illegal. I suggest you try to get 51 percent of the property owners in your subdivision to change the definitions to indicate a family dwelling may be occupied only by a family member. We can't do it."

Cruse added, "This board has no role to spend funds for lawyers on this now."

When asked to estimate cost of such an action, general manager Walt Lukasik, said, "$150,000 and it would go all the way through appellate to the Supreme Court."

Manley then said, "This discussion is terminated. We can't accomplish anything here. If you (a majority of property owners within the subdivision) change your declarations and it stands up in a court of law, we'll support you."

 

Letters

Don't understand

Dear David,

It seems outsiders don't understand small towns, friends and death. Pagosans don't put their friends on the back pages when they are living; I am glad the SUN doesn't put them on the back pages when they die.

Ron Alexander

Some background

Dear Editor,

This year our town and county jointly invited all citizens to engage in a process to help leadership manage the negative impacts of unprecedented growth and establish a future vision.

County leadership needed public opinion on acceptable ways to ensure that local character/values would remain intact before they'd take action to deal with the mounting problems. They did the right thing when they funded a professional, statistically valid, telephone survey (1999) which confirmed that lack of growth management was the top community concern. Tosch & Associates of Durango was paid $6,000 for this study.

The next proactive move was to support a grant for professionally facilitated public workshops (starting last February). Total cost, including the grant amounts to $40,200. A fair total of local hard costs amounts to $23,200, including the survey. Here's a rough cost breakout: Department of Local Affairs grant contribution - $17,000 upon project completion. Town contribution - $7,000 (plus salaries). County expenditures - $10,200 (excluding around 450 hours planning department salaries, paper/printing costs, etc.).

While this is a mere pittance for the quality of the process, officials would have a hard time reasonably justifying any intentions of ignoring the results, especially considering the phenomenal public participation.

Through extensive promotional efforts in all local media (the county spent $3,400 in newspaper ads alone) and a two-day interactive exhibit at the junior high, most citizens became aware of numerous opportunities to voice their opinions. The generous workshop format enabled facilitators, Four Corners Planning and Design of Durango, to go to seven regional county locations, making participation convenient and accessible to everyone. They did this 21 times this year, conducting three workshops for each area, plus another for high school students. Public attendance totals (excluding staff, facilitators, commissioner candidates, etc.): Round 1 - 854; Round 2 - 252; Round 3 - 264. This totals 1,370 participants (some are obviously counted more than once if they attended more than one round).

A town and county-appointed volunteer steering committee included citizens from all seven regions. They helped promote the program and provided additional insight into local peculiarities to aid the facilitators. This group included two local longtime ranchers (one, a former county commissioner), a local builder, an architect (now a former county planning commissioner), a Forest Service representative, two retail store employees (one, in a building-related business and also a current county planning commissioner; the other in outdoor recreation), one lifelong resident and business owner (garden/nursery operation), four retirees (a USAF marketing specialist, a school employee, a deputy director of natural resources for Ohio, and a computer systems manager), the town manager and the county director of community development.

To obtain a copy of the revised Community Plan call Mike Mollica: 264-5851, ext. 1152. Next meeting Dec. 27, county commissioners meeting room courthouse, land management chapter will not be discussed. Also, Jan. 24, PLPOA Clubhouse (Vista) covering land management chapter only. Input is limited to maximum 2 minutes, so be specific. Both meetings are on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Peace,

Karen Aspin

Best performance

Dear David,

Earlier this month, the community was treated to a concert that was, in our estimation, the best that we've ever performed.

Because of the 88 talented vocalists, gifted musicians and countless volunteers behind the scenes, the audience was left at the end of the evening with the true spirit of Christmas in their hearts.

A special thanks to Marie Martin Jones for her ability to get more out of a singer than they ever thought possible. Without her tireless belief in this choir, none of this would have been possible. We were also thankful to have Mack Jones for his leadership and guidance, and Al Landes for his direction and boundless energy. This community is so very fortunate to have talent as was displayed in the soloists Mary Baldwin, Barbara Witkowski, Rocky McPherson, Rachel Steed, Don Weller, Joyce Little and Pam Spitler. Melinda Baum's fantastic accompaniment encouraged us all to sing to the high heavens.

We'd also like to thank the Our Savior Lutheran School Children's Choir, the Brass Ensemble from Durango and the Community United Methodist Church Handbell Choir for their talents and what they lent to the concerts. Proof again that this community is loaded with talent and works together.

Our hope is now that you'll continue to keep the real meaning of Christmas with you throughout the new year and join us again in celebration of His birth next year.

JoAnn Laird

For the Board of Directors

Community Christmas Choir

Thank you all

Dear Friends,

We thank all of you for rallying around us when the signs in our front yard at 965 Cloud Cap Avenue were contested last year. We are happy to tell you that the case is now closed and that the signs can remain in place based on earlier approval that dates back some 23 years.

The Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association Environmental Control Committee of PLPOA met on Nov. 16, 2000, and agreed unanimously "to close the case regarding the signs on the Laue's property." The former general manager of Pagosa in Colorado, Leonard Carey, assured the committee that he had approved all signs. Many of the restrictions that govern site improvements today were not in place at that time. Pagosa in Colorado, a division of Eaton Inter national, was the name of our subdivision before it was purchased by Fairfield.

Some of you might have noticed that one of the contested signs was not in its usual place for several months. We had removed the sign in order to freshen it up and make it look pristine again. And it is a good thing we did this. On Thanksgiving morning at about 5:30 a.m., a young man lost control of his truck on our icy road and ran into the sign post, ending up in our front yard. We were made aware of his dilemma when the flashing lights of his truck appeared on our bedroom ceiling. Since the sign itself is made of marble, it would have been destroyed had it been in its usual place.

It also so happened that the refurbished sign was replaced by Doug Ash, Pagosa Signmakers, just one day after we received the written notice of approval. Doug had no idea that a day earlier, on Monday, Dec. 11, a PLPOA employee had stopped by to give us the approval notice. Rebekah and I would say, "That's good timing, that's God's timing."

Come by and let us tell you our fish stories. We would like to show you the "rock trout" we discovered in the San Juan River.

Gratefully,

Peter and Rebekah Laue

King not queen

Dear David,

Concerning Jody Ray Morris' letter last week (Dec. 14) - George Washington "beat" a king (George III), not a queen. And, I am proud that my family fought at his side. Merry Christmas Pagosa.

Clark Sherman

An 18th generation American

 

People

Pagosa Profile

Get to know the people who make Pagosa work.

The Profile puts a face to the name of one of the many neighbors who serve our community.

 

Richard Valdez

Police Officer

Pagosa Springs Police Department

 

Where were you born and raised?

"I was born in Durango. I was raised in Pagosa Springs"

 

Where were you educated?

"I graduated from Pagosa Springs High School in 1991. I attended Larimer County Community College in Fort Collins and I went to Glendale Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. I attended the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy at La Junta and graduated from the Academy in July of this year.

 

Tell us about your domestic situation.

"I am single."

 

What work experience did you have before your employment by the Pagosa Springs Police Department?

"While I was in school, I worked construction and I worked for a demolition company. Then I worked for Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District for four years, from April, 1996 until I entered the Law Enforcement Academy."

 

What do you like best about your work?

" I like the fact that this kind of work is always changing. I also like that I am able to work with people."

 

What do you like least about your job?

"The hours."

 

Wedding

B.J. Love Jr. and Robin Lynn Hartgrave were united in marriage July 1, 2000, at Greeley Wesleyan Church, Greeley. Reverend Mike Dascoli, former youth minister of the bride, officiated.

Maid of honor was Nicole Green. Bridesmaids were Rebecca Donahue and Dawn Kissmen. Junior bridesmaid was Shawna Maxey, niece of the groom. Flower girl was Amy Mitchell. Best man was Jeremiah Yerton. Groomsmen were Jeremiah Ramey and Trent Lowe. Ringbearer was Corbin Maxey, nephew of the groom.

Parents of the couple are Ginny and Steve St. Amand of San Diego, Calif., Fred and Diane Hartgrave of Greeley and B.J. and Gail Love Sr. of Tulsa, Okla.

The couple resides in Greeley, where the bride is a dental assistant and the groom is presently a flight instructor, working towards a career in commercial aviation.

 

 

Anniversary

The families of Curt and Lynell Wiggers would be honored to have you in attendance as they renew their wedding vows taken 25 years ago. The celebration will be held at Community Bible Church on Dec. 27, 2000, at 7 p.m. A reception will immediately follow the ceremony. Your presence, thoughts and prayers will be the only gifts accepted by the couple.

 

 

Molly Davis

Molly Davis, daughter of Randall Davis and Cindy Hamilton, served as one of two student marshals at Fort Lewis College's Winter 2000 graduation ceremony Dec. 16.

A 1997 graduate of Pagosa Springs High School, Molly received this honor by achieving one of the highest grade point averages of her class. For her efforts, she received recognition in the graduation ceremony program, a medal, and led her class in the ceremony procession Saturday.

Through her studies at Fort Lewis College, she feels she has benefited most by the personalized effort put forth by faculty and students, who sincerely care about her and her educational endeavors. Molly is also a fan of Durango's small town appeal.

 

Sports Page

Pirates' defensive letdown leads to two losses

By John M. Motter

Pagosa's basketball Pirates retired for the holiday season with five wins and three losses after capturing one game and dropping two at the eighth annual Black Canyon Holiday Classic held in Montrose this past weekend.

The Buccaneers dropped their opening game to Gunnison 53-51, fell to Rifle 77-61 in their second game, then came back to beat Olathe 60-49 in their final game. Rifle captured the tournament championship. Pagosa's Tyrel Ross was named to the all-tournament team.

Following the holiday break, Pagosa hosts Bloomfield, N.M., Jan. 4, then travels to Buena Vista to play Eagle Valley Jan. 6. Eagle Valley is located in Eagle, just west of Vail.

Intermountain League play for the Pirates begins Jan. 12 at Bayfield. Other IML opponents are Centauri, Ignacio, and Monte Vista. Pagosa is the returning Intermountain League champion and a favorite to repeat unless some other team proves otherwise.

"We have to be regarded as the favorite, but we'll only win if we work harder than the other teams," said Kyle Canty, the Pirates head coach. "There are some tough teams in the IML and they will force us to win, nobody is going to give us anything."

Canty faulted his team's defense for the losses in the Black Canyon Classic.

"I thought our defense looked real good the week before, especially in the first half against Aztec," Canty said. "This week, our defense seemed to have slipped back. We fell behind early in all three games."

Gunnison 53, Pagosa 51

Pagosa's opening contest with the Cowboys from Gunnison provided the Pirates a chance for revenge against the squad which captured Pagosa's Wolf Creek Classic tournament a week earlier. Both teams swept through the Wolf Creek tournament with three wins and no losses. The Cowboys were declared tournament champion because they won their three games by bigger margins than did Pagosa. The two teams didn't get a chance to meet each other to determine who is really best until the opening game at Montrose. So which team was really best?

The Cowboys opened by building a 16-10 first-quarter lead. Pagosa fought back during the second period to narrow the halftime gap to 27-22, largely on the strength of two field goals and a 3-pointer from Daniel Crenshaw.

Micah Maberry came alive in the third period with four field goals, but the Pirates were outscored for the period 15-13 and trailed 42-35 going into the final quarter. Maberry popped in four more field goals down the stretch. Aided by Maberry's eight points, four points from Crenshaw and two points each from Ross and Darin Lister, the Pirates tallied 16 points, their best quarter of the game. Pagosa tied the score at 49 all with a little over one minute remaining, but when the final buzzer sounded, Gunnison was one field goal ahead.

Pagosa outscored the Cowboys from the floor 47 to 40, but lost the game at the charity stripe. The Pirates converted 4 of 6 from the free-throw line, while Gunnison made 13 of 17 attempts.

Maberry topped all scorers with 22 points. Crenshaw also reached double figures with 12 points.

David Goodenberger turned in eight assists and eight rebounds to top Pagosa in those departments.

Pagosa's shooters hit a dead-eye 63.3 percent by converting 19 of 33 attempts. From 3-point range, the percentage fell to 40 based on hitting 4 of 10 attempts. Pagosa hit 4 of 6 free throw attempts for a 66.7 percent conversion rate.

Rifle 76, Pagosa 61

Once again, the spread in scoring from the free-throw line favored the opposing team. In this case, Rifle successfully converted 28 of 34 free throw attempts. Pagosa succeeded in hitting 10 of 20 free throws.

From the floor, Pagosa outscored the Bears 51-48. The Pirates were especially effective from 3-point range where they hit 8 of 14 attempts.

Rifle opened a 15-10 first-period lead mostly fashioned from a pair of threes and two field goals by Steven Winschell. Goodenberger and Ross connected on treys and a field goal apiece for five points each to pace Pagosa. Pagosa captured the second period 11-8, but the defensive effort against Rifle began to take a toll as evidenced by the number of personal fouls collected by the Pirates. Rifle's half-time lead was only 23-21.

During the third period with several Pagosa starters on the bench because of fouls, Rifle outpointed the Pirates 25-13. Dominique Lucero came in to give Pagosa five points from the guard position, Maberry contributed four points, and Ross and Goodenberger two points each. Nevertheless, Pagosa fell into a hole it couldn't dig out of.

The final period was a barn burner. Rifle rang up 28 points, Pagosa Springs 27. Topping the Pirates scoring for the period was Brandon Charles, who sat out the third period because of a queasy stomach. Charles hit two treys and 4 of 7 from the free-throw line for 10 points during the period. Ross added six points, Goodenberger five points, and Lister and Crenshaw three points each. Pagosa was successful six times from beyond the 3-point stripe during the period.

Ross and Goodenberger topped Pagosa scoring with 16 points each. Ross' total included 3 for 4 from 3-point range. Charles reached double figures with 10 points. Goodenberger captured nine rebounds, the most of any Pagosa cager, followed by Ross with six rebounds.

Pagosa made 13 of 29 field goal attempts for a 44.8 shooting percentage. From 3-point range, Pagosa was successful 8 of 14 times for a percentage of 57. At the free-throw line, Pagosa shot 50 percent by making 10 of 20 attempts.

Pagosa 60, Olathe 49

Pagosa finally began playing defense during the second half against the Olathe Pirates. Olathe led 35-27 at halftime, but by the end of the third period Pagosa was ahead 45-43 and the Pagosa boys never looked back. Pagosa outscored their opponents 33-15 during the second half of the game.

Scoring for the Pirates was spread among six players, with Maberry's 16 points leading the way. Crenshaw added 13 points, Goodenberger 11 points, Ross and Lister seven points each, and Charles six points. Gooden- berger's 11 rebounds was tops in that department.

From two-point range, Pagosa was successful on 20 of 33 attempts for an outstanding 62.5 shooting percentage. From 3-point range, Pagosa converted 4 of 15 attempts for a little less than 27 percent accuracy. At the free throw lane, Pagosa converted 9 of 16 attempts for a percentage of 56.25.

 

Ladies take two of three in Montrose tourney

By Richard Walter

They cut down the turnovers, crashed the boards and played tough defense.

The combination allowed the Lady Pirates to win two of three contests in the Black Canyon Invitational basketball tournament last weekend in Montrose, losing 45-40 to the host school in the championship game.

The Ladies opened with a 51-35 defeat of Gunnison Friday afternoon, hitting a season high 26 of 41 shots from the field for a 63 percent shooting average. The next morning they parlayed a monster performance by Tiffanie Hamilton with the steady post play of Ashley Gronewoller in a 42-30 defeat of Olathe.

That set the stage for a return match against the Montrose Indians who had snared the championship a week earlier in the Wolf Creek Invitational in Pagosa Springs with a decisive 36-27 win over Pagosa.

The 45-40 loss to Montrose was a tight contest throughout, with the Lady Pirates holding their last lead at 38-37 when Gronewoller fouled out with 3:03 remaining. When Gina Davenport followed with a long 3-pointer, the host team had the lead back for good. In the last 13 seconds both Lancing and Andrea Ash fouled out and Montrose cashed all the ensuing free throws to ice the game.

Ironically, Davenport's trey was the Indians' only field goal of the period. Unfortunately, the Lady Pirates had only two in the period, both by Gronewoller. Lancing had four free throws in the period and eight for the game. SUN records indicate it was the first varsity game in which Lancing has not scored a field goal.

Pagosa took the early lead with a Gronewoller layup off a feed from Lancing but Ash was in early foul trouble, picking up a pair in the first 2:20 and when Davenport hit the first of her three treys for the game, Montrose had a 4-2 lead. Lancing countered with two from the line to give the lead back to the Lady Pirates.

Gronewoller had to come out when she picked up her third foul with 2:15 left in the opening stanza. Then Meigan Canty hit a driving layup for a pair but Carly Hornbeck answered with a deuce for Montrose.

Shannon Walkup drove for two for Pagosa but Hornbeck got one back hitting the first of two free throws after being fouled by Canty. Canty then hit the first of her two treys to give the Lady Pirates a 15-11 lead at the quarter. Then, she opened the second period with a reverse layup to boost the Pagosa lead to 17-11.

When Lancing hit 1 for 2 from the line, Pagosa had its biggest lead of the game at 18-11. Sisneros hit two quick shots for the Indians to slash the margin and after Emily Gibson cut the lead to one with a putback, Sisneros scored again to put Montrose in front.

Canty hit another trey and Janel Sutton answered with a deuce for Montrose and Davenport gave Montrose the lead again at 24-23 with 1:35 remaining. Canty came right back with a driving layup for two and, after Sisneros hit a free throw, Pagosa led 25-24 at the half.

Lancing was fouled 29 seconds into the second half and calmly canned both charity tosses after Sisneros had opened the half with a drive for two and the lead. Then Davenport hit another long bomb and the Lady Pirates were down 28-25.

Canty, on a corner feed from Hamilton, hit a 14-foot jumper to cut the lead to one at 28-27. Gronewoller's free throw gave Pagosa the lead at 29-28 and after a steal by Walkup, Ashley hit a turnaround to give Pagosa the lead at 32-30 with a minute left in the period.

Canty and Lancing each hit 1 of 2 from the line before Whitney Tucker scored her only points of the game and Sara Klippert hit another charity toss to give Montrose a 35-34 lead after three.

One of the big problems for the Lady Pirates was the inability of Lancing to shake off two or three defenders hanging on her arms every time she attempted a shot, and the refusal of the game officials to call the obvious fouls.

On one occasion, Lancing went up from the left corner with defenders clutching each arm. A third Indian player plowed into her from the back, driving her against the wall. The call: Traveling on Lancing. Another example came when Walkup took a stiff forearm to the head, bouncing her off the floor and raising a red welt. The officials' response: No infraction.

Canty paced Pagosa with 17 points, Gronewoller added 11, Lancing eight, and Hamilton and Ash each had two.

Coach Karen Wells agreed that her squad had grabbed back their pride in the contest but was disappointed by not getting the victory. She said the foul trouble caused her team to pull back from the offensive plan in the fourth quarter but would offer no excuses.

"Montrose is an excellent team," she said. "But we are going to be one too."

Pagosa vs. Gunnison

With former Lady Pirates coach Shonny Vanlandingham on the bench as a fill-in assistant to coach Wells, the Pagosa girls felt they had a good luck charm. Vanlandingham was subbing for assistants Shelley Osmera and Chantelle Kay who were at home for junior varsity and C-team competitions.

And the Ladies got another surprise before playing the tournament opener when Mandy Forest, the 6-foot star from last year's state playoff team, came in from Grand Canyon College to cheer on her hometown team. She was pressed into service as a record keeper for the Lady Pirates.

When 5-foot-6 senior guard Summer Fraser hit a long 3-pointer for Gunnison's first score of the game, Lady Pirates fans may have thought the good luck charms weren't working.

After a Cowboy free throw, Gronewoller soared for an offensive rebound and the putback to tie the game at three and then Hamilton hit her only score of the game, a 15-foot jumper, to give the Lady Pirates a 5-3 lead. Mariah Besecker countered with her only field goal and the score was at 5-5 with 2:38 left in the period.

Gronewoller then hit back to back deuces, one from each side of the lane and Lancing added one with 58 seconds left to stretch the Pagosa lead to 11-5. Besecker added two free throws and the quarter score was 13-7 for Pagosa.

Gronewoller opened the second period with a short jumper and Lancing stole the ensuing inbound pass and scored with the left hand for another pair. Fraser countered for Gunnison with a layup but Lancing came right back off an assist from Walkup to boost the score to 19-11 and moments later made it 21-11 scoring on an assist by Hamilton.

Ranae Romero canned two free throws after being fouled by Walkup.

The Lady Pirates padded their lead to 27-19 at the half and then put the game away with a 19-9 third quarter outburst featuring four points each from Canty, Gronewoller, Lancing and 5-foot-5 senior guard Amber Mesker who drove the lane on consecutive plays for 2-pointers.

The fourth quarter was anticlimactic with the Lady Pirates outscored 11-8 in the period as Wells substituted freely so each of her players would be rested for the afternoon game.

Lancing led the Ladies with 20 points, Gronewoller chipped in 16 and Canty added eight and Carlena Lungstrum three to go with Mesker's four. Gronewoller had 11 rebounds, five at the offensive end and Lancing had three at each end.

Pagosa vs. Olathe

Call this one the Tiffanie Hamilton show.

The 5-foot-10 senior forward scored five first quarter points and Gronewoller added 10 as the Ladies raced out to a 15-9 lead.

But then the Ladies went silent. For three minutes the offense which had clicked so well in the opening quarter could not find the basket. Lancing missed her first eight shots before getting her only field goal of the game to fall. Gronewoller added a deuce and Ash a free throw for a 5-point quarter.

Olathe, too, scored only two field goals in the period, a trey by Kylee Whitener, and a drive by Faith Williams for two. Jade Brown added four free throws to give Olathe nine points in the quarter and Olathe's Lady Pirates trailed their Pagosa counterparts only 20-18 at halftime.

The roles were reversed in the third period with Olathe scoring only 5 points on field goals by Whitener and Nicole Stender and a free toss by Talitha Henderson.

Meanwhile Hamilton, who had four rebounds in the first half, decided that everything which went up and didn't go in the basket belonged to her. She ripped down eight more rebounds in the quarter and added two field goals and two of her five steals for the game.

Canty hit a long three from the left side and Gronewoller picked up three with a field goal and a free throw and the Pagosa Lady Pirates carried a 30-23 lead into the final period against the Pirates from Olathe.

Lancing picked up seven free throws in eight attempts in the period and Hamilton picked off four more rebounds and added a free throw to give her 10 points for the game. Walkup and Gronewoller each had a field goal in the period.

All of Olathe's scoring in the period came from Henderson with a deuce and a trey and Stender with three free throws.

For the game, Gronewoller had two blocked shots and Hamilton one; Hamilton had 16 rebounds, Gronewoller 13 and Lancing nine; Hamilton and Walkup each had five steals and Lancing added four.

Gronewoller, Lancing and Canty were named to the all-tournament team along with Sisneros and Davenport of Montrose.

Pagosa is off now for the Christmas holiday, scheduled to return to action at home Jan. 4 against Bloomfield (N.M.) High School in a game set for a 5:30 p.m. start. Two days later they'll meet Aztec High School on the latter's home floor at 11 a.m. and then they'll kick off Intermountain League action at Bayfield Jan. 12 in a game slated for a 4 p.m. start.

 

Grapplers end season's first half building potential

By Karl Isberg

It was a young team with ranks depleted by vacationing athletes.

With that reality in mind, a mid-pack finish at the Bloomfield (N.M.) Invitational by Pirate wrestlers was a positive way to finish the pre-holiday portion of the season.

Pagosa placed tenth in a field of 20 teams at Bloomfield. Ahead of the Pirates were squads from larger New Mexico schools, among them perennial power and tourney winner Aztec, as well as Kirtland, Piedra Vista, Bloomfield and Shiprock.

Ignacio, Bayfield and Dolores bested the Pirates in the standings, while Pagosa defeated a team from Dove Creek.

The Pirates finished ahead of New Mexico teams from Grants, Farmington, New Mexico Military Institute, Navajo Prep and Taos as well as Arizona teams from Window Rock, Monument Valley and Wingate.

"We didn't get anyone to the finals," said Pirates coach Dan Janowsky, "but Michael Martinez finished third at his weight and Josh Richardson was fourth. What we got was a lot of mat time, and that's why we went down there. Even the guys who wrestled only twice spent 10 to 12 minutes on the mat."

With a number of athletes' parents opting to take vacations prior to the tournament at Bloomfield, Pagosa forfeited matches at five weights: 130, 145, 160, 189 and 215 pounds.

It was freshman Michael Martinez who led the way for the Pirates, competing at 103 pounds. When Martinez left the mat following his final match at Bloomfield, he had compiled an impressive 13-3 record at the holiday break.

Martinez was 4-1 at Bloomfield losing only his first match of the event 7-1 to a wrestler from the home team. From that point on, the Pirate thumped four consecutive opponents, with three pins to his credit.

First to fall was Ignacio's Kenny Centerbury who Martinez pinned in the second period.

Next up was Ryan Price of Piedra Vista. A Tohatchi, N.M., wrestler followed, his shoulders hitting the mat in the third period.

Martinez earned his final victory and the third-place medal by beating an Aztec opponent 6-3.

"First of all," said Janowsky, "Mike had a tough draw, getting the best guy at the weight in the first match. Michael got down 6-0 in the first period, but from that point on it was even out there. Michael really started attacking and the other guy got worried, got defensive and got called for stalling. Against the Ignacio kid, Mike picked up his offense, and against the kid from Piedra Vista, Mike was ahead 13-3 when he got the pin. He was up 6-1 against Tohatchi when he got the fall. The Aztec match was a good one, scoreless after one period. We chose to start down, and with 10 seconds left in the second period Michael reversed the kid. From there on, he gave up escapes and took the kid down for the win."

Richardson, fighting at 171 pounds, forged a 3-2 record to finish fourth at the tournament.

The Pirate senior pinned Kevin Black of Bayfield in the second period, then lost a 13-6 decision to a wrestler from New Mexico Military Institute.

Advancing with a win by a second-period fall against Reuben Mar- tinez of Taos, Richardson nailed another pin, defeating a Dolores opponent in the second period. In his match for third place, Richardson lost another decision, 9-1, to the wrestler from New Mexico Military Institute.

"For the most part," said Janowsky, "Josh wrestled real well. The kid from the military institute was a good thrower. Josh would shoot and the kid would throw him. Josh would get out and ride the kid and Josh was carrying the action. We just weren't able to read, adjust and make the necessary corrections during the match."

Jesse Trujillo was 1-2, winning his first match of the tournament at 112 pounds, pinning Leon Jones of Wingate, N.M. "Jesse had a real good first match," said the coach.

James Gallegos was 2-2 at Bloomfield. The 119-pound freshman scored a 9-7 decision over Robert Robinson of Farmington and won a 12-0 major decision over Window Rock's Brandon Lee. Gallegos lost matches to wrestlers from Aztec and Tohatchi. "I'm real happy with James," said Janowsky. "He got the takedown in the last 10 seconds of his first match. I commend his toughness; he doesn't back down if he gets into a bind."

Cliff Hockett (135 pounds) also compiled a 2-2 record, pinning Bill Schmitt of Farmington in the first period and pinning Bayfield's Matt Neil in the second period. Hockett, a sophomore, lost to athletes from Window Rock and Piedra Vista. "Cliff is wrestling with a lot of intensity," said the coach. "He will continue to get better."

Luke Boilini weighed in at 218 pounds, just over the qualifying weight to wrestle at 215 pounds. As a result, the Pirate junior competed against the big boys, at 275 pounds. Boilini acquitted himself well, finishing with a 2-2 record. A Farmington wrestler went down in a first-period fall and Boilini decisioned an athlete from Grants, 6-0. The Pirate lost matches to wrestlers from San Juan and Bayfield. "Luke is turning in good performances," said Janowsky. "He was giving away a significant amount of weight and he was tough to beat."

Ronnie O'Brien was 0-2 at 125 pounds and Trevor Peterson went 0-2 at 140 pounds.

Second season

With the first half of the season complete, the task ahead is to focus on developing the skills and attitudes needed to secure victories at the regional tournament and, hopefully, a trip to the state tournament.

Janowsky believes his young charges are on the right road.

"At this point," said the coach, "I can't complain about anything, especially when you figure in our maturity level and the extent of our experience. We have to be patient and be focused on making steady progress. I don't know how far we'll get, but I see our guys correcting mistakes. Most of our guys have 10 matches under their belts as of the Christmas break, where last year most had about five at the same time."

While the sledding has been tough for many of the wrestlers, Janowsky says spirits are generally high - a key element for a team with an abundance of underclassmen.

"The attitudes are good," he said. "The guys know what they're up against. They're figuring ways to win little things within a match. Enough little things, and. . . ."

The team practices daily this week until Saturday, then lays off for the holiday until Jan. 2. The athletes need to watch their holiday dining decorum, since the first test of the new season begins Jan. 6 at the Rocky Mountain Invitational, in Pagosa Springs.

"We've got the Rocky Mountain looking us in the face. I'm looking forward to it. We'll get mat time and see some good wrestling. We have a lot of potential points there. I expect them to materialize as we adjust our lineup and solidify our techniques. We're in the middle of the pack now, and I'll think we'll start to push our way to the top."

 

Community News

Chamber News
By Morna Trowbridge

Center closing Dec. 24-25, 31 and Jan. 1

Just a reminder to let you know when the Visitors Center and the Chamber of Commerce will be closed during the holidays.

The Visitors Center will be closed Dec. 24 and Dec. 31. The Chamber office and Visitors Center will both be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. We will have information available on members who still have accommodations available during the holiday season and who will be open for Christmas Eve and Christmas day for dining.

Citizen of the Year

Don't forget we'll need your nomination forms for Volunteer and Citizen of the Year turned in at the Chamber by Dec. 29. Candidates can be individuals, groups or organizations in Pagosa Springs that unselfishly give of their time outside of the workplace with work not specific to their job, are respected for their integrity, who give generously and with great humility expecting nothing in return, and who have been involved in the community for a number of years. Please take time to fill out a nomination form and return it to the Chamber so we can recognize deserving individuals, groups or organizations.

Dining Guide

Last Friday was the deadline for getting any changes or additions in to the Chamber for the 2001 Dining Guide. Guides go out each year to over 10,000 requests for information as a part of our summer, winter, and relocation packets - not to mention to the more than 45,000 visitors who have graced our Visitors Center this past year. If you have not sent your information to the Chamber, please give me a call at 264-2360 and I'll get the information in for you.

Many thanks

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Barb Cole, and Ron and Sheila Hunkin for helping out at the Visitors Center last week while I was holding down the fort by myself. They manned the VC so I could take a lunch break and run errands for the Chamber. Thanks again guys, we could not do it without our wonderful Diplomats.

Gourmet delights

Kathy Keyes of Pagosa Baking Company has her commercial kitchen up and running. She delivers fresh bread Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to WolfTracks Bookstore and Coffee Company, and to Handcrafted Interiors for retail sale. You can also purchase her cakes and other goodies at WolfTracks on a regular basis. She offers catering for weddings, parties, etc. You can contact her at 264-0051 for further information.

Gala fund-raiser

The Pagosa Players and The King's Men presents a New Year's Gala fund-raiser Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. at the Pagosa Lodge Ponderosa Room. Tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased at the Chamber of Commerce, WolfTracks Bookstore and Coffee Co., Mountain Landings, Diamond Dave's and the Pagosa Lodge. The group will put on a production by Jack Neary called "First Night," and a tribute to Marilyn Monroe and Elvis. Door prizes and gifts will be given out and the evening will feature dancing to the music of John Graves and "The Blue Moon Boys," a champagne breakfast buffet after midnight, tierras, hats and many more surprises. This is a sit-down dinner "Pagosa Formal" (jean, boots, and black tie). Call 731-3300 for more information. Seating is limited, make your reservations today.

Membership

We have two new members and 31 renewals to report this week. Don't forget, if you have not renewed for 2000-2001 as yet, you have until Jan. 2 to do so and be included in the new 2001 Business Directory.

Welcome to new member Pamela Novack with Equus Realty Colorado, LLC. Pam's office is located at 99 Fish Cove Court. Pam has a passion for Pagosa Springs and a passion for horses. Living in Pagosa Country for over 20 years she knows where to find exactly what you want. Pam can be reached at 731-1626 or by e-mail pamela@pagosa.net or via her web site at www.equusrealtycolorado. com.

Our next new member is Philip "Chuck" Watkins with Trugreen Homebuilders located at 520A Whispering Wood Drive. Trugreen Homebuilders is an environmentally conscious homebuilder focusing on the challenges of cost reduction, energy efficiency and sustainable living. You can reach Chuck at 264-2039 or by e-mail at trugreen-chuck@ hotmail.com or via his web site at www.trugreenbuilders.com.

Renewals this week include Pete Dach with Silver Dollar Liquor and Pagosa Bar; Pete Dach and Manual Archuleta with Silver Dollar Bonding; Rev. Richard Bolland with Our Savior Lutheran Church and School; Robin Collier with Tierra Wools; Fred C. Harman, III with Fred Harman Art Museum; Terrence Smith with American Southwest Log Homes and Ace Lumber and Hardware; Cary and Wendy Valentine with Rocky Mountain Ayerveda Retreat; Kathi DeClark with United Way of Southwest Colorado; James Grant with Pagosa Lakes Ranch, Inc.; Cathy Justus with Just Us Originals; Jeff Jones with Jones Mechanical, LLC; Terry Clifford with Clifford Construction; Linda and Charity Love with The Hideout; Debbie Candelaria with Pagosa Pet Parlor and Palace; Troy Ross with Troy Ross Construction LLC; Ross Aragon with Pagosa Springs Community Facility Coalition; Ron Bubb with Switchback Mountain Gear and Apparel; Richard Hodeson with Bad Moon Rodeo - Pagosa Night Rodeo; Vimmie Ray with Lobo Outfitters and Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park; Larry Fisher with the Ski and Bow Rack, Inc.; Jamie Sharp with FireFly Ranch; Kayla Douglas with Harmony Works; David Conrad with Millennium Renewables; and Karen Bunning with High Country Title, Inc.

Associate member renewals this week are Mayor Ross Aragon, Merilyn Moorehead, Gary and Wanda King, and Paul Nobels as Real Estate Associate with Four Season Land Company/GMAC.

 

Pagosa Lakes

By Ming Steen

Swim lessons begin in January, hours announced

Pagosa Lakes residents have been taking advantage of the early sale of 2001 Recreation Center user passes. In addition to one year and six-month memberships, punch passes are also available. There are punch passes for 12-use, 20-use or 32-use memberships. All of the above mentioned membership options are available only to property owners in Pagosa Lakes who are members in good standing with the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association, and their renters. Sponsored guests of a Pagosa Lakes property owner are eligible for only these Recreation Center use options - 12-use or 20-use punch passes or a daily fee. For more information on the Recreation Center memberships, please call 731-2051.

It's almost overwhelming at this time of the year to try to start planning for January. But bear with me. If you or your school-age children are interested in swim lessons, read on. Swim lessons will begin on Jan. 10, 2001. Classes will be offered on Wednesday and Friday, through Feb. 2 - a total of eight 30-minute lessons. Preschoolers, 3 to 5 years of age enrolled in swim lessons will be put into two classes based on ability level. Tadpoles, designed for new swimmers, will help young children develop safe pool behavior, develop independent movement in the water, learn basic paddle stroke and kicking skills. Preschoolers with advanced beginner swimming abilities will be placed in the minnow class. An advanced beginner is one who is comfortable in the water and can swim five to 10 feet without assistance on front and back. They will be taught to flutter kick, improve stroke skills, build endurance and tread water.

School age children ages 6 to 14 are divided into three classes, again based on swimming abilities. Shrimp, the beginning level, will get the child acquainted with the pool, the use of flotation devices, learn to float on front and back. By the end of this level, the child will know the front, side and back paddle strokes. Perch, the intermediate level, will begin to build student's endurance and continue to develop front, back and side strokes as well as teach the breaststroke. Trout, the advanced level, will teach students to perform and refine the crawl stroke, elementary back stroke, and side stroke. Students are also introduced to the butterfly stroke, underwater swimming, flip turns and water safety.

Here are the class times for the different groups. Tadpoles 4 to 4:30 p.m., Shrimp 4:30 to 5 p.m., Minnows 5 to 5:30 p.m., Perch 5:30 to 6 p.m. Adult intermediate stroke development, a total of four lessons, will be offered also on Wednesday and Friday, Jan. 10 to 19. The lesson will be from 6:30 to 7 p.m.

A pre-swim team clinic for school-age children wishing to join the swim team will be conducted from 6 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, Jan. 10, 12, 17, 19. The Pagosa Lakes Porpoise swim team will begin training on Jan. 22 with after-school sessions three times per week on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Practices are 90 minutes long, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Details on the swim team will appear in this column next week.

The Recreation Center will be open on Saturday, Dec. 24 from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. The Recreation Center will be closed on Christmas day. PLPOA administrative offices will be closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.

You all have a joyful Christmas.

 

Senior News

By Janet Copeland

Senior Citizen board elects president

The Mountain Harmony chorus entertained us at the Center at noon on Dec. 13. We want to say a big thank you to Connie Glover, LaDonna Radney, Pat French, Rita Arburr, Sharon Porter, Betty Lou Reid, Paula McFadden, Kathy Jackson, Nancy Smith, and Kathy Ferres. Even the children from Head Start, who came in to listen, were awe-struck with the beautiful music. In fact, the children entertained us on Friday with their singing of Jingle Bells and presentation of their personally-made pictures to all of the Seniors. Thank you, little ones.

Flash! Don't forget the Christmas Party/Gift Exchange on Friday (at noon), Dec. 22.

The election for new officers and directors for Archuleta Senior Citizens Inc. year 2001, was held on Friday. We are proud to introduce the new slate: Phil Heitz, president; Bob Kamrath, vice president; June Nelson, secretary; Glen Kinum, treasurer; directors - Dorothy Million, Doris Kamrath, Johnny Martinez, Ken Fox, Eva Darmopray and Teresa Diestelkamp, plus Janet Copeland as past president. This group is very dedicated to furthering and improving the service so the Senior Center and will welcome suggestions from one and all.

I want to thank the outgoing officers/directors who made my job possible and enjoyable during this millennium year: Phil Heitz, vice president; Doris Kamrath, secretary; George Ziegler, treasurer; directors - Teresa Diestelkamp, June Nelson, Wayne Van Hecke (who moved away and was replaced on the board by Eva Darmopray); and past president Eugene Copeland.

The Senior bus will travel to Durango on Dec. 26 for the big after-Christmas sales extravaganza. There will be a slight increase in price for the trip in order to cover the space for all the packages that will be making the trip back to Pagosa.

People in this community are always more than generous, and particularly at this time of the year. A big thanks to the donors of many nice clothing items for our seniors.

Archuleta County Elderly Housing has asked me to say thank you to the donor of the flowers donated to them.

Brenda Waldenbauer is our Senior of the Week. Congratulations, Brenda.

We appreciate the Christmas greetings received this week from Donna and Sy Kolman, Carol Adams, and Jennie Gallegos.

We wish all of our members very happy holidays and good health for the coming year. 

Cruising with Cruse
By Katherine Cruse

Congregation traces religious traditions

My church, the Pagosah Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, celebrated the Holy Day holiday last Sunday afternoon.

We're a small group, as churches go. We don't have a building of our own; we meet at the Archuleta County Extension Building. Some of us would like our own building; some of us prefer it this way. We meet twice a month. In keeping with the Unitarian practice of finding consensus, we decided some years ago to alternate between morning and afternoon services

We don't have a minister yet. Sometimes we arrange for other Unitarian ministers to come and conduct the service and present a "real" sermon. Sometimes we invite people in the community to speak to us about their own unique expertise. And sometimes we call upon the talents of our own members.

Like last Sunday.

Unitarians come from many religious backgrounds. The service on Sunday, arranged and led by several of our members, called upon a variety of religious teachings. We sang traditional Christmas carols and some that are seldom heard, probably because they're so hard to sing. In place of a sermon, we heard about some of the many religious traditions that were eventually incorporated into Christmas traditions.

For example, what are the origins of the Christmas tree? One scholar says that morality plays in Germany during the Middle Ages were set in the Garden of Eden. The plays pointed out the contrasts between Adam, the first man, and Christ; between sin and redemption. The Tree of Knowledge was a central aspect of those plays. It's just possible that the tree from which Eve plucked the fruit is the tree that evolved into the later German Christmas tree.

One of our members told the Hanukkah story. It originates from about 135 BCE, when the king, or emperor, Antiochus, and the Greeks ruled what is now Jerusalem. Under Antiochus, Jews were forbidden to practice their religion and were forced to pay obeisance to various Greek deities. Finally a few brave people rebelled, retreated into the mountains and waged a guerrilla war against the army of Antiochus. More Jews joined them; eventually the Greek army was driven from the region.

Following the defeat of the Greeks, the Jews reclaimed and purified the Temple, which the Greeks had profaned. But when they came to relight the sacred light that hung over the Torah, they could only find enough pure olive oil to burn for one day. To get more oil would take a week. But they poured this little vial of oil into the lamp and lit it. And lo!, the flame burned for eight days, long enough for the messengers to return with a new supply of oil.

When she was a child, said our speaker, she thought the miracle of Hanukkah was the fact that the day's supply of oil lasted for a week. Now she knows that the real miracle is that when a few determined people stand up for what they believe in, they are stronger than entire armies.

This is the season of lights - Hanukkah candles, Advent lights, the Star in the east: lights to dispel the darkness, while we wait for the solstice, or for the birth of the Babe, or for the turning of the new year.

For our service there was a tree, covered with strings of white lights, symbolic of stars. Except that the bulbs were dark. One after another, we named people who were important in our lives, our stars, if you will. We celebrated our husbands and wives, deceased parents, children, friends and mentors. And for every person we named, we turned a bulb, so that eventually our tree was glowing brightly, a tree of stars, symbolic of the human stars in our lives.

We had another sharing ceremony during this service. The leaders had asked us to bring some memento, some object that was important in our own personal Holy Day traditions. The objects were as varied as the members of our congregation. There were handmade ornaments, some of them extremely old.

There were cookies and a Buche de Noel. There was a tiny Bible, made of wax and decorated with gold, that had been carried by Hungarian refugees fleeing to the west, many years ago. There were old toys, a nutcracker soldier, an album of wedding pictures.

And because this is my column, I'll tell you about the object I placed on that table of treasures.

About 25 years ago, when our children were pretty young, Hotshot brought home a small copy of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," bound in red leather and embossed in gold letters. The pages were edged in gold. A book that looks this special deserves special consideration.

"We're going to read this, a little bit at a time," he said, "starting right after Thanksgiving." And that's what we did. We gathered in the living room, and he began with the opening words, "To begin with, Marley was dead." The kids were spellbound. Heck, so was I. Hotshot is a great reader, especially when he has such a topic and such a variety of characters to bring to life.

We had to skip some nights, when there were social obligations, but he timed it so that the last pages were finished on Christmas eve. A tradition was born.

Later, at other times, we read other books aloud, one chapter at a time, and with those we all took turns reading. But "A Christmas Carol" was Hotshot's book, the one he performed for us every year.

We became experts. We got to know certain lines by heart. As their father read, our children would wait eagerly to shout them out along with their dad's voice. Our family attended performances of "A Christmas Carol;" we watched different versions on television. We snorted with scorn when Dickens' original words were altered, or worse, when they were omitted.

"A Christmas Carol" is the story of a man's descent into miserliness and his eventual redemption through the work of three ghosts, or spirits. It features people who find their joy in being together, who remain cheerful in spite of poverty and adversity and grumpy neighbors. The final chapter, when Scrooge wakes to find that it's still Christmas morning, that he hasn't missed it after all, that the spirits did their work in all in one night, is splendidly joyous.

The message of the book, the message of my Fellowship's service, the message of Christmas for many of us, is the same message. It's a time to share, to look to the well-being of our fellow humans, to come together. Whatever religious tradition we follow.

Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Be.

Library News
By Lenore Bright

Hershey, Exxon grants welcomed

We are pleased to announce a $5,000 gift from the Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation. This will help buy new material for our Southwest, reference, and animal collections. The Hersheys have been strong supporters of our programs through the years. The Hershey Collection covers the Southwest in all areas.

Exxon Corporation Grant program matched a gift from Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Bohannon Jr. These funds will help fund Science Fair projects.

New books

Beading seems to be the hot craft item this season.

We have a number of books on the subject. Bead International 2000 puts out one of them: "The Best in Contemporary Beadwork." This collaboration is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of traditional crafts.

Another popular craft is covered in "515 Scrapbooking Ideas." This is a gold mine of designs to transform treasured memories into beloved keepsakes.

A number of books on transforming old furniture into good-looking pieces are now in the collection.

"Furniture Facelifts: a Paint Recipes Book" gives step-by-step directions to revamping your furniture. This is one of the most complete books with techniques for fabric, wood, metal, and glass.

"Just Junk: New Looks For Old Furniture," by Reader's Digest and Linda Barker, shows how to find unlikely treasures and transform them into stylish furnishings. Barker shows how to select items from flea markets and garage sales.

But before you get carried away turning junk into treasures, be sure you don't have a treasure to begin with. The "Antiques Roadshow Primer" is an introductory guide to antiques and collectibles from the most watched series on PBS. This enormously popular series has taught us to look for hidden treasures. The book focuses on transforming you from an enthusiast into a connoisseur. Don't be redecorating something that is already priceless.

We have an extensive antiques collection, and also a variety of crafts and redecorating material for your enjoyment.

Holiday fare

We are privileged to have a good selection of books about the various holiday traditions - Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Solstice celebrations. A new one, "A Christmas Treasury," has a wealth of tales and poems.

Donations

Thanks for materials from Judy Lynch, Carol Mestes, Betty Feazel, Lee Sterling, and all of you who have been so generous all year long.

Library closings

We will be closed Dec. 23 through Dec. 26. We will be open for three days then closed again Dec. 30 until Jan. 2 for inventory. The staff and board members thank you for a successful year.

Local Chatter
By Kate Terry

Elections have patron; he's called St. Chad

Thanks to Sue Cowdery who sent this piece. It was sent to her by Tom Gossen, of Wichita. He was musing about the election and after doing some research learned a few things of possible interest to all of us. This is his text.

"As a medievalist, I found this funny . . . about the only funny thing in this mess. What we need (I said to myself) is to find out who the patron saint for contested elections is and ask his or her intercession.

"Well, it turns out there is one. And you're not going to believe what follows, but it's true:

"His name is St. Chad. No, I am not making this up.

"Chad was born in ancient Britain, probably about 620, to Saxon parents. His people had been pagan, but his parents were baptized by St. Aidan. Thus he represents the Celtic, rather than the Roman stream of Christianity.

"As a youngster he was sent to the bishop of Northumbria to be educated.

"Later, he seems to have gone to the Irish monastery-schools established by St. Patrick, and then to Iona, where he was ordained priest, and, after the death of two of his brothers in a plague, eventually became head of a small abbey near Whitby.

"Chad is perhaps best known for not being Archbishop of York. In mid-life he returned to Northumbria, being called by its king to be chief bishop there (and thus, Archbishop of York).

"He was elected and duly installed, but various persons raised objections on the grounds that his consecrators were bishops who followed the Celtic church calendar and customs rather than the customs then being imported from the continent and from Rome.

"Not wishing to cause division in the church, Chad withdrew (note well) in favor of another candidate. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who was greatly impressed by Chad's humility, subsequently consecrated him bishop of Litchfield in Mercia, where he worked for the remainder of his life."

And Tom ends by saying, "St. Chad, pray for us and it's a wonderful world, eh."

Looking for references? Sure enough, there are plenty. Here are a few:

http://www.saintchads.org.uk/stchad.htm

http://users.erols.com/saintpat/ss/0302.htm

Fun on the run

It is reported that Mother Theresa had this on her wall:

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.

"If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.

"If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.

"If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.

"What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.

"If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.

"The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.

"Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway.

"You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It never was between you and them anyway."

 

Editorials

Adjusting our focus

Each December in the United States it becomes a common concern that buying gifts, giving gifts and receiving are becoming the main focus of Christmas. Many try to justify the gift-giving tradition by citing the "magi from the east" who after a long, careful search found the Christ child, opened their treasures and presented him with "gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh."

Giving gifts is nothing new.

Initially, the God of creation offered to give Adam the gift of perfect provision and prosperity, asking that Adam give conscious and consistent obedience in return.

The God of Abraham offered to give Moses and the Israelites freedom, protection, perpetual prosperity and the power to prevail over nations; asking that they give unreserved trust and worship in return.

The God of Israel offered to give Bethlehem shepherds joy and peace, asking in return that they acknowledge a newborn child as the Savior, the Christ, the Messiah, the Lord.

God historically has graciously been willing to give much more than mankind has been willing to receive.

There are four more shopping days until Christmas. We are running out of time for deciding what gifts we want to give this Christmas. By Monday we will know what gifts we will receive this Christmas.

Somewhere between now and then, some of us will be reminded that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Someday, while considering the promise that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. . . ." some of us might want to focus our attention on the reality that while it is more blessed to give than to receive, it is eternally more blessed to receive the gift of God than to reject him.

Merry Christmas.

David C. Mitchell

 Dear Folks

By David C. Mitchell

Remembering December 21st

Dear Folks,

Today is December 21.

It's a very special day in my life.

It's Cynthia's birthday.

Had she not been born, I obviously never would have met her.

Had I never met her, I never would have had the courage to ask her to marry me. Had she not married me, I probably would not be writing this weekly column.

Had I never met Cynthia, I seriously doubt if I still would be living in Pagosa.

I started at the SUN in April 1981. I had submitted my resignation to School District 50 Jt. It was my intent to eventually assume the responsibilities of Glen Edmonds, the former editor of the SUN.

I met Cynthia in September 1981. She had signed a contract with School District 50 Jt. It was her intent - for one year at the most - to assume the responsibilities of Mrs. Ima Edmonds, the former librarian of Pagosa Springs High School.

As a friend, a wife and a mother, Cynthia is the epitome of the once popular song, "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To."

She's my reason for not wanting Christmas or birthday presents - thanks to her, I already have much, much more than I could have ever hoped.

I hope that when I woke up this morning that I remembered that it's December 21 and that it's Cynthia's birthday.

It's also the fourth day of her Christmas vacation.

It would be great if she sleeps late this morning.

Hopefully it will be a clear, sunny day and that she and Maggie can go walking on the ridge.

Today would be the perfect day for the elk to graze the valley.

Surely her friends the finches, jays and all - Cynthia knows their names, to me they are birds - will congregate and visit her feeders.

It will be a perfect day if she gets to visit with Charla or Kathlene or Dorothy or Becky or Lee the mother to be.

I better stop before I get myself in trouble.

I better read, re-read and re-write a number of times what I've written in hopes that I haven't messed up.

If my tongue would move as slow as my fingers do when I type, I would have tried to verbalize my thoughts. Instead, when I talk, my words seem to bypass the thought process as they tumble clumsily out of my mouth into a pile of confused and cluttered sentiments.

So in essence, this week's column is an expression of my thoughts and a confession of my fears.

Yes, I've succumbed to my fears. I was afraid to try to tell Cynthia my thoughts tonight when we're eating supper. I was afraid I would forget what I wanted to say.

So yesterday evening when it was time to write this column, all I could think of was: Tomorrow is December 21. December 21 is Cynthia's birthday. I can't forget. I've got to remember.

If my memory did not work as slow as my fingers do when I type, I would not harbor my justified fear of forgetting. I might have expressed some much different thoughts in this column.

But rather than take a chance, I wanted to be certain that I did not forget today is Cynthia's birthday and that I remembered to tell her how thankful I am that she was born.

I'll probably be somewhere else when she reads this. It's safer that way.

If I'm lucky, she will take today's column in stride.

If she doesn't, don't be surprised if this space is blank next Thursday.

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

David

 

25 years ago

4 Pagosa teachers honored

Taken from SUN files

of Dec. 25, 1975

Four Pagosa Springs teachers were honored last Thursday night at a dinner at Pagosa Lodge for having taught in the district 20 years or more. The teachers included Mrs. Ruby Sisson, who has taught in the district for 45 years; Mrs. Billie Breedlove, middle school math teacher; Mrs. Violet DeVore and Mrs. Susie Trujillo, who both teach at the elementary school.

Joe Stewart, president of the Pagosa Fire Protection District, announced Tuesday that Norman Lewis will serve as chief of the newly-formed fire department in that district.

On Friday, the Upper San Juan Emergency Medical Technicians completed their 20-hour refresher course for continued state certification. EMT's Herb Browning, Judd Cooney, Bill Downey, Joe Fahrion, Gary Goad, Ron Henderson, Dr. Leonard Marquez, Tom Richards, Ron Robinson, Bill Schoonover and Roy Vega successfully completed the course and passed the written examination.

Jerry Driesens won the $100 cash prize for his entry, "Pagosa Springs Frosty Frolic" being selected as the name for the first annual winter carnival in Pagosa.

Legacies
By Shari Pierce

A look at Pagosa's Christmas 100 years ago

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to take a look at Christmas 100 years ago here in Pagosa Springs. Was it different than what Christmas 2000 will be?

In weeks approaching the holidays, local businesses advertised their Christmas merchandise. P.H. Schultz and F.H. Buckles of The OK Store gave suggestions for gifts to aid their customers in decision making. For the boys they offered "sleds, drums, horns, bicycles, and the most recent alive mechanical and bulb toys." For the girls they stocked dolls - "a never-ending source of delight to your little girls." They also carried cribs, carriages and furniture from kitchen to bedroom and parlor for the dolls.

For the wife, The OK Store recommended "ornamental and useful household articles." This included china and glassware with exquisite designs. And general gift merchandise ideas were purses, toilet articles, fans, combs, perfume, handkerchiefs, gloves and shoes.

The local newspaper encouraged readers to shop in Pagosa saying a gift could be found for anyone in Pagosa stores.

Christmas 1900 included school programs offered by students to celebrate the season. The newspaper carried an accounting of two such programs that included songs, games and recitations by the students.

Members of the Methodist Church offered songs and a Christmas program to the community. They also had a unique program to distribute gifts throughout the community. If a person wanted to, they could purchase a gift for a friend and leave it at the Methodist Church. Members of the church then distributed the gifts for Christmas.

The Baptist Church also offered a Christmas program for the community.

There were no cars to jump into for last-minute trips to the store. There was no TV to occupy the little ones with Christmas movies played time and time again. No delivery services to rush last minute gift purchases across the United States to arrive in time for Christmas.

And so was Christmas 1900 very different from Christmas 2000? Not really.

Members of the community were busy celebrating the birth of Jesus. They were presenting programs and delivering gifts. Much time was spent choosing gifts of appreciation for important people in their lives. Very much the same as our community and families are doing today. And so while some things are different, mostly they are the same. I wish you and your family happy holidays and hope you are creating your own family traditions this holiday season.

 

Features

Pacing Pagosa
By Richard Walter

Two stars a portent of miracle

The year was 1948. Pagosa Country was beginning to rebound after World War II, but an improved economy was still a dream aborning. For many youngsters in the community Boy Scouts was a new idea. It had been tried before but each time just faded away. Many said there were no qualified leaders because they were all involved in the war effort.

This time, however, there was leadership and a place to meet. The troop was sponsored by the Methodist Church and meetings were in the church.

There were Scout caps and kerchiefs but no full uniforms. It was, however, a group which learned quickly and wanted to fund activities for themselves.

Someone associated with the program suggested we might sell Christmas trees.

And the effort was approved. Permits were secured to cut the trees way above the terminus of First Notch Road and several local residents volunteered use of their trucks to haul the greenery out.

What no one anticipated was that the biggest storm of the year would come in the first week of December. The trucks could make it only part way up First Notch and all the trees we had cut were stacked about a mile from where they were forced to turn around.

Young Scouts of all sizes trudged through the deep drifts, shoveled and shook snow off the fallen trees and, one by one, carried them back through the snow to where they could be loaded onto the trucks.

Back in town, the sale site was established next to Lois Kinser's Diner, an old rail car converted to an eatery on the site where the SUN now stands.

The kids who had cut and carried out the trees took turns as sales crew during the weeks leading to Christmas Day. Each night, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., they were responsible for taking the cash payments, making proper change for customers, and then securing the site for the night.

It was a tough sell. Prices went all the way from 50 cents for a two-footer up to $4.50 for a 6-7 footer and money wasn't the most common commodity in Pagosa Country at the time.

We had cut 250 trees of varying sizes and by the end of the sales season, one lone scraggly pine with boughs missing down one side remained. No Scout would admit he was the one who cut this tree.

No one wanted that little tree. But it would find a home.

A troop member told us of a family in his neighborhood which had few if any prospects for a Merry Christmas. He suggested we might cheer them with a tree of their own, albeit one of the most scraggly specimens we'd ever seen.

His idea was that each member of the troop bring one ornament from home. The church sponsor offered to provide a silver garland and one industrious lad volunteered to build a proper stand for the ugly tree.

A mother made a star of aluminum foil to sit atop the tree and 16 ornaments were carefully hung, intertwined with the silver garland. A Scout and his sister joined to string popcorn for another decorative effect and still another produced luminescent plastic icicles to add to the decoration.

At last, on Christmas Eve, we were ready to deliver the tree. A parent offered use of a pickup to haul it but the Scouts agreed that would be too obvious.

"Why not use a sled?" one asked.

"Why not," we agreed.

A troop member volunteered his Silver Runner for the delivery and we came up with a ball of twine to anchor it down.

Silence was paramount if our surprise were to remain a surprise. How do you keep 16 Scouts quiet? Promise them a treat afterward.

And so we were off. The scraggly tree now a gleaming salute to the season. As the sled skimmed along with the tallest Scout pulling and the smallest walking right behind to make sure the tree didn't slip.

New snow was falling as we neared the house that Friday night. No lights shone inside and one troop member noted later that there were no wires leading to the structure.

We cut the twine and two Scouts carefully lifted the tree that had now become like a member of the troop and - snow crunching beneath our feet - carefully approached the two wooden steps leading to the door.

Somehow, the Scout-made base fit perfectly on the top step. Somehow the sound of our approach went unnoticed.

We backed off and stood silent, perhaps savoring the moment for memories such as this one.

But as we admired our production, we were struck by an object we hadn't noticed in our stealth to place the tree.

Hanging from a nail on the door was a lone 5-point star. It had been made by hand from scraps of wood and linked together with strips of baling wire. The star atop our tree stopped at the point where the wooden one began. Two stars were more than any of us had ever seen on a Christmas tree.

Silently, we eased back from the scene and then returned to the church where punch and cookies were waiting.

Someone asked if there were any special significance to a tree with two stars hanging above. No one could think of an answer.

On Christmas Day, as we opened our own gifts, we wondered if the tree had helped brighten the day for the recipient family.

The community was quiet as Christmas dawned. But from one house came news of a surprise Christmas visit.

Someone had left a decorated tree at their door, the residents said. And when they opened the door that morning they found a dozen beautifully wrapped gifts surrounding the tree.

Gifts? Where had they come from? We were as stunned as they. We knew the source of the tree, but never did we learn where the presents originated. It was suggested, however, that maybe there was some divine intent in the two homemade stars.

To this day, the Methodist church sponsors a Scout Troop and to this day the unit has devoted itself to civic awareness and assistance. Every year, for example, they collect non-perishable goods to be distributed to the needy.

A star still shines on the community. It looks down from Reservoir Hill thanks to the efforts of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, a modern reminder of the star which led wise men from afar to a manger in Bethlehem.

The Circle of Friends told us the story earlier this year of their prayers and the events they stage to help defray expenses for families devastated by disease.

The significance of the mystery of what happened in Pagosa Springs during the 1948 Christmas season and the seemingly unending dedication of our residents to the well-being of their neighbors, often in complete anonymity, pale in comparison to the birth which took place in that stable.

If anyone doubts the generosity of Pagosans, they should visit the SUN offices where packages destined for the needy, through Operation Helping Hand, are beginning to occupy every available space.

I'm certain we'll hear of another Pagosa Springs miracle at Christmas here this year, next year and on into the future. Pagosans, you see, are miracle makers.

 Food for Thought

By Karl Isberg

 

Bohemian journey ends with death

As I write this, scores of legal eagles are considering a recount of votes in Marsupial County, Florida.

Some say the nation is adrift.

I say, If you shop at Hamsters R' Us, you can argue all day long and you still end up buying a hamster.

Furthermore, I say, Who cares.

I've got more important things to ponder than a presidential election. The election happens every four years. What I'm thinking about happens, in a truly meaningful way, only once.

Death.

The End. Lights out. The Maximum Nap.

There are some among us who allay the fear produced by absolute ignorance by pretending they understand death, and there are those who sidestep the awful impact of death's strangeness with platitudes and pat phrases repeated endlessly, like a mantra, to temper their anxiety.

I've heard all the options, studied all the theories, pondered the ideas.

I dunno.

I had a friend die last month. He was a couple of years younger than me. He just keeled over.

Dead.

This got me thinking: Hey, this might happen to me some day!

I just wish I knew when it was going to happen.

My friend's name was Kirk. He was my friend for 35 years, and the funniest goofball I ever knew.

Actually, Kirk and I had three friendships. We met when we were young. We decided the rock and roll business was the way to go in life. We planned to join a band and go on the road, travel the highways and byways of our great land, play zany, loud music, live the bohemian life in New York City. Whoowee.

I went ahead and did it and almost killed myself. Kirk backed out, stayed behind and went to college.

He was always smarter than I.

When I got shipped home in a large plastic container, Kirk was waiting and we forged our friendship anew, at college. He loved poetry and literature. He loved to write. We started a literary journal together. We studied art together. We decided to embark on another bohemian journey, living the studio life of the avant garde artiste, sleepless, surviving on steamed milk and moldy surplus cheese from the railroad salvage store.

I went ahead and did it and almost killed myself. Kirk backed out, stayed in school, and got married.

He was always smarter than I.

Then, Kirk was gone to Canada where he lived for many years - above Vancouver in Bella Coola; in Edmonton and Toronto; and, finally, in Port Hood, Nova Scotia. He wrote, painted anal retentive images extracted from a seaside life, fished for lobster and began a pursuit of craftsmanship that would end in mastery.

Our third friendship began when Kirk returned to the States. He came back with a deep appreciation of Rimbaud, Robertson Davies, hardwoods, Courvoisier (warmed before it is consumed), the full panoply of red wines, and Indian cuisine. He also came back prepared to undertake a career.

As a writer?

No.

As a painter?

No.

As an alcoholic?

No.

Kirk came back armed with skills drilled into him by one-fanged Scot carpenters in the humid cool of Port Hood. He came back to be a cabinet maker.

And be became one of the best, forging a reputation as a creator of fine furniture.

He also taught me to make vindaloo. He was a hell of a cook: a maestro of the odd food, deftly prepared.

When I moved to Pagosa, Kirk had a second wife and a new family and we ceased communicating on a regular basis. I knew - and I am certain he knew too - that our fourth friendship was just around the corner.

Not so.

He died.

Just like that.

Death's funny that way.

I was at the gym the other day, lifting heavy objects and putting them back down, contemplating recent events. I told Wally and Tony about my friend's demise, and they shook their heads. What do you do? Maybe tell a parallel story about someone who expired prematurely. Tell a story about opportunities lost?

In between sets, I told the guys about a discovery - a new, favorite website: deathclock.com. The events of the past month caused me to take extra interest in the site. I become obsessed at the drop of a hat. Or of a friend.

Lacking platitudes and a mantra, the internet is all I've got.

You log on to the website and engage in an actuarial relationship with a computer. You enter a date of birth and a few pertinent facts and the machine tells you when you will die. It provides you with a counter that lists the seconds you have left and those seconds click off with merciless regularity.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I am going to die Aug. 3, 2020. This stark linear calculation is enhanced by the reality that I eat and drink way too much, and that my record of indulgence and bad habits is extensive and long in the making. But, I ameliorate this with the fact that my old man was a champion of self-abuse and lived a whole lot longer than any insurance agent would have guessed. I figure if I lose twenty pounds, I have an outside chance of making it to 2030, unless Kathy shoots me. I might not know where I am or what I'm doing if I survive to 2030, but will I care?

Kathy will be there when I expire, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, probably wearing idiotic hats and gaudy floral-print dresses, and babying a Char Pei. She's not zeroing out until April 19, 2025.

I got Wally's date of birth and found out he will cease lifting heavy objects and putting them down September 20, 2011. Wally was not happy when he heard this. I soothed him by telling him Tony and I will deadlift (get it?) the coffin at his funeral. Right after the eulogy, Tony and I will do three, ten-rep sets. Temporarily mollified, Wally went back to his side laterals and yelled at the television whenever it showed the image of Vice President Al Gore.

Tony has a bit more time left to throw the iron around. He will finish his last bench press September 24, 2030, given he doesn't run his Harley into a cement truck before then.

I now visit deathclock.com nightly, plugging in the birth dates of everyone I know. I even check my scheduled date with the Reaper, just in case the computer wants to let me live a bit longer. So far, no change. When the clock appears in the corner of the screen, I wistfully watch a minute or two click away before I move on to another calculation.

Russell is going to move back to Louisiana in time to blink out on March 21, 2011. He needs to eat, smoke, and drink as much as possible in the little time that's left. He does these things well.

Mindy was very excited about me looking up the Big Days for her and Roy. She e-mailed their birth dates from Florida. Roy is set to expire August 1, 2024, if his high school students don't drive him to an early end. Mindy is a mere babe in the woods, not scheduled to draw her last breath until January 18, 2045. The pesky tyke is one of a few friends with more than a billion seconds left on the clock.

Donnie will report for duty at the eternal police station March 19, 2026. That gives him 26 more big game seasons to try to kill an elk with his bow and arrow.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

The bottom line: Since our mortal Chads are going to be permanently dimpled, we need something to eat and drink. Something in honor of my friend Kirk and all the family members and friends who've had their chads dimpled before us. To toast ourselves as we await the inevitable.

A little good food, some vino. . . forget the platitudes, forget the predictions . . . this situation ain't so bad.

Let's chow down on Kirk's favorite vindaloo.

Take a mess of lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into inch cubes.

Marinate the lamb cubes overnight in vindaloo paste, diluted with white vinegar. Okay, so you can't find decent vindaloo paste in Pagosa. Travel, for heaven's sake. Travel!

Patak is my favorite brand of vindaloo paste - dark, sinister, fraught with ramified flavor. Kirk brought me my first jar of Patak, from Toronto. If you keep a jar on the shelf for any length of time, no matter how tight the industrial-grade seal, the jar begins to sweat a bizarre, orangish, viscous fluid. In our paranoid Western world, this kind of activity by a food product signals a toxic situation. To a competent Indian chef, the discharge is the harbinger of culinary delight.

Slice a couple of white onions and put the slices in the marinade.

The next day, take the meat and marinade and put it in a heavy pot. Add a can of tomatoes, crushed by hand, and their juices. Add a splash more vinegar, if you dare. Bring to a boil then turn to low, cover and simmer. For hours, adding fluids if needed. Until the lamb begins to fall apart. Taste frequently and adjust the seasonings when necessary (more paste, salt, a hit of minced ginger, a dusting of garam masala). If you are weak, add a splash of coconut milk shortly before the vindaloo is complete. If you do this, do not tell anyone: it is a shameful and cowardly thing to do to this transcendental melange.

Serve the vindaloo over Basmati rice. Make sure you have a riata, or a bowl of plebeian cottage cheese nearby to aid the afflicted in their hour of need.

Strange as it sounds, I think a pinot noir is appropriate. It's relatively light, and the fruitiness balances the fire and grit of the vindaloo.

Pour a major-league portion of pinot.

Take a major league hit of vindaloo, then one of the wine.

Here's to you Kirkie.

Perhaps, we'll meet again.

I dunno.

Features

Pacing Pagosa
By Richard Walter

Who'd dare kiss in front of the kids?

Come on, admit it. You've just been looking for a legitimate reason to utter that famous Christmas cry, "Bah, Humbug!

Well go ahead, this is your day. And you know almost everything now has it's own day when you read in no less venerable a publication than Capper's that this is, in fact, Humbug Day.

It is described as a day for people to vent their frustrations while making final preparations for the holiday coming Monday.

In keeping with that premise, I hearken back to Pagosa BMDEP (before massive development ended pristine) and the wonder of new Christmas songs on the radio, that lone form of outside entertainment available before the arrival of television (excepting, of course, the theater).

One such offering was by country and western singer Jimmy Boyd, who was chagrined when people reacted with alarm to his rendition of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."

It should have been evident to even the most casual listener that the Santa in the song's lyrics was the father of the child doing the singing and that it was illustrative of children sneaking down the stairs on Christmas Eve to see what Santa might have left for them under the tree.

"Promoting sex", charged critics of the song. "Giving children the idea it's OK for their mother to kiss strange men," echoed other self-anointed Puritans of the Airwaves.

The singer's career took a black eye because he dared express the wonder of a Christmas tradition through a child's eyes in terms everyone could understand.

This "terrible" affront took place like so many other smooches during the Christmas season, under the mistletoe. How many other kisses planted on friendly lips under the fabled sprigs were branded as "free love" or "invitations to sin?" Darned few, I suspect.

Kisses, it seemed, were OK in the neighborhood bar or in the office place.

But, in a home?

Perish the thought. Why, that would be warping the minds of youngsters.

How would that carol fit in today's hectic lifestyle? It probably would go unnoticed. Unless, of course, some rapper reintoned the verses with a hip-hop beat.

After all, what husband and wife would dare kiss in front of their children? The modern liberated couple would take no chance of putting their offspring in early libido stress by allowing them to witness a sharing of love and commitment.

It might stretch the developing imaginations to think that parents really care for one another. That kissing stuff is old hat, anyway. Now we have premarital character investigations, prenuptial agreements, wedding contracts rather than promises, and no-fault divorce.

What does that teach a youngster about how the adults of today really care for each other? What kind of example is it to know that background checks made Mommy sure Daddy wasn't some kind of "kiss and run" gigolo? Or that his sleuthing convinced him she could be trusted?

Boyd's song was about discovery; about a child learning the concept of love being part of a successful family; about the idea every family has a Santa Claus figure - a father, brother, uncle or just a good friend who helps behind the scenes to make the holiday a merry one for all.

There was no sex-promoting ulterior motive intended in the tune, no subplots for the sin-wary media to pounce upon. Those were invented by the anti-family, anti-love, anti-Santa and truly anti-Christian bigots.

You can call him Santa, St. Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Claus or any of the other names he has been given, but you have to realize the character in the song was the spirit of giving personified, the picture of unabashed love between parents who had created a scene for the season in their home, the real lesson of what Christmas is all about: Learning to give - and to receive - in a spirit of love that transcends all notions of ulterior motive.

Christmas celebrates a father's gift of his child to the family of believers. It is a story filled with the beauty of love, the honesty of trust, the unrestricted offer of eternal life.

It is celebrated with faith, belief in a higher power and with gifts to others who are part of our care circle.

Would that all families might show more love and care for each other.

Wouldn't it be great to never read of a child abusing his or her parent(s)? Or, vice-versa? Wouldn't it be marvelous news to read that love, not greed, brought a child home for the holidays? What if innocence remained unsullied by gang shootings, rapes, robberies and simmering distrust even among friends?

That would be the kind of world our giving Father created. One where a child could witness a kiss and believe it to be a sign of love and not a prelude to pagan rites, not an omen of evil lurking in the stairway.

It is Humbug Day. Get it out of your system now.

It is also just four days to Christmas. Let's let them overflow with the real spirit of the season, the sharing of our love and the wondrous gift we have received.

And, if your Santa kisses you under the mistletoe, take a peak to see if anyone has sneaked down the stair to see what Santa brought. Then scoop up that child, or children, and kiss them, too.

That's a real Christmas. The gaily wrapped gifts, glittering lights, candy, cookies and tinsel are just decorations for the celebration. Show a child he or she is loved and they'll remember that more than any package under the tree.

 

Old Timers
By John Motter

In 1900, local affairs were concerns

By John M. Motter

It was August of 1900, the first year of the 20th century. Pagosa Country was agog. Some 24 years after the first rough log cabins marked the site that would become Pagosa Springs, the settlement was finally getting a railroad.

The coming railroad was no longer just rumors and idle talk. Laborers hired by A.T. Sullenberger of the Pagosa Lumber Company pounded spikes on track connecting Pagosa Junction and Pagosa Springs. Work on the Rio Grande, Pagosa & Northern Railroad had started the previous year. By August of 1900, the new rails snaked into the vicinity of Dyke, 8 or 10 miles west of town.

The nation was in the mood for a change. A presidential race was underway. Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan and his running mate Adlai Stevenson advertised the Democrat Party platform in The Pagosa Springs News. His opponent was William McKinley, who eventually won a second term in the White House as a Republican. A popular spokesman for the Republicans was Theodore Roosevelt, the 'Rough- rider.' Obviously no fan of Republican politics, News editor Daniel Egger wrote, "A combination of roughrider yells and bad whiskey makes a whole lot of noise, but few votes." Egger had become a Populist.

Pagosa folks were more concerned with local affairs. Harvest was in full progress, but prospects were not good. The winter of 1899-1900 had been dry. Egger reported, "Nearly all of the grain is burned with the drouth in the Piedra valley that it will not even make hay," and "Several forest fires are burning in the western part of the county."

Nevertheless, there were crops to harvest as evidenced by, "Ranchers are now cutting wheat in this section," and "A.G. Boone of Coyote Park is cutting Frank Blake's crop of wheat."

During those year, lots of grain was grown in Pagosa Country to feed the horses and oxen working on the railroad and in logging camps. Most cattlemen kept mother cows through the winter, so hay was needed for that purpose as well.

Fall was also the time to harvest wild berries as Egger noted. '"P. A. Deller and family are on East Fork this week hunting berries and catching trout," and "A jolly party left for East Fork Saturday to pick berries, fish, etc. Among the party were Mr. and Mrs. Harry Macht, Mr. and Mrs. Will Macht, Miss Ford, Miss Belle Flaugh, Mr. Hutchings and Mr. Jule Macht. The party will go from East Fork to the head of the West Fork to take in the beautiful scenery of that section. They will return Saturday."

B.F. Minium's berry-picking expedition proved truly momentous. " B.F. Minium had quite a nice experience with a bear last Monday afternoon," Egger reported. " While out picking berries on the Little Blanco he came across a she bear with a couple of cubs. Bruin naturally thought she had a game. Mr. Minium didn't care for a mix-up, so he dropped his berries and went up a tree. The bear stood guard at that tree for over an hour, and Mr. Minium was worried for fear the bear would eat his berries. If she hadn't left just when she did Ben was going to climb down that tree, cut a stick, and give the pesky bear a good beating."

Adding to the local bear lore, Egger opined, "Bear stories are becoming quite numerous in this section. Jap Walker had an encounter with one Monday, which he wounded but unfortunately got away," and "Maurice Adams also has the proud distinction of having seen, while on East Fork last Saturday, bear 'tracks.' Maurice claims they were fresh ones, too."

As to the railroad, "The Rio Grande Pagosa & Northern railroad has the steel laid to within 4 miles of town. It will be time to celebrate for a railroad means a great deal to this place. More than one-half the passengers coming to Pagosa now come via Pagosa Junction and most of the freight and express come by that route. Pagosa will soon be in the swim."

Four miles west would put the tracks near today's Hersch Drive on Hatcher property. You can still see portions of the railroad in that area.

Railroad work could be dangerous. "Dan O'Neal, the foreman on the railroad grade that was hurt by blasting last week, is much improved. His eyes are getting along nicely and he will no doubt be able to get out in a few days."

"A jolly -there is that word again, I guess Pagosa folks were happy - crowd of ladies and gentlemen took a ride in the bus Monday to see how the railroad was progressing. They report a good time."

Chas. A. Stotts was holding a going out of business sale at his store next to Winter & Fisher's drug store. A sample of the extraordinary prices includes: "children's black button shoes worth $1.50 to $1.75, now $1.00; old ladies shoes, 3s only, worth $3, only $1.50; and boots and shoes made to order. Hair pins, Japanese fans, and side pins were only a nickel; garters in colors 20 cents; and white quills 10 cents."

And in town park, "The interest in the meetings in the big tent in the park is on the increase. Souls are being converted and are finding their savior.

"The subject Friday night is 'The unchangeable nature of God.' Saturday morning sabbath school at 10 o'clock, preaching at 11. Subject Saturday night 'Christian baptism,' Sunday night subject, 'All moral men will be saved.' "

At the turn of the century, Pagosa folks enjoyed a good time, especially dancing. "A very pleasant affair occurred at the Crescent Restaurant last Saturday night. The proprietors got up a nice dance on the hurry-up order. Ad Lewis and Mike Bostwick were perched upon a table and composed the orchestra. They could easily pass for P.T. Barnum's $10,000 beauties. Mrs. Byrne was Mr. Miller's chaperon, for Willie was so reckless in his dancing. Lee Patrick and Fil were down for a 'buck and wing' turn, but the Roger boys wouldn't allow it - saying it looked to much like Frank Everitt going to Sunday school. The ladies looked as sweet and good as fryed chicken would to a hungry man, not even excepting Dave Hersch. It was undoubtedly the most enjoyable affair of the kind that has happened in Pagosa this summer."

And as always, there was tragedy. "Tom Harn was accidentally shot by J.S. Brown last Wednesday night about 11, at Willett Brown's ranch, 20 miles east of town.

"Albert Hendrickson came galloping into town Thursday morning at 1 a.m. and informed sheriff Tom Reavis that he wanted a team to take the doctors to Willett's ranch; that 'Sig' had accidentally shot Tom with a Winchester, taking Tom for a bear. Drs. Winter and Clock were taken back with Albert and they found Mr. Harn in a very weak condition with the loss of blood.

"About 4 p.m. yesterday they brought Mr. Harn to town, and the particulars are about as follows: Albert Hendrickson and Tom Harn were sleeping in a tent. Shortly after retiring they heard a commotion among the chickens. Tom heard the racket and went out to investigate. Mr. Brown also appeared on the scene with a shotgun and fired at an object in the dark about thirty feet distant, thinking it was a bear prowling around after his chickens.

"The shot entered Mr. Harn's right side near hip and took a downward course shattering a bone. The doctors claim it is a very ugly and painful wound, but his recovery is assured unless blood poisoning sets in. The latest report is that he is resting easy at Mrs. Latham's residence."

Births

Angelica Vasquez

Jose Luis Vasquez III and Heidi Marie Davis Tuesday announced the birth of their daughter, Angelica Ruby-May Vazquez.

Angelica was born at 9:21 a.m. on Dec. 10, 2000. She weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and was 19 1/2-inches long. She was welcomed home by her big brothers Jose, 3, and Isiah, 2.

Her grandmother is Nina Lichtblau of Pagosa Springs.

 

NataLee Joy

Tina and Larry Prieskorn of Pagosa Springs are proud to announce the arrival of their happy, healthy daughter, NataLee Joy.

NataLee was born at 12:43 a.m., Dec. 2, 2000, at Mercy Medical Center of Durango. She weighed 5 pounds, 15.6 ounces and was 17-inches long.

NataLee's maternal grandparents are Mike and Roberta Schroeder of Pagosa Springs. Her paternal grandparents are Debbie Preimesberger and Larry Prieskorn Sr. both of Michigan.

NataLee is preceded in death by her sister Cassidianne Mae.

 

Weather Stats

Date

High

Low

Precipitation

Type

Depth

Moisture

12/13

30

18

S

.5

.02

12/14

32

16

-

-

-

12/15

29

8

S

3.0

.18

12/16

31

5

-

-

-

12/17

38

-6

-

-

-

12/18

34

-2

-

-

-

12/19

37

4

-

-

-