Front Page

December 20, 2001

Public demands changes by PAWSD

By John M. Motter

Directors of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District, faced by a crowd estimated at 150 to 170 people, backed water on plans to implement a capital investment fee.

As a result of the Tuesday meeting, PAWS will postpone implementation of a capital investment fee until more study is completed. Final action may be delayed until February.

"I am glad there was such a good turnout," said Carrie Campbell, general manager of PAWS. "The people showed interest, voiced their opinions, and got information. There will be further opportunity for public input, probably during February."

The meeting conducted at the Vista Clubhouse Tuesday night opened with a PAWS staff explanation of the capital investment fee and PAWS' reasons for adopting the fee. The audience learned that PAWS directors have adopted the fee as a concept, but have not locked in a rate structure. Revenues from the fee, which replaces the facilities upgrade fee, are anticipated for the 2002 budget. Consequently, the fee was expected to take effect Jan. 1 next year.

The public comment portion of Tuesday's meeting lasted from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Following explanation of the capital investment fee, input was accepted from as many members of the public as wished to speak.

Paws' attorney James Collins of Collins, Cockerel and Cole in Denver took notes during the public comments. When public comments ended, Collins made certain recommendations to the PAWS board based on his notes. The board adopted all of Collins' recommendations save one.

As a result, enactment of the capital investment fee will be postponed while PAWS gathers more data. To help gather and evaluate data and to recommend possible solutions to PAWS directors, a committee representing the public will be appointed.

"My understanding is that Mike Mitchell, representing the San Juan Builders Association, will present a list of names for committee membership," said Carrie Campbell, general manager of PAWS. "The board will appoint a committee based on the recommendations and with the intent of obtaining a membership representing a cross section of the entire community. It's logical that at least one board member and myself serve on the committee. I am going to recommend that a community leader of standing, maybe mayor Ross Aragon, be appointed."

Objectors to the capital investment fee say the impact of the fee will seriously damage the local economy by stalling real estate sales and the construction industry.

When PAWS emphasized that part of the philosophy underlying adoption of the capital investment fee is that "growth should pay for growth," objectors argued that some of the cost of growth should be spread across the entire population of the county, or a least the population within PAWS district boundaries. User fee increases-monthly water and sewer bills-were pointed out as one method of spreading the costs.

Because the capital investment fee is to be levied on all new building, including building within established subdivisions, objectors say that residents within established subdivisions should pay some part of new growth costs.

Some objectors argued that inadequate PAWS fees during the early days of development caused the district to fall behind concerning capital improvements. They argue it is unfair to levy heavy fees today on new growth in order to play catchup.

Objectors also argued that demographic projections used to calculate future capital needs are not provably accurate.

Finally, objectors argued that basing capital improvement fees on the square footage of a building doesn't make sense. The fee should be based on the amount of water consumed, they argued.

The six recommendations submitted by Collins are:

€ Reopen this public hearing in January or February, 2002

€ The board should consider the suggestions and comments here tonight

€ Direct staff to respond to the organizations represented at the meeting with data that the district has accumulated on the capital needs to serve new construction

€ Consider a committee formation representing diverse interests and concerns in the community, to consider all of the data and work on alternative funding methods. This committee could also suggest various definitions of terms, such as square footage, and applicable rules, such as connection dates and growth statistics accepted

€ Immediately rescind the capital investment fee resolution and reinstate the current fee structure to include the facilities upgrade fee

€ Capital investment rates versus additional service charges should be reconsidered. Graduated increases in fee structure should also be addressed.

Bob Frye, vice chair of the PAWS board of directors, chaired the meeting. Frye explained that PAWS today is the result of blending three districts with their respective rules and rate structures: the original PAWS, the Pagosa Springs water system, and the Archuleta Water Company.

A current PAWS goal, Frye said, is to unify and simplify the district's fee structure while raising enough money to meet future capital needs as identified in a 20-year growth plan.

Part of the district financial assessment currently underway is to direct charges in the direction of the cause. For example, user fees pay for operating costs. Property tax income generally pays for large capital improvement projects in the proportion those projects are related to existing populations. Capital investment fees generally pay for capital construction needs created by new growth.

PAWS is still dealing with the numbers needed to determine a fair capital improvement charge. For example, the $3.08 per square foot fee including water and sewer contemplated last week has already fallen to $2.16 as PAWS consultants refine data gathering and analysis methods.

 

Hospital district closes deal for new manager

By Tess Noel Baker

The Upper San Juan Hospital District is ringing in the New Year with a district manager on board.

The board voted Tuesday at their regular monthly meeting to hire Dione "Dee" Jackson to fill the position currently held by Interim Manager Dick Babillis. Jackson, who has been the administrative director of Texas Tech University Students Health Services for the past four years, will start Feb. 4 with an annual salary of $57,500.

"I'd like first of all to say that both finalists were fully qualified for the position," Babillis said, following the board's decision. "What set her apart for me was when she met with the public she had the ability to establish instant rapport with the people in the room." That same ability seemed to extend to her meetings with staff. Babillis has served as the volunteer interim district manager since May, filling in for the vacancy left when Bill Bright resigned.

Patty Tillerson, one of two board members on the screening committee, said Jackson's professionalism and enthusiasm made her stand out as a candidate.

"I like her attention to detail and the fact that she wanted to be involved in every aspect of the service," Tillerson said. "She was just on her toes about everything."

Bob Huff and Ken Morrison, the other two board members in attendance Tuesday, agreed that her intelligence stood out as well as her experience.

"I think she's a quick study," Huff said. "I think she has handled a large staff. Every indication we've had is that she's very good dealing with a large group of diverse employees and keeping them focused."

"In addition to all that," Morrison said, "She has a recent MBA, she was organized and came prepared. She did her homework. She impressed me as a well-rounded individual who will be an asset to all of Pagosa Springs."

Jackson's resume shows a deep pool of experience on which to draw.

As administrative director of the student health center, Jackson was responsible for leading seven teams, including lab, x-ray, pharmacy, nursing, clinical services and information systems, serving a campus of 25,000 students. In that role, she was responsible for a $3 million budget, marketing and customer service, hiring, training and recruiting staff. Prior to being named administrative director, Jackson served as associate director of the same organization for seven years.

In addition, she is an accreditation surveyor for ambulatory care and surgery centers giving her experience with compliance issues that are so vital to health care organizations.

Her background also reaches into accounting and auditing, small business management and corporate management. According to her resume, as the store manager for Pronto Supply, Jackson was able to increase sales by $500,000 in less than a year, by developing the business from "truck delivery sales" to a full retail store.

She and her husband already own a home in the community.

In other business, the board revoked an earlier stipulation on Babillis' powers as district manager, restoring his ability to hire and fire personnel.

Babillis said he didn't foresee having to fire anyone, but contract negotiations with the family nurse practitioner coming on board in January and renegotiations with some of the doctors needed to move ahead.

Calling the board together to make final decisions proved to be difficult, at least in the case of the district manager. Babillis said he wasn't sure whether or not he would have a quorum to make the decision to hire Jackson until three hours before the meeting.

Although the board agreed that a public meeting was needed to hire a district manager, they approved a motion giving Babillis the ability to hire and fire all other positions.

That power was withheld when Babillis was appointed back in May because of staff concerns with having an untried, quickly-appointed head of staff in an uncertain time for a district still recovering from financial problems. Tuesday, the item was discussed under the agenda item IV.C. - new business, other. Staff normally present at board meetings who voiced concern back in May were not on-hand because of the uncertainty of having a quorum earlier in the day.

Both Huff and Morrison said over the last several months Babillis has proven his abilities and earned the trust of the board.

County courthouse is a land of contradictions

€Contrast: Who said what? Who knew what? Who knows

By John M. Motter

The Archuleta County courthouse is a land of contrasts and contradictions, a kingdom where yes is no and no is yes, or something is nothing or nothing is something or he said she said orŠ Consider, for example, the doings which surfaced at Tuesday's regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.

Karen Aspin spoke during the public comments portion of the agenda. Aspin is a citizen much involved with county planning matters over the past few years, including committee meetings leading to the adoption last year of a community plan approved by the Upper San Juan Regional Planning Commission and endorsed by the BOCC.

Aspin recently submitted to the county through the planning office a proposal for a regulation development workshop. The purpose of the proposed workshop is to gather community input leading to the adoption of regulations enforcing the community plan. More specifically, Aspin suggests the workshop be used to draft legislation related to signage, lighting, and landscaping.

Additionally, Aspin suggests her proposed format might be used to address development of county legislation concerning dog controls, junk and trash nuisances, right-to-farm issues, and noise issues. Aspin indicated she has heard much talk and seen little action by the county concerning implementation of the community plan.

According to Aspin, she presented a draft of her proposal to Greg Comstock, Director of County Development. She said the proposal had been developed over a period of time while working in conjunction with Comstock and Lynn Constan, Chairman of the USJRPC.

Aspin said Comstock said he didn't see any reason why the commissioners would oppose it. At a later time, she said, Comstock told her he had shown it to Gene Crabtree, chairman of the BOCC, and Crabtree said no, there would be no such workshop. She said Comstock said Crabtree said Commissioner Alden Ecker was also opposed.

At Tuesday's meeting, Crabtree told Aspin he did not tell Comstock no. Crabtree said he found a copy of the document on his desk and went to Comstock to find out what it was all about. He said he told Comstock this (the document) is the kind of thing the planning department should be doing, not a group of citizens.

"I told him this is why we hired you," Crabtree said.

Ecker denied saying no. He said that he found the document on his desk, but had done nothing about it.

"I didn't know what it was all about," Ecker said.

"It's incorrect to say no one knew," said Bill Downey, the third commissioner. "I read a note from Greg and talked to him. He (Comstock) said Karen brought the document in. He said he was interested in pursuing it. He said he was told to shelve it."

Downey is the BOCC liaison with the county planning department.

"I think the concept is a good idea," Downey said.

"Where I'm coming from, I told him (Comstock) leadership would have to come from his office," Crabtree said. "There has been no dialogue with the four (three commissioners plus ?) of us."

"From my perspective, if I bring an idea to the department and they bring it forward, that is leadership," Aspin said.

"The idea has merit, but I need to know more before I say no or yes. I didn't say," Ecker said.

"You could have spoke to us," Crabtree said. "I could have talked with Greg."

"I thought it worked the other way," Aspin said. "We've been looking. Things are not going anywhere."

"It may not be as fast as you like," Crabtree said. "We've had other priorities, the budget, Lightplant Road, other things."

"Now is a good time. Things are a little slower for ranchers. It's time to go from ideas to application," Aspin said.

"I think we have the same goals," Crabtree said. "We need time to evaluate with staff, let things calm down."

"We have to look at the whole. Regulations need enforcement," said Ecker.

"We'll look at this in January," Crabtree said. "The Number One thing is to not lose focus. It's easy to dictate particulars, but we need common sense. Somebody has to make the decisions."

Meanwhile, Comstock was not at the commissioners' meeting containing the statements attributed to him. What does he have to say? Comstock was called at about 4:15 Tuesday.

"I don't know what was said this morning," Comstock said. "I don't want to comment until I have a chance to talk to the people who were at the meeting and find out what they said."

When asked if he had been instructed by any commissioners to not talk to the media, Comstock said no.

Editorials

Spirit of season

We are at the confluence of three major spiritual celebrations, overlapping and abutting each other this holiday season. Ramadan has passed, there is Chanukah, and now the Christmas season is upon us. This holiday is different than most, though, given the events of the past three months: terrible violence has taken center stage, our nation has been attacked on our own soil, our way of life has been threatened in no uncertain terms, innocents have lost their lives, we are at war.

Our attention this season, more than ever before, should be turned to things spiritual; this is not a year when our ordinarily rampant consumerism is appropriate. This is not the year to be obsessed with finding the right gift, or throwing the best party. Our thoughts should be centered on those people and things we cherish, the relationships and activities that give our personal and collective life meaning and hope. If there was ever a time we needed this season to return to what it was originally intended to be, this is it.

This is a time that gives us the opportunity to connect with family members and friends, to enjoy them simply because they are who they are, to express our dedication and our clear sense of the intimate and vital connections we share. It is a time when we can ponder the meaning of community and nation, to understand they are the ground out of which we grow, the soil which nourishes our wondrous diversity, that provides the freedoms we too often take for granted.

We need to take time to consider what is important to us, to recognize what about our lives transcends the mundane, to identify who and what we love, and to reckon with the manner in which we express ourselves in the world.

We need to send our thoughts and prayers where they are needed.

For example, to our fellow citizens in uniform serving around the world, to the hundreds of thousands of Americans responding to meet our national crisis, working to ensure their fellow Americans can continue their holiday traditions.

That same concern and warmth should reflect on those close to us as well.

There is no doubt this will happen; there are few communities more responsive and generous than Pagosa and, as is the custom, members of our community who need assistance during this holiday will receive what they need. One of the efforts that will see to it is Operation Helping Hand. It exemplifies all the charitable work done in Pagosa Country.

Since 1989 this community has been blessed by this heartwarming outpouring of affection and concern for its less fortunate members. The reasons why someone might be in distress are unimportant: loss of employment, illness, divorce, disaster - it doesn't matter. There are helping hands that reach out and meet the needs.

Operation Helping Hand was started to provide basic necessities during the holidays to 22 local families. Since that time this effort, a clearing house for the work done by numerous local organizations and individuals, has grown to where it fills the Extension Building with gifts and food and clothing to be donated to those in need. This is charitable activity at its finest - anonymous, graced with the best of intentions.

Starting tomorrow, gifts and food will be dispersed to more than 159 families, 200 adults, 200 children and at least 45 senior citizens. The material that will benefit these people came from local churches, from civic organizations and charitable programs like Project Empty Stocking, Adopt a Bear, Bucks for Bikes, the Snowflake program, Something Old Something New, Toy Outreach and the Christmas Food Box. Individuals donate time and energy to the work, joining Helping Hand board members, local homeschoolers, Social Services, and local grocery stores to see that the effort is a success. The work exemplifies the spirit of this season.

We are blessed to live where we live, with whom we live.

Karl Isberg

 Dear Folks

By David C. Mitchell

A season for taking note of names

Dear Folks,

Names are attracting special attention this Christmas season.

With the ongoing war in Afghanistan, the names of unfamiliar locales such as Jalalabad, Kunduz, Kabul, Kandahar, Tora Bora and others are sharing the limelight with the better known "little town" of Bethlehem.

Names of individuals engaged in the assaults against the Taliban are likewise meriting special mention.

Folks who read Saturday's Rocky Mountain News probably noticed the name Robinson Cortez atop a page 9A article that was datelined "CAMP RHINO, Afghanistan." A 1999 graduate of Pagosa Springs High School, Robinson is serving with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit as it helps secure control of Kandahar's airport. The three-column, two-line kicker running above the article quoted Lance Cpl. Cortez' statement: "We want to do something to be part of the history that's being made. Humanitarian or combat, they're both just as important." No longer an attentive pupil studying world history at Pagosa Springs High School, Robinson currently is an active participant in shaping world history.

Names of Afghanis fighting for the opposition forces also are drawing attention. News accounts such as a recent Associated Press report datelined TORA BORA, Afghanistan, reported that "Ghafar, a leader in the tribal eastern alliance, said the al-Qaida fighters are believed to . . . 'They have to hand them over, but they didn't (want to),' said Ghafar, who goes by one name. . . ." The fact that most Afghani citizens use only one name has been consistently noted in reports on the opposition forces.

Long before the advent of September 11 and America's resulting military engagements in Afghanistan, most folks already were familiar with the Middle Eastern custom of identifying individuals by only a single name. For many centuries, folks worldwide have read about individuals who were identified by one name - Gabriel, Elizabeth, Zacharias, John, Mary, Joseph, Herod, Jesus.

To some folks, knowing Jesus on a personal "first-name basis" is the true significance of Christmas. To others, Jesus is only a historical name. Or to some, the name Jesus is merely the major spontaneous utterance included in their profanity vocabulary. To the linguist, the name Jesus comes from the Hebrew word for saviour.

Though Jesus is known by some as simply being a carpenter from the town of Nazareth, following Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection, it was prophesied that in the eventual course of history ". . . that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Later, it was also said of Jesus that "there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."

The Bible reportedly is one of the most purchased books, while at the same time being one of the least read books in America. In a similar irony, Jesus - "the gift of God" - is the greatest gift ever offered to mankind but is the most rejected. That in itself is nothing new. Following the completion of his ministry on earth, it was written of Jesus that ". . . He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to then He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. . . ."

Yes, once again as folks pursue peace on earth and goodwill towards man, the name Jesus is attracting attention.

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

David

Legacies
By Shari Pierce

91 years ago

Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era of December 16, 1910

The sawmills of Archuleta County have a total capacity of about 225,000 feet of lumber per day. Figuring that they ran to their full capacity 200 days in 1910 they output a total of 45,000,000 feet during the year. Estimating again that the output brought an average of $20 per thousand at the mills, a total of $900,000 came into the county during 1910 from the lumber industry.

It is expected that the mortgage on the Baptist church will be cleared up by the first of the year. It has been a long hard pull and the members are to be congratulated.

Life is surely worth living in Colorado, where the pleasant winters, the uninterrupted sunshine, the beautiful summers, the fertile soils invite and retain those who journey hither.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 24, 1926

The Newton & Hersch Company is the title of a new incorporation with its seat of business at Pagosa Springs. Whitney Newton, David Hersch and J.B. Hersch, all of Pagosa Springs, are the incorporators; the capitalization is $50,000; and the company will handle real estate and investments. One of the first transactions of the new company took place this week with the purchase of the entire real estate holdings in Archuleta County belonging to Citizens Bank of Pagosa Springs, excepting the bank house.

There was considerable joy in Pagosa Springs Tuesday morning with the announcement by Receiver Jay Catchpole that the first dividend checks of the defunct First National Bank of Pagosa Springs had been received here.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 21, 1951

A good old fashioned winter seems to be in prospect for this area with the storms of last week leaving more than a foot of new snow. While most of the roads have been kept open, they are all hazardous and chains have been needed most of the time.

The first presentation in Pagosa Springs of Handel's oratorio, "The Messiah" was given Sunday evening in the Methodist Church auditorium before a large audience.

The Christmas lighting contest this year brought a very nice response and if ever a little town was all lighted up for Christmas this is it. The downtown section around the town hall and courthouse is very well lighted and shows up wonderfully well. The many outstanding decorations around town are worthy of much praise.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 16, 1976

Dry weather continues to prevail in this area. The snowfall and precipitation is way below normal and to date this December there has been no measurable precipitation in town. This, coupled with a very dry October and November, leaves the county very deficient in moisture.

Traveling motorists have commented often about the lighted star and cross in the Pagosa Springs community, as well as the lighted Christmas tree at the town hall. The star and cross are sponsored by the Beta Sigma Phi and maintained through contributions from local businessmen and residents.

There are just seven more shopping days until Christmas. That doesn't worry us late shoppers. We don't have any trouble making up our minds. We just take what is left.

Inside The Sun

PLPOA president urges Master Plan

By Richard Walter

Richard Manley, president of the board of directors of Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association, reacted last week to a charge given him by the board to develop a plan for the future for the association.

"It is well know by all of us that the property owners board has been operating for some time in a reactive mode," he said. "It is now the apparent wish of this board to rectify that situation and outline how this board and future boards can have common, clearly articulated goals and objectives."

In a letter to the board, he said, "This should be done in accordance with a Master Plan that looks at the long range objectives and include some more refined objectives for the near future. A well thought out plan will define the role of the board as well as the 'work to be accomplished' upon which the property owners may measure the effectiveness of this governing body.

"I don't believe we can take much more than preliminary steps without outside assistance. The first step in the workplace would be to adopt a 'Vision Statement.' To create and eventually adopt such a statement would require a community planner, as we each carry our own 'baggage' into the process.

"Therefore, Step 1 in the plan would be a board work session or retreat to decide on the amount of involvement of a planning consultant, what are we willing to pay for that assistance and what are the needed credentials of that person if we decide they are needed. Once that determination is made then a search committee should be formed.

"Assuming the successful completion of Step 1, then Step 2 would be the process for creating a Vision Statement. Methods of board involvement, property owner involvement, and other forms of input would be needed to form a properly worded statement.

"Step 3 then would be determined by the depth (or breadth) of involvement of the consultant (usually determined by contract and process discussed prior to signing any agreement). Usually they write the plan so that the proper wording is used and the order in which the results are offered is also important. The final Plan, based on the Vision, would be a workable document to guide our steps for many years.

"There is no cut and dried right way or wrong way to do this. Obviously, the county went through this process recently and then questioned the results. That's their right; however, we each need to be invested in the process and comfortable with the consultant so that when the process is over we feel we (and all property owners) received due consideration for our thoughts and ideas."

Manley's "Plan for a Plan" required no action but he asked board members to read it and suggest ways in which the goals outlined might be achieved.

In other action the board:

€ Tabled, pending clarification, a move to have members sign the resolution designating the area for state map and local identity purposes as Pagosa Lakes, Archuleta County, Colorado. The move was approved at the annual meeting last July and has been under legal review. The tabling came after general manager Walt Lukasik said resident Dallas Johnson had presented him a copy of an old resolution accomplishing that action. There was no copy of that resolution in management files, Lukasik told the board, recommending the delay for clarification

€ Received "with regret" the resignation from ECC of Craig Givens who is moving from the area. "He has done an excellent job," said Manley, adding, "I wish more members would volunteer as he has." At the same time, the board unanimously voted to move Ray Finney from auxiliary to full membership status on the committee

€ Acknowledged Archuleta County's revised standing on the trails project for Village Drive and Park Avenue, a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) funded project with the county as the actuarial agent. The county agreed last week to a $4,000 cash donation to the project in lieu of the original $5,000 in in-kind engineering services. The $5,000 total will still be reached because $1,000 of it had been achieved before the county lost its engineer. The overall project also will involve partial funding by the Town of Pagosa Springs.

Class action suit filed against Fairfield USA fee
By Richard Walter

A class action suit was filed Monday seeking relief from Fairfield USA (FUSA) use fees levied against owners of residential lots, townhouses and condominiums in the Pagosa development which were sold by Fairfield after March 1, 1983.

Specifically, the suit filed by attorneys Gerald L. Bader Jr. and Renee B. Taylor of Bader & Associates and by Gerald Sawatzky of Pagosa Springs, seeks refunds of fees annually assessed by Fairfield Communities Inc. "and paid by the plaintiffs in order to maintain their properties free and clear of the cloud on their titles caused by defendant's illegal exaction of these fees."

Plaintiffs in the action filed in District Court, Archuleta County, are Lorie and Stan Church, trustees of the Church Family Trust; Bryant and Peggy Lemon, trustees of the Bryant William Lemon Sr. and Peggy Schwartz Lemon Revocable Trust; and Richard C. Pflueger, individually and as representatives of all falling within the class of owners specified.

The plaintiffs say they own residential lots in the Pagosa Development sold to them or their predecessors by Fairfield Communities Inc. or by a subsidiary known as Fairfield-Eaton, Inc., and later as Fairfield Pagosa, Inc.

Fairfield Communities Inc. is the successor to the earlier Fairfield operations, the suit says, adding that when Fairfield purchased Eaton's lots in 1983 it imposed a recreation fee on all lots remaining unsold in order to cover expenses of operating and maintaining recreational amenities still owned by Fairfield, including a golf course and five lakes.

At the time, the suit says, 80-percent of the lots had been sold with a long-standing neighborhood plan with the developer absorbing all operating costs for amenities until transferred to the homeowners' association.

The new owners, the suit says, attempted to materially alter the long-standing plan by initiating the fee applicable to only 20-percent of the lots, making the fee "severely discriminatory."

Plaintiffs say Fairfield "intentionally imposed the fee even though it knew the fee was likely illegal and invalid because it altered the longstanding neighborhood scheme and also discriminated against a small fraction of those benefited by the amenities."

Fairfield imposed a supplemental declaration of restrictions (SDR), the suit says, which became a part of every sales contract by which the remaining Fairfield lots were sold. "However," the suit says, "the SDR did not list the unsold lots to which it was to apply, so that purchasers and title companies had no good way of knowing which lots in Pagosa Development were covered by the fee."

When, after Aug. 2, 1983, Fairfield began selling the remaining lots and assessing the fee against purchaser/owners, the suit says, "the association and its general counsel, Sam Cassidy, advised members the Fairfield fee was illegal and invalid and should not be paid. As a result, approximately half of the owners refused to pay the fee . . ."

The suit alleges Fairfield took no legal action to collect unpaid fees but sent threatening letters as well as "bills seeking an illegal rate of interest (14 percent compounded monthly) on unpaid fees, intimidating many owners into paying the fee to avoid a cloud on title and avoid receiving huge monthly bills for fees and interest."

The complainants say Fairfield further clouded the issue by waiving the fee in order to sell some lots and as a result "has collected the fee from only a portion of the original 20 percent of Pagosa Development lots, thus dramatically increasing the discriminatory impact on those paying the fee."

The suit says that discrimination "was further made more severe by Fairfield's transfer of more than 1,000 lots to Archuleta County in 1993 in payment of overdue real estate taxes, thus eliminating those lots from being subject to the fee."

When many purchasers later sold their lots to subsequent buyers, the suit alleges, Fairfield did not bill the purchasers for the fee, and cites specifically the Lemons' purchase of a lot in Pagosa Highlands in 1995 as representative of such inaction.

The Lemons allege they had no knowledge of the fee or notice by the seller until, in the year 2000, they received a bill from Fairfield seeking back fees and interest totaling several thousands of dollars.

Since the SDR requires Fairfield to collect fees only for its own operating expenses for amenities it owns, the suit says, and Fairfield has transferred or sold the golf course, all five lakes, the recreation center, clubhouses and other amenities, it does not operate amenities it owns, other than tennis courts, but continues to assess for uses of those amenities in direct violation of the SDR.

The suit represents "all class members having claims relating to the period Sept. 1, 1992 to present."

In addition to asking that the fee be declared illegal, the suit seeks interest, damages and attorney fees as well as refunds of amounts paid in the time period specified and a declatory judgment that the defendant "has breached covenants and failed to fulfill conditions and has waived and is estopped, to collect the recreation fee."

Sanitation supervisor urges stewardship of water resources
By Tess Noel Baker

It seems fairly simple.

Wash it down the drain, flush it down the toilet and the waste of people's daily lives disappears forever, right?

Wrong.

Waste washed down drains, toilets and showers - about 220,000 gallons a day in the Pagosa Springs sanitation district - vanishes quickly from homes, traveling through a series of pipes, some metal, some clay, a few even wooden. Lift stations and gravity pull this water from the area east of Put Hill down into a series of lagoons on South 5th Street.

Biological material is removed using natural processes and then put back into circulation 30 days later through a channel familiar to everyone - the San Juan River.

"The only thing I add is air," Phil Starks, sanitation supervisor, said. By increasing or decreasing the amount of oxygen pumping into the three cells in the system, Starks controls the naturally feeding bacteria in the waste, using these "bugs" to break down biological material and clean the water.

It's a system that works, but only with a public that understands that to flush is simply not enough.

"We normally have a 93 to 94 percent removal rate which is good for a lagoon," he said. Still, excess water in the system and illegal dumping cause short-term increases in cost and long-term impacts on the longevity of the system.

"The major problem we have from the public right now is excess water getting into the system," Starks said. Leaky faucets, constantly running toilets, and broken septic systems, plus older pipes which allow for the infiltration of groundwater in some spots, are adding unnecessary water.

The excess water problem dilutes the lagoons, Starks said, making for more water to treat at a lower concentration. That, in turn, ups the amount of time the blowers have to be used, and the cost of power to the town, and its residents.

"Simple conservation saves money," he said. "Conserving daily water usage saves the public money, and in the long term it could extend the plant life 5 to 10 years."

All that water also decreases the number of taps the system is able to handle - its overall capacity - shortening the long-term usefulness of the lagoons as the town grows. Starks said revamping the lagoon system to increase capacity would probably require moving to a mechanical system at a cost of millions.

Then there is the continuing issue of illegal dumping of detergents, trash, gasoline and oil-based paint products into a system which doesn't have the capability of breaking down such chemical agents.

"You might as well be dumping it straight in the San Juan," Starks said.

What some people don't understand, Starks said, is the simplicity of the lagoon system. Unlike a mechanical plant which allows the sewage to be treated with chemicals and other agents, the lagoons simply give nature time to do its own work.

It's basically a three step process with a 30-day detention time.

The wastewater first enters Cell 1, where it remains for 8-10 days under almost constant aeration. The addition of air here is what encourages the natural bacteria coming into the plant to feed, breaking down the biological material in the waste.

From there, the water moves into Cell 2 where it continues to be aerated, but at only 1/4 of the level of Cell 1. Wastewater spends between 12 and 14 days in Cell 2 before moving on to the final cell, or settling pond.

"Very little air is added there," Starks said. After about eight more days of final biological activity, the water heads for the river. As a final step, chlorine is added to destroy pathogens. The chlorine is then removed using sulfur dioxide just prior to the water being released into the river.

Age and condition of the pipes is another reason people should take care of the system. Starks said the town is working on upgrades, but cost makes it a slow process. The 2002 budget includes provisions for inserting a sleeving into clay pipes along Pagosa Street to help prevent leaching and deterioration of those pipes.

"It's going to be an ongoing battle to upgrade the system," Starks said. "We're constantly doing what we can afford all the time."

To assist the town, and save costs, he encouraged residents to fix leaky faucets quickly and consider some alternatives to more common, sometimes corrosive cleaners:

€ Ammonia-based cleaners: sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge. For windows, use a solution of two tablespoons white vinegar to one quart water. A spray bottle can be used

€ Disinfectants: mix 1/2 cup borax in a gallon of water. Deodorizes also

€ Drain decloggers: use a plunger or metal snake, or remove and clean the trap.

€ Scouring cleaners and powders: sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge or try adding four tablespoons baking soda to one quart warm water

€ Carpet/upholstery cleaners: Sprinkle dry cornstarch or baking soda on, then vacuum. For stains, blot with white vinegar in soapy water

€ Toilet cleaners: Sprinkle on baking soda, then scrub with toilet brush

€ Furniture/floor polishes: Clean with oil soap and warm water. Dry with a soft cloth. Polish with one part lemon juice to 2 parts oil (any kind), or use natural products with lemon oil or beeswax in mineral oil

€ Metal cleaners: For brass and copper, scrub with a used half of a lemon dipped in salt. Use a scouring pad and soapy water for stainless steel. For silver, rub gently with toothpaste and a soft, wet cloth

€ Oven cleaners: Quickly sprinkle salt on drips, then scrub. Use baking soda and scouring pads on older spills.

PLPOA and county discuss road projects
By Richard Walter

A resident of Vista Subdivision made an impassioned plea to the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association board of directors last week for dust control measures in his neighborhood, specifically the application of magnesium chloride.

Moments after his presentation, the three Archuleta County Commissioners appeared before the PLPOA directors with a similar proposal for 17-plus miles of unpaved roadways in the community.

Property owner David Yates told the board he had talked extensively with outgoing county highway department head Kevin Walters and had been assured several roads in Vista could be treated.

Specifically, he asked the board to consider the magnesium chloride treatment for Highland (a county maintained road) and for Fireside, Lake, Surrey, Brook and Paradise. The cost, with PLPOA paying for the spray and the county providing manpower and equipment, he said, would be a little over $3,000 for 5,500 lineal feet.

After his presentation, and after an agenda amendment to allow their appearance, the commissioners suggested a similar program for about 17.75 miles of Pagosa Lakes roadways at a basic cost of $40,000 to the association.

Commissioner Gene Crabtree, board chairman, prefacing his presentation by remarking, "It's nice to be here under real good terms for a change," he told the board, "We (commissioners) want to work together for the benefit of the whole county."

Referring to Yates' presentation, Crabtree assured the directors "we did not set him up as our front man, but it was nice to hear his concern. We're looking to help you and help us take care of a major problem, dust abatement.

"We'd like to do the whole 17 miles," he said. "We ask your help to supplement our (countywide) $130,000 magnesium chloride program for next year with a contribution of $40,000 for the roads here.

"We want to make life a little better for our residents," he said, "but we need help. We are asking other areas of the county to cooperate similarly. We have the manpower and the machinery (to do the job) but not the funds."

Commissioner Alden Ecker, the county board's current liaison for road and bridge maintenance and operations, said the county experimented last year with "one-third gallon of the chemical treatment per square yard and it did not work at that low combination rate . . . rain and the elements posed a deterioration problem . . . but road and bridge has mastered that problem now."

He said the current plan is to use one-half gallon per square yard, at a cost of 32 cents per gallon over the 17-plus miles of roadway under consideration. He and Crabtree both said there may be roads the association wants treated that are not on the county's "probable" list and that they need to know recommended routes as soon as possible.

Ecker also said the county is experimenting with another chemical substance which holds promise, is less of an environmental hazard, but costs about two-thirds more than the magnesium chloride process.

He noted the county takes care of 600 miles of roadway in the county, and plows over 700 miles, including the ones red-tagged in the Pagosa Lakes communities.

Ecker said only 3.5 mills of tax money goes to road maintenance and while Highway User Tax Funds and other revenue supplement the operating cash flow, the taxes are collected statewide and only 22 percent come back to counties, with 17 percent to towns.

"We'd like to see, as more and more subdivisions are developed," Ecker said, "citizens empowered to take care of their own roads through such things as metro districts which tax residents at whatever rate they approve to maintain their own roads.

"We feel the county has the lead responsibility," he said, "but there are limited funds. There are other roads in the county that every one of you here uses at one time or another."

Referring to the original Eaton International development which led to the multiple subdivisions making up the association, Ecker said, "Eaton did not make provision for the property owner association to care for the roads here. We'd like to see you form a metro district for that purpose. We will cooperate, but have gone as far as we can without assistance."

PLPOA director David Bohl said the county declared "a temporary moratorium on acceptance of roads which has seemed to become permanent. When are you prepared to accept them?"

Ecker said, "I'd personally like to see all roads in the county, save those in the Town of Pagosa Springs, maintained by the county, but it is not possible under current funding and law."

Gerry Smith, another PLPOA director, told the commissioners, "we appreciate the cooperative attitude. We've wanted to get the job done but if roads are not accepted you've taken away our soap box for presentation of a cohesive and comprehensive road plan."

PLPOA board president Richard Manley told the commissioners, "You were given a list of roadways proposed for maintenance by our standing road committee," and asked, "Where does that recommendation stand?"

Ecker said commissioners are meeting at 7 p.m. today (Dec. 20) to try to finalize the road classification system for the whole county, Pagosa Lakes included, "and we'd be happy to have everyone here attend."

Crabtree interjected, "You have to have lyrics and a melody in order to sing a song. We have the lyrics - personnel and equipment - you can provide the melody, the cash."

Ecker promised, "We'll work together for road classification . . . the whole county needs the system . . . and then we'll tell all the people what we can and can't do."

Manley said, "You are asking us for $40,000 to cover a specific mileage . . . can we assume that the people living on these roadways have complained to Walters about the situation?"

"I don't think residents of all have complained," said Ecker, "but area supervisors (road and bridge department) have told us that these particular roads need help."

"If we're going to put money into this," said Manley, "we need to know about the red-tagged streets. I think we need to have a recommendation by our road committee on the thoroughfares they feel need treatment most."

"It's your game," said Ecker. "We're not trying to tell you what to do . . . we're not locked onto these specific roads or this specific figure."

Bohl asked if the proposed chemical treatment for dust control and road stabilization would be in addition to what is already being done. Ecker assured him that was the case.

Smith said he worries that "If we do it in one portion of the association, those in other portions will wonder, 'Why not us?' If you do it for one, why not for all?"

"If we were to come up with the money," he asked Ecker, "would you have the manpower to do all the streets out here?"

"We'd get it done, whatever the mileage," Ecker said.

More specifically, Smith asked, "If we came up with the money for treatment of Cascade, could we keep the trucks off?"

"You'd have to depend on the sheriff for that," Ecker answered.

Commissioner Bill Downey, summing up the county position, said the previously mentioned moratorium was to stand until money was available to care for all roads. "We're still at that point," he said. "I concur with Mr. Ecker that a metro district is your long-term answer, but we can help now if you are willing to participate. Do what you want to do."

Manley concluded the discussion with a decision to ask the PLPOA Road Committee for a recommendation on if and how the board should proceed, how such a project can be equitably done, and to make such a decision as swiftly as possible.

He asked the committee to have a recommendation ready by the end of January so it can be acted on prior to the county's February budgeting session.

 

PAWS ends growth moratorium
By John M. Motter

By Tess Noel Baker

All around Pagosa Springs, children are checking those Christmas lists twice, making certain that the very thing they want is in black and white. Beyond the newest toys, hippist music and most-technical of electronic inventions, some of those lists might include a wish for a pet, a puppy to be exact.

Those lovable, fuzzy, soft-eyed creatures complete with a bow, placed under the Christmas tree, or on papers in the kitchen, are hands-down one of the cutest things ever imagined.

It's those hours, days, months and years after that picture-perfect gift-giving morning that can cause some people to tear out their hair. For unlike those toys that can be tossed in a corner and forgotten, puppies need training, attention and love to become a well-adjusted member of the family.

At the Pagosa Springs Humane Society, volunteer dog trainers are part of the program, working weekly with the animals in residence to help make them better-behaved for the prospect of their own perfect homecoming. The training technique, one of positive reinforcement, can be used in any home.

Julie Paige, the former humane society president who started a Train the Trainers volunteer program in Pagosa Springs more than two years ago, said the best time to start puppy training is at seven weeks of age. And then, she recommends using positive reinforcement methods to teach the necessary commands: come, sit, down, among others.

"The beauty of positive reinforcement training is that you're not doing any damage. All you have to do is find that treat that drives them - food, a walk, a belly scratch." Once a treat that the dog will work for is discovered, it becomes a matter of treating or praising the puppy when the animal does the right thing on verbal command versus punishing the animal for wrong behavior. The result, she said, is an animal that is encouraged to think and respond favorably to training, instead of a dog forced into obedience through fear of retribution.

"The most important thing is come," she said, "and I like the dog to default to a sit whenever he wants anything, and that's accomplished through training."

Starting early is one of the keys, Paige said. When a puppy, especially a large breed, reaches 7 months of age it is difficult to begin training and eradicate bad habits.

Another common mistake is that people will tell a dog to "come," when something bad has happened and then punish the animal. This teaches the dog that "come" has a negative and nasty result, reducing the chance of achieving the desired result.

"Training has changed a lot in the last 10 years," Paige, who has 33 years of experience under her belt, said. "We've gone from the old military-type training to a gentler style. That's why you're seeing such incredible performances in agility and obedience because the dogs are happier."

It all begins, she said, with a relationship built on trust.

"It's having the dog focus on me rather than on its surroundings."

At the shelter, that's especially important because of all the distractions of other dogs, noise and activity.

"That animal needs to understand that you are a source of love, walks, food and attention." To do that, she starts simply by taking the dog for a walk, removing the animal from the shelter environment.

Rose Smith, just one of the humane society's volunteer trainers, said many of the dogs at the shelter come in with little or no formal training. Many have never worn a collar or walked on a leash.

"You've got to have their attention before you can do anything else," she said.

To accomplish that she commands the animal to "look at me," and points to her face. When the dog looks, it receives a treat and praise right away.

Once she has the animal's attention, she might move on to "walk with me." This command is intended to train the dog not to pull on the end of the leash. When the dog responds to the command, it is once again given praise and a treat. If it continues to pull on the end of the leash, Smith simply stops and stands until the dog returns to her side before moving ahead with the walk.

"Some of them will get it right off and others it might take two or three times," Smith said.

Eventually, she said, this method teaches the dog to walk right next to her instead of way out ahead.

"When they get tired of that we work on stay, down, and wait," she added. "Off," and "leave it" are other commands she teaches when time is available.

She considers the job done when control is at a point where she can tell a dog "stay," and walk about 150 feet away with her back turned without the animal budging. Smith usually spends two or three hours two days a week working with the dogs. She works with the same dogs on each visit - until they are adopted anyway.

"I like to work with the abused dogs," she said. "I think the most rewarding thing is when you have a dog that's just like a carpet when you start and you get it up and walking."

She said people who adopt dogs from the humane society are given a list of commands used by the volunteer trainers to take home. Using those same commands consistently is essential, she said. That way the dog's understanding is reinforced instead of confused. She also encouraged people to give treats right away when the dog performs the right task. Waiting too long also causes confusion.

The hardest part of training in her case, is not taking in every dog she trains.

"You just hope they end up with a good home."

Perhaps this year, some will, becoming the cutest Christmas presents under the tree.

Humane Society presents two volunteer awards

Sunday afternoon the Humane Society Thrift Center was a party scene. Partygoers exchanged gifts and enjoyed a scrumptious lunch - a variety of soups, salads, breads and desserts.

The event was a "Thank You" to the many folks - sixty or so - who have put so much time and effort into seeing that homeless animals in our community are cared for and, especially, to the two individuals selected to receive the Jake and Terry Hershey Award as Volunteers of the Year. Nancy Ray, President of the Humane Society, awarded Nancy Van Maetre, who is recovering from an illness in a Denver Hospital, the Hershey Award for Outstanding Service to the Thrift Store and Jenny Schoenborn the Award for Outstanding Service to the Shelter.

The Hershey Award was created in memory of Jake Hershey and to say thank you to Terry for her tireless efforts on behalf of our shelter animals. The award is in its second year and soon all recipients will find their names recorded on a plaque at the Thrift Store.

 

Letters

Freedom of religion

Dear Editor,

In reference to Doug Hellman's letter concerning a Christian nation, no one who has studied even a little history would claim that the founders of this country were atheist. In fact, most of them held strong Christian beliefs as evident from almost any of their own writings. Reference to God was common. This much is true. However, it was precisely because they believed in the importance of spiritual pursuit that they advocated the separation of church and state.

This nation was founded by people fleeing religious persecution. They were all too aware that when government becomes involved with religion, it is religion that suffers. Thomas Jefferson said, "Our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted."

In 1644, Roger Williams, a devout Christian and founder of Rhode Island, wrote an essay titled "A Plea for Religious Liberty." In this essay he states "God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state: which enforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls."

In 1943, Supreme Court Justice Murphy wrote, "But there is before us the right of freedom to believe, freedom to worship one's Maker according to the dictates of one's conscience, a right which the constitution specifically shelters. Reflection has convinced me that as a judge I have no loftier duty or responsibility than to uphold that spiritual freedom to its farthest reaches."

The founders of this country sought freedom of religion. It is the first article of the Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791. The historic reference to the wall of separation of church and state came from Thomas Jefferson in 1802. And, lest you think the religious diversity they advocated was limited to the various Christian denominations, Jefferson made it perfectly clear when he said, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

As history teaches us, any effort to fuse religion and government is profoundly misguided. The founders were wise enough to recognize this fact.

It is not the ACLU or the revisionists who have invented the separation of church and state, it was great thinkers long ago whose ideas were re-affirmed by our often devoutly religious founders. It is time to let go of the hysterical rhetoric that claims someone is trying to remove God from America. The only thing anyone is trying to remove is the continued efforts by extremists to usurp our government in order to impose one particular version of God on everyone else.

Sincerely,

Lesli Allison

Festival canceled

Dear Editor,

Due to a dramatic decrease in advance ticket sales, the Winterfolk Music Festival, scheduled to take place at the Pagosa Springs High School Auditorium Feb. 8 and 9, has been cancelled.

The FolkWest board of directors would like to thank the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, the Pagosa Springs High School, Music Boosters, area motels and all of our volunteers for their generous support of this event in the past.

Anyone who has purchased tickets will receive a full refund. For more information call 731-5582.

Thank you,

Dan Appenzeller

Abuse of power

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter because I believe that, like us, others may have been the subject of unfair and arbitrary rulings by arguably the most powerful agency in our county. I am referring to Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation (PAWS), the people to whom you send your roughly $25 a month and probably pay very little attention as to their decisions and policies.

We own two adjacent lots in Meadows. The tap fee has been paid on one of the lots; the other lot is not in the district and is where we are building our house. We wanted to consolidate our two lots in a single lot, a formal process by which the boundary between the lots is legally erased. It was the board's opinion that we would be subject to a second tap fee despite the fact that we were consolidating our lots into a single lot. The fees would exceed $12,000.

The board has effectively created a disincentive to lot consolidation. Four of the five board members were incapable of seeing that their decision was at cross purposes with the Community Plan. There was one board member who differed, saying that the district has "a responsibility to the environment" as well as to "the objectives of the Community Plan." No one else agreed with her. Her call for a compromise died on the table.

Colorado law states that "all charges made ... by any public utility for any ... service rendered ... shall be just and reasonable" (CRS 40-3-101). The inclusion and facilities upgrade fees in our county are more than double those of Bayfield, Durango, Alamosa, Monte Vista and Denver. In fact, none of the districts that I contacted reported inclusion fees that approached anything remotely close to those of PAWS. Are these fees "just" and "reasonably" levied? No. The District depends on the fact that consumers don't have the time or money to scrutinize their practices.

PAWS is abusing its power. It's trying to regulate growth by raising fees to levels that only the most affluent can afford - in effect, the district is gentrifying our community under the guise of "growth paying its own pay." At best, this is a board that doesn't understand the ramifications of its policies. At worst, this is a board that doesn't care. Either way, it's incumbent upon our commissioners and the public to involve and educate themselves as to the policies of PAWS.

I asked an official of PAWS: "Wouldn't it be in the interest of PAWS to annex our lot as well as other lots in Meadows that aren't in the district. It would generate cash flow as well as be a public service to your customers." She replied, "We don't care. It's just revenues to us." Would you want to own stock in that corporation?

Sincerely,

Angela Atkinson and Paul Donharl

 

Blessed for friends

Dear Editor,

A special Note of Thanks at Christmas:

I want to thank everyone in the community that has stopped by or called my parents, Floyd and Virginia Bramwell, this past year. When I talk with them (which I do often) they tell me about each one of you - and I feel very blessed by your friendship and love for them. They are true witnesses to the belief that "what one puts out into the world comes back to you 10 fold. . ." They have lived their lives in honesty and love and hard work. You all are giving back to them, and I thank you for this. You bring much light and joy into their world.

I want to especially thank Joy Norris for all of her consistent time and caring for Mom and Dad. She has been like a true, loving family member. I also want to recognize and thank the wonderful staff at Pine Ridge Extended Care Facility. Each one of you have made a difference in every day of their life from good medical care, good nutrition, to keeping their room clean and fresh ice water at their bedsides. They and I appreciate every effort given. I thank God everyday for each one of you and that I can sleep well at night knowing that you are there. A special thanks to Tinnie Bramwell for her extra loving care.

Happy 86th Birthday Mom.

Love,

Marvel Bramwell

All beliefs welcome

Dear Editor,

Calling the United States a "Christian Nation" would be true due to the fact that most religious people in America are indeed Christian. Most people in this country also love hamburgers, but I don't hear anyone calling us the "Hamburger Nation." It is also true that George Washington was a God-fearing man, but that was his personal belief. As far as the United States Constitution is concerned we are a country of all religions and beliefs.

Our founding fathers held different beliefs and they didn't necessarily agree on everything - including religion. The one thing they did agree on was the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in which the word Christian was purposely omitted (hence the separation of church and state). If we were a true Christian nation the Constitution would have stated as much. Just because Washington uses the word God in speeches doesn't mean we should be called a Christian nation. Like it or not, a Jew or a Muslim, etc. can be legally elected President - and rightly so!

The recent letter from Mr. Hellman is well-meant, but unfortunately it smacks of intolerance and exclusivity. At this special time of the year we should be thankful that we, as a nation, are free and we are free to practice any religion we choose.

Happy holidays - to all.

Sincerely,

DC Duncan

Touched by carolers

Dear Editor,

On Friday, Dec. 14, my husband and I had our neighbors over for a Christmas party. We were sitting around visiting when a couple of young girls came to the door. We went out to greet them, and along with them were about 20 young people that started to sing Christmas carols. We were very surprised and very touched at such a nice gesture. In addition to singing to us, they also gave us a loaf of (blueberry) bread. We live in Loma Linda subdivision and some of our guests said that some of the kids were local neighborhood kids of Chris Smith.

Well, we just want to wish them and their families a very Merry Christmas. It is nice to know that the Christmas spirit is alive and well in the hearts of our young people. God Bless them.

Happy Holidays to all.

Errol and Carol Gilliland

Stolen ladder

Dear Editor,

This time of the season, helping others is usually the spirit we think of most. Last Thursday evening I set up my 8-foot ladder on Hot Springs Boulevard near the light. (I needed a higher vantage point to take a dusk time photo of the San Juan River for this issue of the SUN.) I returned to my truck in the parking lot across the street to get my camera and tripod. In that short time, someone decided to help themselves to my ladder.

I need the ladder, but I can replace it. I hope the culprit can replace the spirit in them by returning the ladder or by giving the ladder to a worthy local organization in need. If you need to keep it, Merry Christmas.

Jeff Laydon

God bless veterans

Dear Editor,

God bless Ed Vezey and all the other men and women who have served the cause of freedom during World War II and throughout our history. Acts of heroism don't come easy. Ed and his shipmates, those living and dead, continue to bring honor to our great country.

Thank you Ed. God bless you and all our veterans.

The Rev. Dr. Clark M. Sherman

Shop Pagosa first

Dear Editor,

As the year draws to a close, many people are shopping for friends and family. I would like to encourage the people of Archuleta County to look at home first; many have no idea what fine items local merchants have to offer, and make the assumption that there is more available out of town or in catalogs, or that they can get "cheaper" elsewhere.

Not so. Local merchants carry a great variety of quality items, and I have found more innovative and original items locally than anywhere else. Additionally, the personal customer service and product knowledge here is outstanding.

Last year I needed a very specific item and had carefully researched exactly what I wanted. I proceeded to call most of the large catalog companies, only to find that no one could give me much product information, nor did any of them have any of the product, or a similar one left in stock for the year. In desperation, I finally went to the stores here locally and found not only the item I wanted in every store I looked, but also a wide choice of colors, excellent personal service and product knowledge, and prices the same or lower than those advertised in catalogs. What a dramatic lesson to shop Pagosa first.

Thank you, Pagosa merchants, for the effort you make to provide the quality products and service you do. I appreciate what you offer and I enjoy the convenience of being able to shop at home and do business with my neighbors.

Sincerely,

Gerlinde Ehni Snyder

 

Sports Page

Pirates lasso Gunnison 62-52
By John M. Motter

Pagosa ended the Black Canyon Tournament on a winning note Saturday by lassoing the Gunnison Cowboys 62-52.

The win boosted the Pirate record to three and five for the season. Pagosa has one game to play before the Christmas break. They host Durango tonight at 7, then lay off for the holidays. Following the holidays, Pagosa travels to Bloomfield, N.M., Jan. 11 for a non-league game. Intermountain League play begins Jan. 18 when Pagosa hosts the Ignacio Bobcats.

"What I like about the Gunnison game is, we found a way to win," said Jim Shaffer, the Pirate coach. "Brandon Charles was in foul trouble and spent a lot of time on the bench. We have two other starters out with injuries. We had to put Ryan Goodenberger and Ty Faber in to fill the gaps. I'm proud of the way they responded, not only in this game but throughout the tournament."

Pagosa took an early lead against a veteran Gunnison team and enjoyed a 22-17 first quarter margin. Gunnison came back during the second quarter after Charles picked up a technical foul and went to the bench. By halftime, Pagosa's lead was a slim 34-33. The Cowboys also won the third period by a slim 12-11 margin setting up a final period, 8-minute showdown for all of the marbles.

The Pirates were up to the challenge. With about two minutes left and Pagosa on top 54-49, Gunnison was forced to play catch up by fouling. Pagosa built their final lead to 62-52 by taking advantage of the free throw opportunities.

"I was really proud of how they fought for the game during the final period," Shaffer said.

Charles topped Pagosa scoring with 16 points, followed by Caleb Forrest and Clayton Spencer with nine points each, Henrique Dias with eight points, Faber with seven points, Goodenberger with six points, Cord Ross with five points, and Brandon Samples with two points.

Charles' seven rebounds and five assists were tops for the Pirates, followed by Forrest with six rebounds and Dias and Spencer with five rebounds each. Pagosa nabbed 29 rebounds for the game.

Pagosa's two-point shooting improved to 46 percent with 23 of 50 field goals falling through the hoop. Three-point success remained a sub-par one for five. The final victory margin might have been larger if Pagosa free throw shooting was better. The Pirates only hit 13 of 31 from the free throw line, a shooting percentage of 41.9.

Pagosa made six turnovers during the game.

Pirates beaten by Bears at Montrose
By John M. Motter

Coach Don Shaffer's youthful Pirate basketball team continues to improve.

Shaffer carried one senior, eight sophomores, two juniors, and a freshman to Montrose for the Black Canyon Tournament this past weekend. The Pirates returned with wins over Olathe and Gunnison and a loss to 4A power Rifle.

"I feel real positive about the results," Shaffer said. "We came away with two wins. We continue to get better."

Pagosa opened Friday against the Rifle Bears, a team brimming with lots of firepower, five seniors and rafter-rimming height. Rifle sailed through the tournament without a loss, but surrendered the tournament championship to Kirtland, N.M. Kirtland was also unbeaten in the tournament, but won their games by larger margins. Pagosa did not play Kirtland, nor did Kirtland play Rifle.

"We stayed with them early," Shaffer said. "We were only down 18-16 with two minutes left in the first half. They got a couple of rebounds, made a couple of three-point plays, and went to the locker room on top 25-16. We never got into it during the second half."

During the remainder of the game, Rifle clamped a 1-2-2 zone defense on Pagosa, a strategy the Pirates couldn't solve.

"Our boys are young and it still takes them awhile to adjust," Shaffer said. "They couldn't get any rebounds during the second half."

The Bears outgunned Pagosa 25-12 during the third period, but lost the final quarter 13-12.

Adding to Pagosa's woes, leading scorer Brandon Charles got into foul trouble and eventually fouled out after spending considerable time on the bench.

Even so, Charles' 19 points topped the Pirates in scoring. Also scoring for Pagosa were Clayton Spencer with seven points, Caleb Forrest with six points, Ty Faber with three points, Ryan Goodenberger and and Jeremy Caler with two points each, and Luke Brinton and Cord Ross with a point apiece.

Pagosa gathered 21 rebounds during the game, 18 on the defensive boards and only three on the offensive boards. Forrest and Spencer each had six rebounds to top Pagosa in that department.

Charles led the team in assists with two and steals with four. Pagosa committed 19 turnovers during the game.

Pagosa shot 37.8 percent from two-point range by making 14 of 37 attempts. From beyond the three-point perimeter, the Pirates converted a paltry one of seven attempts for a percentage of 14. From the free throw line, the Pirates were successful only 43.5 percent of the time, hitting 10 of 23.

Pagosa's next game is tonight at 7 p.m. in the high school gym against the Durango Demons.

Ladies bruise Olathe for tourney crown
By Richard Walter

Pretend basketball, girls' style, is your soul food and someone just eliminated two of your prime recipe ingredients.

What do you do?

If you're chef Karen Wells, you take the basic recipe and improvise on the ingredients.

What do you get?

Championship of the prestigious Black Canyon Classic played last weekend in Montrose.

It came down to the last of three games for the Lady Pirates without their two starting guards, Shannon and Lori Walkup, who were in Texas watching an older sister graduate from college.

The Pagosans had already defeated a pair of Class 4A squads but needed an impressive win over their first 3A foe of the season to have a shot at the title because host Montrose had already gone 3-0 against the same foes Pagosa faced.

With that in mind, Wells stirred the kettle and told her charges to "pound the ball inside until they stop you."

They, Olathe, never found that secret to souring the recipe and as a result Pagosa's inside force of Ashley Gronewoller and Katie Lancing sweetened the Pagosa meal with 30 and 24 points respectively in the tournament's final game. The result was a 71-39 flambé of the "other Pirates."

Don't get the idea the rest of Pagosa's 9-member traveling squad weren't involved. Every player saw action and everyone contributed her own spice to chef Wells' recipe.

Take, for example, senior forward Nicole Buckley who came off the bench in the second half (when, incidentally, the reserves played more than half the allotted time) to score six points, haul down five rebounds (three defensive) and contribute three steals.

Add into the mix senior forward turned guard Carlena Lungstrum who scored only two points, but added three rebounds, two at the offensive end, and had a pair of key steals to keep the pot simmering.

Meld in junior forward Katie Bliss with four points, two rebounds and a steal. Blend that with junior reserve guard Tricia Lucero who hit one three-pointer, had two rebounds and two steals, and was a defensive factor throughout the game with seemingly boundless energy and an in-your-face demeanor which put a little extra spice into the mix.

Senior reserve guard Joetta Martinez had a field goal, a steal and a defensive rebound and while freshmen guards Bri Scott and Mollie Honan failed to score, they were the minutes-consuming spoons who stirred the whole dish while giving the starters frequent rests. Scott chipped in with two rebounds and an assist and Honan with one sweep off the offensive board.

With the pot barely up to a simmer, the Pirates went to work early with Gronewoller nailing 15 and Lancing 8 in the first period. Bliss hit a pair from the line and Lucero drilled her trey to make it a 28-6 first period for Pagosa. Olathe's Mandy Chezen got four of her eight points for the game in the period and their tallest player, 5' 10" Brandy Cannell hit a pair of charity tosses.

While Olathe scored only three field goals in the second period, they converted eight of 14 from the charity stripe while the Pagosa game coasted with a trey from Lancing and a pair of field goals from Gronewoller.

Pagosa turned up the heat to open the second half, with Lancing, Gronewoller, Bliss and Buckley all connecting before Wells changed the makeup and kept just one starter on the floor at a time. The result was a 15-13 Pagosa quarter with Lancing hitting for eight in the frame.

Then Wells turned up the heat under her prize dish.

The fourth quarter was a 21-6 Pagosa runaway with Lancing hitting five, Gronewoller eight, Buckley four and Martinez a driving layup for a pair.

The meal was cooked and the effort was sweetened about 15 minutes later when the Pagosa squad learned they were tournament champions, based on more points against common opponents than Montrose had scored.

Both Lancing and Gronewoller, as they had been in the Cortez Invitational and at the Wolf Creek Classic in Pagosa Springs, were named to the all-tournament team.

The victory improved Pagosa's record to 8-1 on the season, and chef Wells enjoyed her new recipe to its satisfying max.

The Ladies will have better than three weeks to savor their victory. They're on break now until traveling to Bloomfield Jan. 11 to face the homestanding Bobcats before they get into the IML season Jan. 18 with a home clash against Ignacio, another set of Bobcats.

4A feast for Lady Pirates
By Richard Walter

Commit 26 turnovers in a girls' high school basketball game, and you can expect two things to happen - you lose and you incite your coach's wrath.

Only the latter happened to Pagosa's Lady Pirates in their middle game at the Black Canyon Classic Saturday in Montrose.

Despite their inattention to ball control, the Pagosa squad ran up a 59-39 win over third year school Greeley Northridge.

The story in this one was Katie Lancing - with a lot of help from not-so-usual sources.

Pagosa raced to a 19-6 first period lead and then blanked 4A Northridge in the second stanza to hike the lead to 34-6 at the intermission.

With the big lead, coach Karen Wells gave her reserves plenty of playing time in the second half and the result was, to say the least, ugly. Unofficially, 18 of the 26 turnovers (the coach said her own scorers recorded a total of 31) occurred in the half and the fledgling Grizzlies squad outpointed the Pirates 33-25 in the half.

Lancing had 10 of her game high 25 points in the first period and 12 more in the second quarter while the Pirates were building their huge lead. She had none, sitting out most of the third period, and only three in the fourth as she started dishing the ball to others.

As a result, Ashley Gronewoller had 8 of her 15 game points in the fourth period.

With Lancing on the bench in the third period, the scoring load fell on junior forward Katie Bliss who answered the challenge with 6 of her 8 points for the game and turned in three defensive rebounds, two steals and an assist of her own.

Not to be outdone, Nicole Buckley spelled both Lancing and Gronewoller in the low post position and chipped in with a field goal and two for three at the foul line. Her biggest contribution, however, was eight rebounds, four at each end. She also recorded three steals and two assists.

In the rebounding category, as in the scoring summary, it was Lancing leading the way with 13, 10 at the defensive end, effectively stopping opponent possessions after missed shots. The Grizzlies, in fact, had only nine rebounds in the game with five at the offensive end.

Lancing's field goals came on 10 of 13 shooting from the floor, including one trey. For good measure, she added seven steals and five assists.

Gronewoller was 7 of 8 from the floor and 1 of 2 from the foul line for her 15 points. She added 7 rebounds (5 defensive), one steal and one assist.

Lungstrum hit 2 of 3 field goal attempts for 4 points and had one defensive rebound, one steal and three assists. Lucero was 1 for 2 from the field and had one steal and one assist. Freshman Bri Scott hit 1 of 3 from the field for 2 points and had a steal and two assists.

Freshman Mollie Honan recorded a defensive rebound and an assist, and Joetta Martinez turned in an assist.

Afterward, Wells was fuming about the failure to protect the ball. "These girls have to learn you can't throw the ball over the head of someone who is taller than you, and you can't try to force a pass between defenders. They need to learn patience. If it's not there, take it back out and set up the offense."

Northridge was paced by sophomore guard Karissa Ball with 13 points and junior center Brittany Cervantes with 8. Also contributing were junior guard D'Nae Chacon with 6, sophomore Kimberly Corban with 2, junior Christy Barnes with 4, junior Abby Baughan with 2, junior Danielle Sory with 2, and junior Amy Walker with 2.

With tournament victory number two under their belts, the Pirates awaited the tournament closing match with Olathe, the only Class 3A team they would encounter until the league season opens Jan. 18.

Pirate wrestlers third at Bloomfield tourney
By Karl Isberg

Preseason speculation about this year's Pirate wrestling team held that the squad would fare better in tournament action than in dual meets.

That speculation was borne out last weekend as the Pirates took third place at the 26-team Bloomfield N.M. Invitational.

Pirate grapplers did relatively well in their first matches of the year, all fought in dual meets at Rocky Ford, Ignacio and Buena Vista.The team emerged from the dual meet startup with a winning record and every wrestler on the varsity had a .500 record or better.

But, local wrestling aficionados were waiting for the first bona fide tournament of the season - a format in which a team with a solid core of wrestlers and several top-notch grapplers can pile up the points and succeed.

Bloomfield was that tournament and the Pirates finished third with 125.5 points, behind tourney winner Aztec N.M. and Monticello, Utah.

"This was not a bad tournament for us at all," said coach Dan Janowsky. "We got in all kinds of wrestling and the experience was real positive." Janowsky highlighted the positive experience by noting his wrestlers were "real competitive. They were contesting everybody. Even when they didn't win, they put up a fight. It was rare we gave up points by getting pinned."

A number of the Pirates dropped to the weights projected for them this year.

One of those wrestlers to drop a weight class was sophomore Kory Hart, who won the tourney championship at 135 pounds.

Hart began his trip to the title after a first-round bye, pinning Chee Livingston of Newcomb, N.M. as the second period of the match came to a close. The Pirate then earned his way to the finals with a 13-8 decision over Aztec's Clint Ritter. A 7-4 decision over Steven Montoya of Piedra Vista put Hart at the top of the class.

"Kory showed what he can do," said Janowsky. "He had a good mental attitude and he breezed through the bracket. He showed quickness and he mauled people. Kory started getting his takedowns going at this tournament. He's getting his feet on the ground in this program and many of the things we were hoping for are starting to happen for him."

Michael Martinez wrestled his way to second place at 112. The sophomore began the tourney by whipping Tyrel Snyder of Monticello 14-4. An 18-7 victory over Phillip Werner of Ignacio put Martinez on the mat against Carlos Jeanete of Taos. Martinez scored an 11-6 decision to move to the finals against Tyler Hare of Bloomfield. Martinez lost the final match 6-2.

"Michael turns heads wherever he goes," said the coach. "And he wrestled his typical fast style. We've been working with him to open up his offense; he wrestles at an unbelievable pace and his opponents work to slow him down, often by just hanging on. We're going to keep working with him to clear his tie-ups."

Cliff Hockett dropped a weight class and took second at 130. The Pirate pinned Chris Craig of Wingate, Ariz. at 3:21 then advanced on an injury forfeit to meet Pirate teammate Ronnie O'Brien in the semifinal, a match Hockett won 7-2. A 6-2 loss to Jason hare of Aztec put Hockett in second. "Cliff is wrestling well," said Janowsky, "but never really got a sustained challenge at Bloomfield. He will do well at 130."

Freshman Darren Hockett took third at 103. Following a first-round bye, Hockett pinned Zach Larimore of Dove Creek at 3:56. After a loss to the eventual champion, Hockett dropped to a consolation match against Larimore, who he pinned at 1:38. In the fight for third place, the Pirate pinned Chad Dodge of Kirtland Central a mere 47 seconds into the match.

"Darren looked good," said Janowsky. "He lost in the semifinal, but he had an easy time other than that."

Senior Luke Boilini was another Pirate who dropped a weight class for the tournament, moving down from 215 to 189. Boilini made short work of George Schular of Sanders Valley, Ariz., getting the fall at 1:14. A 3-1 decision over Craig Herring of Aztec advanced the Pirate to a match against Nate Dandy of San Juan. Boilini lost a 3-2 decision and moved to a rematch with Herring. A 3-1 decision gave Boilini a chance to fight for third against Jerome Casaus of Bloomfield. Boilini took third with a 3-1 decision.

"Luke dropped to 189," said the coach, "and it paid off for him. He had an easier time with his defense; now he needs to get more offensive-minded."

James Gallegos earned points when he pinned a San Juan athlete at 119.

Michael Maestas was 3-2 at the tournament at 125, getting a 19-3 technical fall in his first match, and wins over opponents from Espanola and Ignacio.

Aaron Perez notched two wins at 140, getting a fall at 1:41 over a Kirtland Central wrestler and pinning an athlete from Wingate in the third period.

Trevor Peterson got an 8-2 decision over a Bayfield wrestler at 145.

Zeb Gill went at 153 and nailed a fall at 3:14 over a wrestler from Grants.

Jordan Kurt-Mason saw his first action of the year at 160 and pinned his opponent from Shiprock at 2:57 of their match.

Marcus Rivas won his first match of the tournament with a pin, beating a wrestler from Los Alamos at 1:36.

Janowsky sees progress, but a lot of room for improvement as his team moves into a week of practice before holiday break. "To me," he said, "we look young and still somewhat inexperienced. But we're persistent and real aggressive, always trying to make things happen. These are very good signs. You can see the results of all the hard work these guys are doing. Right now, there's a gap between us and top-10 teams in the 3A division. At the rate we're going, however, we could be there by the end of the season."

Pagosa returns to action Jan 10 meeting Bayfield in a dual meet at Bayfield. That meet begins at 6 p.m.

On Jan. 11, a dual meet with 4A Sierra from Colorado Springs has been added to the schedule. The meet, set for 6 p.m. at the high school gym, will give local wrestling fans an additional chance to see the Pirates in action at home.

The next day, Jan. 12, Pagosa hosts one of the best tournaments in the Four Corners: the Rocky Mountain Invitational. Many of the stellar regulars will make another appearance at the Rocky this year, including Aztec, Alamosa, Antonito, Bayfield, Bloomfield, Centauri, Center, Del Norte, Durango, Ignacio, Monticello and Monte Vista. New this year will be Sierra and Taos. Action at the high school gym starts at 10 a.m.

"We'll have January second to January tenth to train," said Janowsky. "We'll be able to get back in shape, then have a couple of matches under our belts before we host our tournament. It will be a great way to get into the heart of the season."

 

Weather Stats

The following weather information is brought to you as a public service by Kinder/Morgan

Date

High

Low

Precipitation

Type

Depth

Moisture

12/11

36

10

-

-

-

12/12

34

11

-

-

-

12/13

35

10

-

-

-

12/14

29

12

S

3

.29

12/15

29

3

-

-

-

12/16

36

10

S

2

.19

12/17

37

12

-

-

-

Community News

Chamber News
By Doug Trowbridge

Chamber offers variety of stocking stuffers

Sally has once again left Pagosa. There seems to be a direct correlation between her absence and the number of activities taking place in Pagosa Springs. The question is, does Sally leave when things are slow or does all activity cease when Sally's not around. Hmmm.

We'll ponder this during the peaceful days to come, but here's what is happening in the void left by Sally's departure.

Chamber store

If you've got a list and just checked it twice

Did you miss a gift for someone who's nice?

Did you need a pin or a game or a book?

Then come to the Chamber Store, quick take a look.

 

We've got posters and ball caps and videos too,

So much I could keep going on 'til I'm blue.

Wine glasses, cups and mugs for your drinks,

Shirts, tapes and decals for last minute kinks.

 

So drop what you're doing, come in and say "Hi",

We'll be happy to show you the things you can buy.

The Chamber's the place to get your Christmas cheer

And to make your friends envious all through next year!

 

We will be adding a page on our website to showcase many of the items available. Check out our site at www.pagosaspringschamber.com in the near future to see what the Chamber Store has to offer. Look for the Chamber Store on-line soon.

Screen saver

I know many of you were beginning to think the Chamber was leading you on with this story about a Pagosa Springs Screen Saver, but it's finally here in all its glory. Packed with 32 scenes of everything we love about Pagosa, this screen saver is a must for every stocking on your Christmas list. Or you can make it your New Year's resolution to show all your friends in other states why you chose Pagosa as your home. With pictures of all four seasons, you'll also want one of these for your own computer to remind you of all the fun you can expect when the snow finally melts or falls.

Truly, this screen saver belongs in the hands of anyone who lives in, visits or has ever heard of Pagosa Springs. And at only $10, you can afford to have one of your very own. They are waiting for you at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center. Get yours today.

Holiday happenings

Don't forget that tomorrow night, Friday, Dec. 21, Pagosa ARSE's (A Reading Society and Ensemble) will present their adaptation of "The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever." The presentation will begin at 6:15 p.m. at the Senior Center. If you have never attended an ARSE event, you should know that entertainment and fun are always guaranteed.

A potluck dinner will precede the program for all who are interested. The play is free, but if you wish to join the dinner, please bring a dish to share. For more information, contact Cindy with the Senior Center at 264-2167.

Last call

Saturday will be your last chance to check out "Elvis Returns!" The final show is set for Saturday at 7:45 p.m. at The Bastille Street Theatre, next to Loredana's Restaurant. Tickets are $8 in advance (available at WolfTracks Coffee Co., The Chamber, and Loredana's) or $10 at the door. With 20 percent of the proceeds going to a fund to help the Quick family purchase a handicap accessible van for their son Jaxon, you'll have an enjoyable evening and do a good deed all at the same time.

Membership

All renewals this week, but our first one has done a complete makeover. Elizabeth Young with Exclusively Elizabeth presents "Head to Toe," featuring hair design, skin and nail care, and quality consignment clothing. You'll still find them at 286 Pagosa St. Give them a call at 264-6413.

Also renewing this week are David Harbur with Alpine Builders; Terry Clifford with Clifford Construction,; Bud Cunningham with Interior Dreams; Jane Zimmerman with the Durango Area Chamber Resort Assoc.; Linda and Charity Love with The Hideout; Scott Firth with DCI Technical Services; Vincenso Sencich with Enzo's Catering; Jean and Pam Poitras; Echo Canyon Ranch Association; and Lynn Cook with Four Seasons Land Co., Inc.\GMAC Real Estate, and Lynn Cook again as an Associate Member.

Thanks to this week's renewals and to all our members. Have a very Merry Christmas.

Senior News
By Janet Copeland

Christmas fun abounds for local seniors

The folks at Archuleta Senior Citizens wish everyone good health, good times with loved ones and friends, and a very merry Christmas.

Everyone remember to join us at the Center tomorrow. The School within a School fifth and sixth graders will perform during the lunch hour. After lunch those who wish may join the group in coming to the Copeland's for a Christmas Open House. That evening at 5 p.m. we will enjoy the December potluck, after which we will be treated to a wonderful play, "Best Christmas Pageant Ever," presented by the local ARSE (A Reading Society and Ensemble), which will take place around 6:15. We thank John Porter for putting this together.

Our annual Christmas party will be held Dec. 24, during the lunch hour. Enjoy the feast Dawnie and her wonderful kitchen staff will prepare for us, then those who wish to may take part in the gift exchange. Women should bring a gift for a woman, and men should bring a gift for a man. Call Cindy at 264-2167 if you have questions about this fun event.

Sister Badger and Sister McBride, with the Church of Latter Day Saints, will be offering another craft class (free) after lunch tomorrow. We appreciate their talents and help.

On Wednesday the children from Head Start entertained us with singing. They are so talented and cute - we really appreciate them and hope they can come again soon.

We were happy to have Dot Jones and Sepp Leppitsch join us for lunch on Wednesday.

Thank you to Dennis Martinez for decorating the windows at the Center, and to Ben Horseman for donating Christmas lights.

Helen Schoonover is our Senior of the Week - congratulations. Helen contributes many volunteer hours for our group and we really appreciate her.

We wish a speedy recovery to Joan Sager and Judy Ulatowski, who are recuperating from injuries.

A little bird told me that Joe Lister will be celebrating a birthday on Dec. 26 - Happy Birthday, Joe.

The election of officers for the board of Archuleta Senior Citizens, Inc. was held Friday. Those elected to serve for year 2002 are: President, Phil Heitz; Vice President, Bob Kamrath; Treasurer, Joan Sager; Secretary, Janet Copeland. Board members are Eva Darmopray, Dorothy Million, Doris Kamrath, Lucille Arrington, Ken Fox, and Teresa Diestelkamp. Also, George Ziegler was elected to join Gene Copeland and Bill Downey in representing Archuleta County on the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) Board.

Our thanks to Kathy Conway for the CPR class, and to Terry Clifford for her tips on how to stay healthy. The ten tips are: take the flu shot, exercise, eat balanced and low-fat meals, control stress, seek peaceful resolution to problems, pursue healthy pleasures, stay smoke-free, avoid excessive use of alcohol, develop safe habits, and feel good about yourself. Terry tells us that folks who have had their pneumonia shots after age 65 don't need to take them again. Those who had the shot before age 65 should take them again within 5 to 8 years.

Folks who placed an order for Senior Law Books must pay Musetta now so the books can be delivered.

Local Chatter
By Kate Terry

Traditions flavored by special recipes

What are your customs during the holidays?

Some friends have been kind enough to talk about their special ones.

I'll start with Becky Thompson's recipe for Walnut Patica that she serves to her husband Mark and their children every Christmas morning. It came from her grandmother who was born in Yugoslavia. The recipe makes enough to fill four or five 13x9 inch pans.

The filling includes: 5 lbs. unshelled walnuts (or 2 1/2 shelled), 6 cups sugar, 2 cups honey, 3 sticks oleo or butter and 8 cups milk.

Combine this and cook on medium or low heat until dark brown in color - stirring frequently. This takes about two hours. Add 3 eggs and thoroughly mix.

Then make a dough (any recipe) and roll it thin to make a big circle. Spread filling about 1/4 inch thick and roll into a log. Place in 13x9 inch pan. Bake one hour at 350 degrees. Slice to serve. It freezes very well.

Biscochitos are a traditional Christmas cookie with the Hispanic people. This recipe is from Corina Martinez Valdez.

Ingredients: 1 cup lard, 1 cup sugar, 3 eggs, 2 tablespoons rum or brandy, 2 teaspoons ground anise, 3 cups flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a mixture of 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Directions: Cream 1 cup sugar and lard until fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Add rum and ainse and beat well. Mix dry ingredients - minus cinnamon-sugar mixture - and add to egg mixture. Mix until it all holds together. (Use wooden spoon or fingers.) Roll out on floured board and cut with cutter or knife. Bake on unfloured cookie sheet about 20 minutes at 450 degrees. Dip one side of cookie in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, the tradition is to serve tamales on Christmas Day. Many cookbooks include recipes for tamales.

Some people in Pagosa Springs serve Posole on New Year's Day. Posole is not necessarily confined to the holidays though. Here are two recipes.

Donna Laverty's recipe for Posole is this: 2 large cans hominy, 1 pound ground beef, 2 garlic cloves (chopped fine), 2 teaspoons oregano. Cook on low for several hours.

Becky Thompson's recipe for Posole is to boil a whole chicken in salt water. Let cool. Chop 1/2 onion (or more) and 4 or 5 large garlic cloves. Skin and chop chicken. Add a bag of frozen posole (can be purchased locally). Add chicken that has been skinned and chopped. Add 5 or 6 small red peppers (seeds removed and cut into small pieces). Simmer 2 hours.

Around town

Emergency Medical Services is selling special light bulbs to be used to alert responders to the right houses in case of emergencies. They cost $10. Sisson Library has them.

Solstice is the time of the year when the sun is at its greatest distance from the equator. This happens twice a year about Dec. 22 (winter solstice) and about June 22 (summer solstice). This year's winter solstice is Dec. 21 and summer solstice will be June 22.

Fun on the run

Little Johnny, after being expelled from his latest school, was enrolled in a Catholic school. On his first day in the new school; he went to the cafeteria for lunch. The children were lined up patiently getting their lunches.

At the head of the serving line was a large pile of apples. One of the nuns made a note that said: "Take only one, God is watching."

Seeing this Little Johnny made a note of his own and placed it at the other end of the serving line, in front of a large pile of chocolate chip cookies.

Little Johnny's note said: "Take all you want, God is watching the apples."

Extension Viewpoints
By Bill Nobles

Weight watching tips keep holidays merry, fun

A couple of meatballs here, a few fried canapés there, some chips and nuts while waiting for a drink - holiday parties do take a toll. In fact, you may be amazed at how much you can eat simply standing next to the buffet table while chatting with a friend. Here are some tips to help you hold the line at holiday cocktail and dinner parties.

€ Arrive fashionably late at cocktail parties with a stomach that's not too hungry. A growling stomach will sabotage even the strongest willpower

€ Circulate. Help out the host or hostess by greeting guests at the door and taking coats. Or, stroll around the room and try to meet and talk with every guest. It's a great way to avoid the food and to learn about new and interesting people

€ Make low-fat choices most often at the buffet table. Choose fresh vegetables, crackers, bread and fruit over fried foods and cheese. If you want to nibble on cheese and fried canapés, take only one or two pieces

€ Boiled shrimp and scallops are good choices as long as you don't pull up a chair and devour the whole plate

€ Move quickly away from the buffet or snack table. Even if you're not hungry, the act of eating is contagious. Setting up court next to the buffet table can be deadly

€ Keep your glass filled with mineral water or ice water doused with a splash of lemon. These no-calorie drinks will help keep your whistle wet and your stomach satisfied without adding to your waistline

€ Set realistic goals. Plan ahead for what and how much you want to eat. If you know you won't be able to pass up the caramelized corn, allow yourself a small portion and factor it into your day's meal plan. Once you've made such a choice, enjoy the snack and don't feel guilty.

€ If the holiday party is a potluck affair, bring a dish that's light in calories and low in fat. That way, you can count on at least one nutritious choice

€ At dinner parties, keep helping sizes small. If multiple choices are offered, select between mashed potatoes and candied yams, for example, or between pumpkin pie and pecan pie, not both. Above all, remember that socializing, not food, makes parties fun. When you look at parties as a chance to enjoy old friends and meet new ones, the events become something to be savored, not just survived.

Done and safe

It's hard to think of the holidays without thinking about food - roast ham, standing rib roast, tender brisket with gravy, perhaps even a spicy, deep-fried turkey. And don't forget the creamy mashed potatoes and the pies, cookies and other special treats for the holiday season. With these fond thoughts of holiday foods comes pressure - pressure to prepare everything just right and pressure to serve safe food to all those guests. The cookies and mashed potatoes are relatively straightforward, but how do you know if a turkey or a beef roast is thoroughly cooked? Is "done" the same as "safe"? Not always.

Doneness reflects subjective qualities such as the appearance, texture and optimum flavor of a food. However, research has shown that these qualities aren't necessarily reliable indicators of safety. Only a food thermometer can be relied upon to accurately ensure destruction of pathogens that might be in the food. Visual signs of doneness should be reserved for situations in which doneness is reached after the food has reached a safe temperature.

Poultry is one product that generally reaches a safe temperature (160 degrees F) before most consumers consider it done (165 to 180 degrees F). At an internal temperature of 160 degrees F throughout, pathogenic bacteria have been destroyed, but poultry will still be pink and raw-looking near the bone and the juices will be pink and/or cloudy. At temperatures of 170 degrees F for white meat and 180 degrees F for dark meat, the flesh of poultry will no longer be pink, the juices will run clear and the joints will move easily. Visual clues, however, can't be trusted for the stuffing. The only way to be sure the stuffing has reached a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F is to use a thermometer.

Beef is another product that needs a thermometer to ensure safety. While few people like their chicken and turkey pink, many prefer beef that is still red or pink in middle. Luckily, a solid muscle beef roast that has been cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F or higher will have reached a high enough temperature on the surface to destroy E. coli O157:H7 and other pathogenic bacteria. Beef products that have been rolled, ground or mechanically tenderized, however, need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F to ensure safety. Recent research has confirmed that ground beef may turn brown before it has reached a temperature at which bacteria are destroyed or may remain pink long after reaching 160 degrees F. The only way to ensure safety and doneness is by using a food thermometer. For patties, this often means inserting the thermometer sideways into the hamburger in order to get an accurate reading. A hamburger cooked to 160 degrees F, measured with a food thermometer throughout the patty, is safe - regardless of color.

Pork roasts are considered safe if they have been cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. At this temperature, the center of the roast may still be somewhat pink. Pork chops also may have just a trace of pink color at this temperature. Again, the only way to ensure that pork with any pinkness has reached a safe temperature is with a meat thermometer. To ensure safety, casseroles and other combination dishes need to be cooked to 165 degrees F in the center of the dish as measured with a food thermometer. These dishes are traditionally composed of cooked foods and then heated to combine flavors. However, pathogenic bacteria could survive if the meat or poultry component of a casserole was merely "browned" and the casserole was not subsequently heated thoroughly, especially if the dish was assembled in advance and refrigerated. These dishes display no visible signs of doneness. The visual descriptor, "cook until hot and steamy," is difficult to verify. Only by using a food thermometer can you be sure the product has been heated to a safe temperature.

The best part about using a food thermometer is that it takes the guesswork out of cooking. No more cutting into your turkey or beef roast to see if it looks done. Simply place the food thermometer into the food in a couple of places and check the temperature of the food. You'll know if it needs to cook a few minutes more or if it is finished. This is especially helpful with combination dishes such as lasagna or egg casseroles that may brown on top before being heated through. By using a food thermometer on a regular basis, you can be assured that foods are done as well as safe.

For additional food safety information about meat, poultry or eggs, call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (800) 535-4555.

Crusing with Cruse
By Katherine Cruse

Shopping experience fills quota for several years

One thing I like about living in Pagosa is the lack of shopping opportunities. While other people make regular trips to WalMart, or to Farmington, to acquire the things they can't do without, or to save a few bucks, I rejoice that I don't have to make those trips. For me, going to a mall is about as much fun as a toothache. I don't relish the experience. Getting malled is too close to getting mauled.

Last week, during a visit to our son's family in Long Island, I got malled.

It started innocently enough. My daughter-in-law suggested a trip to the local photography studio to record the visit with a grandmother-granddaughter portrait. "Sure," I agreed. Why not? The weather was nasty, wet and cold, and any outdoor activity, like a trip to the park or the petting zoo, was a grim prospect.

Daughter-in-Law said, "I even have a coupon, so we won't have to pay the sitting fee." I'm such a novice at this that I didn't even know there was a sitting fee. My dad was a photographer. In my parents' home all the pictures, even the family vacation snapshots, were professional quality.

Dumb me. I didn't realize that going to the photography studio is, for some families, an annual ritual.

Thousands of people live on Long Island. Tens of thousands. Maybe hundreds of thousands. And a lot of them take their children to the photographer. Every year. Especially every year right before Christmas.

Our visit to the photography studio came up on the spur of the moment. We didn't think it through very carefully, or we'd have gone there right after lunch. Or at least telephoned for an appointment.

Granddaughter Taylor was the smart one. She packed a bag of toys to bring with her. Just in case.

We entered the mall at 3:00 in the afternoon. The anorexic teenager at the counter of the photography studio said they weren't taking walk-ins. "The next appointment is at 4:50. Do you want it?" Well, what the heck. We were already there. Taylor was primed for the experience. We said yes.

We made our way to the place where you rent strollers that look like red fire trucks. For Taylor, the stroller is an important component of mall activity. How can you stroll the mall without a stroller?

From there we wandered through the Disney store, where you can purchase stuffed characters from every movie the Disney studios ever made, from Winnie the Pooh to Pocahontas. They came in all sizes. A version of Mickey Mouse that was taller than Taylor was available. Ditto Minnie.

Or you could get pajamas or jackets or baby layettes or videos. The Mouse has a great marketing ploy for a new movie, Cinderella II, which you won't see in movie theaters. You can order it now, however, sight unseen. You give them the money, and they give you a coupon. It's your responsibility to remember to come back in February and pick up your video.

We browsed a children's clothing store. We went fast up the ramp. We stopped to inspect a clever simulated campfire burning in the window of an outdoor gear store. We bought drinks. We went fast down the ramp.

Somehow the time passed and we returned to the photography studio at our appointed hour. And waited. We watched the young woman photographer move the props - the giant Christmas ball with a hollowed out side for a youngster to sit in, the giant tree lights, a little train engine like the one that hauled the toy train in the story The Little Engine that Could. This engine was just the right size for a small child to sit on.

Our name was called. Jeanine the photographer pulled down the non-holiday backdrop, positioned Taylor and me in a series of set poses, told us to say Cheese or Money or Samma Kamma Wacky Brown, and we were done.

"These will be ready in an hour, or tomorrow," Jeanine said. By now it was 5:30. Since I was leaving the next morning, we did the mall thing for another hour. We strolled the other direction. We looked at party dresses. Taylor liked the blue one best. We held off starvation with a snack.

Back again to the studio. The teenager at the counter said the pictures would be ready "soon." Taylor got out her bag of little people and set herself up in a game that seemed to involve arranging and rearranging them. I looked at all the peripheral merchandise the studio offered.

Buying copies of the portrait is just the beginning, especially at Christmas time. You can buy the special photograph-holding Christmas cards, and insert the photo of your smiling family. You can buy picture frames in all sizes and styles. You can give grandpa a necktie on which the image of the four-year-old is reproduced hundreds of times.

Time passed. We watched young parents tie themselves into knots, trying to convince their 2-year-old son to crawl through an "O" in the giant HoHoHo. And look like it was fun. He was having none of it. He's spied the red and green and yellow and blue train engine, and nothing else would interest him.

They brought out a red wagon and hid the train when he wasn't looking. They held up the giant fake Christmas tree lights. "Ball," said little Jason, and Jeanine snapped the shutter.

Eventually our name was called. We picked the prints we wanted, paid the bill, and headed for the car. It was 7:30. We'd been at the mall for 4 and 1/2 hours.

I'm set for the next 3 years.

Parks and Rec
By Douglas Call

Youth basketball season heats up in Pagosa

The youth basketball season continues with the Youth Basketball Instructional Clinic for all coaches and players Saturday at the junior high gym, 9:30-noon. No registration is necessary. Coaches are invited to bring their teams for fun and to pick up some tips from Coach Shaffer and the Pirate boys varsity basketball team.

Coaches may sign up for Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 2-4 practices by calling the recreation office at 264-4151 ext. 232.

No games are scheduled Dec. 23 through Jan. 6 in observance of winter break. League games will resume Jan. 7 and continue through Jan. 30. Tournament games for the 11-12 age division will begin Feb. 4. Game schedules for January will be available at Town Hall and team practices after Jan. 1.

Adult basketball

The adult basketball program will start this month with open gym held Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 2-4 from 6-8 p.m. in the junior high gym. No preregistration fee is required.

Adult indoor soccer

Adult indoor soccer, open gym, will be held Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 2-4 from 6-8 p.m. in the middle school gym. No preregistration or fee is required.

Hockey lessons

Power skating and skills lessons will be held at the River Center Pond until Jan. 20.

Lessons will be held Monday and Wednesday evenings 5-6:30 and Sunday mornings from 8-9:30. Lessons will not be held Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve. Registration fee for the 13-lesson schedule is $20. Payment can be made at Town Hall or at the River Center Pond. Skaters can rent skates from Summit Ski and Sports and may also bring hockey sticks, but pucks are not needed.

Call the recreation office at 264-4151 ext. 232 with any questions.

Skating lessons

Ice skating lessons will be held at the River Center Pond Thursday evenings from 5-6:30 and Saturday mornings 8-9:30. Lessons begin tonight and run through Jan. 19. Registration for the 10-session clinic is $20. Payment can be made at Town Hall or the River Center Pond. Participants can rent skates at Summit Ski and Sports.

Arts Line
By Nina Durfee

Arts Council presents 12 gift ideas

Don't be stumped for a gift for your loved one. The Pagosa Springs Arts Council has a bounty of gifts to choose from.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Tickets to the Dec. 21 Whistle Pig House concert. The concert will feature Latin music virtuoso duet Correo Aereo - Madeline and Abel Rocha, playing earthy folk music from Argentina, Columbia, and Mexico. There are only 45 seats available. For reservations phone 264-2491 and leave your name and phone number and number of reservations you wish.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

A free and painless way to support the arts council, by signing up at the gallery at Town Park with my City Market Value Card. A percentage of my purchase goes to the Council whenever I shop. Register your Value Card at the gallery to increase benefits to the arts council.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Tole painted boxes to give to parents who have lost their infant in death. Call Rosie Hatchett at 264-6987 for information about "Angel Box Painters," who meet every Tuesday at 2:30.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Flowers from Mountain Greenery. Thanks to Margarite for her donations to arts council exhibits and receptions.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Copies of flyers regarding upcoming events. Thanks to Wells Fargo Bank for sharing their copy machine with the arts council.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Discounts to arts council events by signing me up as a member. Fill out a membership form at the gallery and pay only $20 per year for an individual, or $30 per year for a family.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

A flyer advertising my business in the Petroglyph, the quarterly newsletter of the arts council. Display your flyer by sponsoring the newsletter. Call Jennifer at 731-3113 or Joanne at 264-5020 for details.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

The opportunity to participate in or coordinate a workshop. Call Jennifer at 264-5020 or Clare Burns at 264-6950 for information.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

My photograph on display at Moonlight Books from Feb. 2 to Feb. 23, 2002. Contest is open to all amateur and professional photographers not previously exhibited in Archuleta County. Pick up an entry form at Moonlight Books, Pagosa Photography, Focus and Sound, Mountain Snapshots or at the gallery in Town Park. Entries will be accepted at Moonlight Books until 5 p.m. Jan. 30. Prizes will be awarded in 15 categories. See entry form for a list of categories.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

A date to the opening reception of the Pagosa Springs Arts Council Photograph Contest at Moonlight Books, Feb. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

An application to display my exhibit in 2002. Download an application for your exhibit at PagosaArts.org or call the arts council at 264-5020 to have one mailed to you.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

An opportunity to enjoy the diversity of local arts, art forms and artists by attending periodic events sponsored by the Pagosa Springs Arts Council.

Gallery hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from December through March. The Gallery will close April 1-21. Days and hours of operation will expand from April 22 through October. Call Joanne at 264-5020 to schedule time to volunteer at the gallery.

Library News
By Lenore Bright

Files hold treasure of resource gems

We have information in many nooks and crannies that constantly surprises me. Everyday, one of the staff uncovers a gem. So many books ... so little time is truly my dilemma.

I remember a thought-provoking "Twilight Zone" episode with Burgess Meredith. He wore heavy glasses, and his greatest joy was reading. He lived in New York City. The big bomb went off, and he was the only one left. The show ended with a shot of him crying as he sat on the steps of the New York City Public Library with his shattered glasses.

Back to the point of nooks and crannies and gems. We have two file cabinets full of items that may be checked out. Pamphlets, articles, items that don't fit on the shelves very well. Our volunteers are getting them cataloged and soon you will find reference to them on the computer.

One booklet is entitled "The Moslem World." It is a small work about Islamic art, but it has a very concise and interesting explanation of the peoples of the Moslem faith.

It tells us that "Islam" designates a way of life. It is a mosaic of numerous ethnic groups with various cultural traditions going back into prehistoric times. This particular report gives the chronology starting in 632 with the Orthodox Caliphs. This is truly a very special find. It may be checked out.

There are eight drawers of goodies to look over. Another file is entitled, "National Archives and Records." Here I found several volumes of the "Prologue," the quarterly newsletter from the Archives. It boggles my mind to learn about the many resources we can access when needed. There is now a catalog for all of the microfilm available to the public. The catalog costs $5.00. To order, call (800)234-8861.

The other publication in the same file drawer is "The Record." It continues my litany about the problem of losing important historical documents. It explains that we are dealing with highly fragile media now.

The National Archives was created in 1934 because fires in government offices over the years had destroyed so many documents, including the census records of 1890. Now we must face the "digital gap." This covers the span from the beginning of the computer age until some time in the future when we solve the problems. This gap is equivalent to a records fire. To keep from losing information, they re-copy the records done in digital media every ten years or when they show signs of deterioration. But there are no guarantees that we will have long term access to all of these records.

And there are many more new problems to consider. How do we identify and sort out e-mail of value? How do we authenticate documents and protect their integrity from tampering? Can standards be developed so that archives will have to deal with just a few formats? Can new computer systems be made capable of emulating older systems?

Among the records we safeguard are our national Charters of Freedom - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We want to preserve them forever. But we also must save so much else that citizens of a democratic nation need, and historians want to study. It will be worse than sad if the marvelous technologies that are giving us a new information age outrun our ability to keep a record of it.

Our vertical files of health information give you up-to-date tips on medical breakthroughs. This issue of Johns Hopkins Health After 50 discusses diets for cancer survivors, and reports on soy foods and warns that too much can actually encourage tumor growth. It gives action steps to work through traumatic events, and gives the names of other antibiotics that treat anthrax.

Your library is your very own gift. We are here to fill your information stockings. Whatever you need to know, we'll try to provide the answers. We thank you for your patronage and support. We look forward to serving you in even better ways in 2002.

Volunteers

The library receives a special gift that we want to tell about. We have a group of dedicated volunteers that number more than 30. These men and women provide hours of work that almost add up to a full-time staff person. We could not do without them. I'll be telling you more about each of them in articles to come.

Donations

Thanks for financial help from Jack and Katie Threet, C.D. and Elaine Lundergan. Cecil and Barbara Tackett, Jim and Margaret Wilson in memory of the Ross Brothers, and in honor of Keeley and Nerissa Whittington. Marie Gaudette in memory of Betty Feazel. Thanks to Randy Zimmer for a computer. Thanks for materials from Robert and Judy Garrigues, Richard Harris, Suzi Bryan.

Holiday closings

The Library will be closed Dec. 24 and 25. We will also be closed for inventory and carpet cleaning Dec. 29 and 31, and Jan. 1.

On behalf of all of our board, staff, and volunteers - Happy Holidays.

Shepards Staff
Paster Jim Coats
Pagosa Presbyterian Church

Genuine hope which will not deceive

"Days are dreary unto death which wrap no hope in their misty folds." (George McDonald) "My friends, I do not want you to be ignorant about those who die, or to grieve like others who hope." (St. Paul)

Many years ago, I studied as a chaplain intern at a federal mental health institute for a year. There were two times during the year when a different "spirit" manifested itself among those who were long time residents of the hospital. Christmas and Easter. No matter what the religious convictions of the residents were, no matter whether they even believed in Christ whose coming at Christmas was being celebrated, or the Savior who rose from the dead at Easter, they "hoped." They hoped that this time, this season, something special would happen in their lives. Perhaps they would be released to go home; maybe even healed of their illness. It was a time for miracles, and they hoped. Unfortunately, their hopes seldom were fulfilled.

I wonder how the criminal feels when he or she is sentenced to a life in prison without pardon or parole, without hope. No matter how hardened he or she may be, hopelessness must weigh heavily upon such a person's mind, crushing the spirit within. To realize that their current situation is also their permanent one would be a very heavy burden, a reason for depression. Maybe they have hopes of possible parole, an overturning of their conviction, a shortening of their sentence. How often do their hopes become realities? Probably rarely.

There are many who are not criminals, who are fine citizens, but who are living with that same hopelessness. Each time they find "hope," they discover that they are deceived. They have no foundation for hope, just wishful thinking. They are like children who send a note to the North Pole. On Christmas morning, there is a package for them about the right size. They are excited, but their joy fades and dies when they open the package. I remember a strangely wrapped present with my name on it standing near the Christmas tree one year. I had been hoping for a golf cart. It turned out to be some kind of "clothes butler" on which to hang my clothes upon getting ready for bed. What a disappointment. And I was an adult. I guess that disappointment knows no age group.

I want you to know that there is a genuine hope, which will not deceive you, which will not be the cause of disappointment. Millions of folks have held this hope through the ages. It not only kept them strong in tough times, but it strengthened them for all the tomorrows that were yet to arrive. They put their hope in the faithfulness of God to keep his promises.

They trusted the One who came to earth to secure this hope for those who would believe Him. Through faith in Jesus Christ they were able at all times to rejoice. It made little difference to them what the circumstances of their lives were at any given moment. Even in the face of death, they were comforted by this faith, this hope that they had in the faithfulness of their Lord.

I offer this as the only viable alternative to living "days that are dreary unto death."

Pagosa Lakes News
By Ming Steen

Holidays cause scheduling changes at rec center

Pagosa Lakes residents are cautioned to keep children and dogs away from the lakes. The ice is dangerously thin in areas.

Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center memberships for next year are already on sale. Pick them up now to avoid a January dilemma of needing to use the facility but the Christmas gift buying spree has the family resources depleted.

With the latest snowfall, it's time to bring out the winter snow toys and enjoy, if you have not yet done so. Conditions for skiers and snowboarders are good at Wolf Creek Ski Area. . . as is the case of cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing and sledding anywhere there's plenty of snow (and the activity allowed). I was snowboarding last Sunday and there was so much deep untracked powder. Simply beautiful.

Kimberly Budd, fitness class instructor at the recreation center, had to leave town immediately last weekend to attend to a family emergency. Her evening fitness classes will resume on Wednesday, Jan. 2. She apologizes for the inconvenience, and the interruption for those who had hoped to stay active through the holiday season.

Congratulations to Es Berrich and Troy Condon on winning the mixed doubles in Santa Fe last weekend where they competed in the Toys-For-Tots Racquetball Tournament. As its name implied, the tournament was a fundraiser to benefit underprivileged children (and a fun-raiser for privileged adults). Playing in his second racquetball tournament ever, Troy did remarkably well. Troy started playing racquetball in April and with consistent practice and lots of league games with local players, he's become a rather formidable competitor. Es, as you all know, is our local racquetball power-house. In addition to winning the doubles matches, Es placed first in the men's "B."

Racquetball challenge night (Wednesday) at the recreation center is on hold for the busy holiday season when the facility is crowded with visiting timeshare owners. The players will meet again in January (date to be announced). In addition to the regularly scheduled Wednesday evening challenge, efforts are being made to encourage and promote racquetball among intermediate and beginner players. The recreation center is maintaining a list of names. Please call if you are interested, with your name, phone number and skill level.

Please be reminded that the Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center will be closed at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and all day Christmas day. The PLPOA administrative office will close at noon on Christmas eve, all day Christmas day and reopen on Wednesday - as will the recreation center.

I've been to some really marvelous Christmas parties recently. I indulge in a big way, without eliminating second helpings and light-calorie foods. I do have my list of tips for holiday eating and I share it eagerly. But gracious, don't expect me to follow it. I love my food and after all it's only 12 more days before New Year's. Eat up; keep up the mileage on the treadmill.

In Sync With Isabel
by Isabel Willis

Financial exploitation poses threat for at-risk people

How many people in our community have ever heard of financial exploitation? Of those people, how many know what it really means, what their rights are and who to turn to if they think they are being exploited?

Financial exploitation means the illegal or improper use of an at-risk adult's resources for another person's profit or advantage.

We recently informed you about identity theft and preventive ways to protect yourself. Financial exploitation is yet another concern, especially to the elderly and "at-risk" adult population. Most people know that an elderly person is someone 60 years old; an adult is an individual 18 years of age or older who is susceptible to mistreatment or neglect because the individual is unable to perform or obtain services necessary for the individual's health, safety or welfare or one who lacks sufficient understanding or the capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning the individual's person or affairs.

Adult abuse is a growing concern in the United States. There are over 4,600 reports of adult abuse each year in Colorado alone, approximately 70 percent involve someone over 60 years of age and another 16 percent involve financial exploitation.

Who would do this?, you may ask. More than two-thirds of abusers are family members, followed by service providers/caregivers, friends and neighbors or strangers soliciting fraudulent schemes.

There are many different warning signs to look out for. A few are as follows:

€ Sudden changes in bank account activity or banking practices; unexplained withdrawals, abrupt changes to financial documents or wills

€ Sudden appearance of previously uninvolved relatives or persons claiming a right to the at-risk adult's affairs and possessions; and unexplained, sudden transfers of assets to these individuals

€ Frequent unpaid bills or utilities being shut off due to non-payment, when someone is suppose to be paying them for the elder or at-risk person

€ Recent acquaintances overly expressing affection to a wealthy at-risk adult and never leaving them alone

€ A caretaker promising to take care of the at-risk adult for the rest of their life in exchange for willing or deeding property to the caregiver.

These are just a few of the tactics used to exploit an at-risk adult. There are also many schemes from telemarketers and salespersons that need to be examined.

There are ways of protecting yourself from financial exploitation:

€ Don't sign anything you don't understand

€ Don't give personal or financial information over the telephone unless you know who you are talking to. Ask for references or identification

€ Be careful of high-pressure sales tactics, offers that sound too good to be true usually are too good to be true

€ Consider putting special protection clauses into your power of attorney or nominating co-conservators or co-guardians so more than one person will know your personal affairs and will notice if someone is trying to take financial advantage of you.

Again, these are just a few ways of protecting yourself or someone you care about. It is important to remember that financial exploitation is a crime and has serious consequences. At-risk adults have rights and need honest caring people to assist them to prevent this crime from happening. There are different ways to get help and information. If you, or someone you know is possibly being exploited, contact your local Department of Social Services and ask to speak to the adult protection caseworker. They will investigate the situation and, if appropriate, offer protective services.

Veterans Corner
by Andy Fautheree, VSO

Specialty license plates display veteran pride

A very Merry Christmas to all the veterans of Archuleta County.

As our nation marches off to the "War On Terrorism" many of our local veterans would like to proudly display their contribution to America's military past. One way of doing this is to obtain special veterans' license plates for their vehicles.

Thanks to local veteran retired Maj. Donald Bartlett, I was reminded of this benefit to our veterans. Most of the time the veteran himself obtains honorable discharge veteran plates, so I don't get involved very often. But since I am always in the learning process regarding veterans' benefits, Maj. Bartlett and I went together to the Archuleta County Clerk's office and spoke to June Madrid to learn more about this Colorado service. She was very informative and knew all the answers.

There are quite a few Colorado veteran license plates available, including Air Force 50th Anniversary commemorative, Medal of Honor, National Guard, Naval Reserve, U.S. Marine Corps, Vietnam Veterans, Honorable Discharge, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Prisoner of War, Purple Heart, and last but not least, Disabled Veteran.

Some of these plates fall into what might be called "vanity plates" and do carry a premium fee in addition to the regular vehicle license fee. I will try to cover each plate and what is required to obtain that plate and any applicable fees. Generally speaking these plates are for passenger-type vehicles and light trucks, recreational vehicles, not exceeding certain weight limits. Also, the plates remain with the veteran and do not transfer with a vehicle if it changes ownership. Multiple vehicles owned by the same veteran could each have a set of veteran plates.

Honorable Discharge Veteran plates may be issued to vehicles owned or leased by individuals who have served in any branch of the U.S. Armed Services, including Coast Guard or Merchant Marine, and have received an Honorable Discharge. Documentation of proof can be the DD214 discharge paper, notice of separation, or Honorable Discharge framing certificate. Fees include $10 in addition to regular registration fee for the first year, $10 replacement, $2 transfer to another vehicle.

Vietnam Veterans-plates may be issued to vehicles owned or leased. A copy of DD214 (uniform military separation form) or active military ID required. Vietnam service is recognized as active duty in the military from Feb. 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975. Fees include $35 in addition to regular registration fee for the first year, $10 replacement, $2 transfer to another vehicle.

U.S. Marine Corps plates may be issued to vehicles owned or leased by individuals who are active or retired from the Marine Corps. A copy of DD214 or active military ID is required. Fees include $35 in addition to regular registration fee for the first year, $10 replacement, $2 transfer to another vehicle.

National Guard plates may be issued to only one vehicle owned or leased by an individual who is an active or retired member of the Colorado National Guard. A form DR2226 with authenticating officer signature is required (also for active member annual renewals). Fees include $10 first year, $10 replacement, $2 transfer to another vehicle.

Naval Reserve plates may be issued to vehicles owned or leased by individuals who are members of the U.S. Naval Reserve and have their Naval Reserve card. Fees include $35 in addition to regular registration fee for the first year, $10 replacement, $2 transfer to another vehicle.

Air Force 50th Anniversary Commemorative plates commemorate the 50th Anniversary (1947-1997) of the U.S. Air Force. Fees include $35 in addition to regular registration fee for the first year, $5 replacement, $2 transfer to another vehicle.

Next week I will continue discussion of Colorado veterans' license plates.

For information on these and other veteran benefits please call or stop by the Veterans' Service Office located on the lower floor of the Archuleta County Courthouse. An active Internet website for Archuleta County Veterans Service Office can be found at www.geocities.com/vso_archuleta. The office number is 264-2304, the FAX number is 264-5949, and e-mail is vsoarch@pagosa.net. The office is open from 8 to 4, Monday through Thursday, and Friday by appointment. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for registration with the county, application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.

Business News

Biz Beat

May Medina and Dina Zellner own and operate The Hair Shoppe which opened last week in the River Center on the east end of downtown Pagosa Springs.

Women, men and children are welcome at The Hair Shoppe, a full service hair salon offering cuts, perms, colors and highlights.

May and Dina have more than 33 years experience between them and offer service by appointment at this conveniently located salon.

Call 264-2270 for an appointment.

People

Haag Engagement

Robert Haag and the late JoAnn Haag of Pagosa Springs are happy to announce the engagement of their daughter Jody Ann Haag to Jeffrey Robert Legreca, son of Carl and Rosalie Legreca. The couple currently resides in Las Vegas and will marry this summer at a private ceremony in Nevada.

Cunningham Wedding

Kim Norine Crews to Matthew Dawson Cunningham

John M. and Vicki L. Motter of Pagosa Springs, and Dennis Cunningham of Newport Beach, Calif., announce the marriage of their son Matthew Dawson Cunningham to Kim Norine Crews of Alpharetta, Ga.

The ceremonies took place Nov. 10, 2001, at the Mountain Valley Wedding Chapel in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Kim is the daughter of Ronald Minard and the late Nancy Benge, both of Indiana. Matthew is the grandson of Barbara Waters and the brother of Holly Everett, both of Pagosa Springs.

Also attending the wedding were Kim's brothers Jim, Brad, and Jeff Minard and their families, and Matthew's brother Scott Cunningham. Kim's sons participated in the ceremonies. Nicholas, 9, walked his mother down the aisle and Benjamin, 6, was the ring bearer. Matthew's children, Sarah, 6, and Caleb, 4, live in Denver.

Following the ceremony, guests attended a luncheon in Gatlinburg, Tenn. After honeymooning in the mountains of Tennessee, the couple will live in Alpharetta.