Front Page

December 27, 2001

All Wolf Creek roadwork to be suspended Monday

Effective Monday, Dec. 31, all highway construction on U.S. 160 over Wolf Creek Pass will be suspended for the winter.

Colorado Department of Transportation said there are currently no closures, day or night, on the pass and there will be none during the current holiday period.

Construction of the 950-foot tunnel east of the summit and reconstruction of the highway west of the summit will resume in the spring of 2002 when weather permits.

CDOT said it will notify the public and media in advance of future construction schedules and traffic impacts.

PAWS gropes for solutions to growth demand

By John M. Motter

The search for answers to a growing demand for water and sewer services has the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District board of directors scratching their heads.

Everyone with a family budget, or anyone serving on boards for the various districts in the community is familiar with the question: What is an equitable method of raising money to pay for meeting the growing demand?

Paws is a conglomerate of three public entities which have, in the past, served the water and sewer needs of Pagosa-area citizens.

When the subdivisions west of town collectively known as Fairfield Pagosa first began to form circa 1970, PAWS was organized to provide water and sewage services for the core area subdivisions. At that time a second entity operated by Pagosa Springs had been serving its citizens for decades. As people built homes around, but outside of, Pagosa Springs, a third entity known as the Archuleta Water Company formed to serve the needs of that population block.

In subsequent years, PAWS acquired the water provision responsibilities of Pagosa Springs and the Archuleta Water Company. Pagosa Springs' sewage collection and treatment entity, the Pagosa Springs Sanitation District, remains separate.

When it acquired the water supply responsibilities of the town and AWC, PAWS also acquired the rate structure and rules of the other entities.

Since uniting the three entities, PAWS has grappled with meeting the needs of one of the fastest growing areas in Colorado. The growth includes the addition of newly subdivided property to PAWS' existing area plus new construction within existing PAWS boundaries.

PAWS derives revenue from four sources: monthly water and sewer bills from subscribers called service fees, property taxes, a variety of user fees, and bonded indebtedness.

Complicating the budget process is the condition that an underlying theme of fairness must be addressed when decisions are made as to which sources of income are applied to which expense. Another question is: Should users who have already coughed up an assortment of fees to pay for existing facilities have to pay again when new growth requires expansion of existing facilities or the construction of new facilities?

PAWS' current fee structure is so complex, it needs to be restructured. The PAWS board has recognized that need. In its search for answers, PAWS has agreed to listen to the advice of a citizens' advisory committee currently being formed. The PAWS board has scheduled a special meeting Jan. 8 at 6:30 p.m. to begin formation of the committee. A second meeting will be conducted at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 15 when integration of the committee and steps toward finding solutions will take place. Both meetings will be conducted in the PAWS Vista business office complex on Lyn Avenue.

Currently, service fees, the monthly fees paid by users of water and sewage services, pay operating costs. Some amount left over from operating costs is applied to capital investment.

A portion of property tax income is devoted to debt retirement. Property tax income also enters the general fund, may be used for capital projects, or may be diverted to the enterprise fund. State law limits the amount of property tax revenue that may be diverted to the enterprise fund.

Availability fees are charged on all vacant lots within the district. The theory behind availability fees is they ensure that PAWS will provide water or sewer services, as applicable, when the demand arises. When a building is erected and service fees charged, the availability fee ends.

Inclusion fees are charged when property not within PAWS boundaries is added, or included, within district boundaries. These fees constitute a sort of buy-in to the existing system.

A facilities upgrade fee has been charged for all areas included since 1983. This is an impact fee with the purpose of requiring the new addition to pay for its portion of new impact it creates on the system.

A tap fee, or hook-up fee, is levied at the time a connection is made. The tap fee is limited to the actual cost of the connection.

PAWS recently attempted to implement a capital improvements fee to replace the facilities upgrade fee. The capital improvements fee is also an impact fee with the purpose of requiring growth to pay for itself. Its major difference from the facilities upgrade fee is that it applies to all new construction, not just areas included since 1983. As such, it is broader-based than the facilities upgrade fee. As proposed, the capital improvements fee would be based on square footage instead of the equivalent unit basis of the facilities upgrade fee.

The attempt to implement the capital improvement fee was protested by a number of local builders and realtors. Questions stemming from that protest revolve around defining growth and the equitable distribution of costs between existing customers and new growth.

Town budget steady at $3.6 million for 2002

By Tess Noel Baker

The Town of Pagosa Springs will ride into 2002 on the reins of a budget that holds steady against last year's numbers.

The Pagosa Springs Board of Trustees approved the $3.6 million 2002 budget in December. On the revenue side, the mill levy will remain at 1.68 for a second year, down from 1.763 in 2000. Total assessed valuation increased by $228,035 for 2002 to $29,321,291, meaning a mighty jump of $383 in property tax collections for the town.

A one-percent increase was estimated on sales tax receipts, Town Administrator Jay Harrington said, a conservative number based on predictions for the economy. With the estimated increase, the town's sales tax revenues are expected to produce about $2.5 million.

The expense side shows a slightly less demanding capital improvement schedule, dropping from $1.4 to about $1.2 million in 2002, after the completion of the new town hall.

The heavy capital improvement load in 2001 depleted reserves slightly below optimum levels to around $450,000, Harrington said. Over the course of 2002, the plan is to build those back up by $50,000-$100,000 so the town again has enough in reserves to cover three months of operating expenses.

The major item in 2002 capital improvements is the old town hall - or newly named Gateway Park - project to create additional parking, public restrooms and green space at the corner of Lewis and Pagosa streets. Harrington said a total of $220,000 is budgeted for the project which should cover the entire cost. However, the town is applying for a $100,000 grant to alleviate some of that expense.

Another $220,000 has been budgeted to add curb and gutter and improve drainage on Hot Springs Boulevard from the post office to the Chamber of Commerce, a portion of a bigger project that includes sidewalks all the way to Town Hall.

Street paving projects - in locations still to be determined - take up another $160,000. Also included in the capital improvement plan are new trucks for the park department and street department, furnishings for town hall, matching funds for the Light Plant Road paving project, curb cuts and $95,000 for operations at the new Pagosa Springs Community Center.

One hundred thousand dollars remains in the budget for improvements on North and South Pagosa Boulevard in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Transportation, but it's unlikely to be used, Harrington said.

In other departments, the police budget is up slightly over 2001 - from $373,237 to $424,573 - to provide for a new car and radar at $28,000 and computer software costing $35,000. The administrative budget is up from $78,713 to $111,198 mostly to accommodate a new intern set to start at the end of January. The internship is a state program meant to assist graduate students in public administration. Half the salary is paid through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

Other departmental budgets include: parks $144,320; recreation $310,588; street $507,432; geothermal $36,639; building and planning $130,580; service funds $37,850; and court $144,109.

The town has been approved to receive a state grant of $25,000 for the municipal courts, the balance of a Colorado Department of Transportation air quality grant to cover Light Plant Road reconstruction totaling $260,000, historical grants of $14,850, and police computer and Vale grants of $32,700.

Deposits in county banks near $120 million

By Richard Walter

The economy's in a nose dive, right? Business is slack, economists are naysaying our recovery and job layoffs are more and more common.

Pagosa Springs, however, seems to have an economic surge that is the antithesis of what is happening nationally.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), in figures as of June 30, 2001, showed bank deposits in Pagosa Springs' commercial banks and savings institutions were up better than $8.4 million compared to the same date in 2000.

The totals for deposits on record in all county financial institutions showed $119,165 million this year compared to $110,743 million in 2000.

Overall, the 2000 total for all financial institutions was down from $117.074 million the previous year, but the decline was more than made up with new deposits on file this year.

That means an increase of better than $2.1 million in local deposits in the 48-month period ending June 30 this year.

It must be remembered that the figures were coming prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, but the funds on deposit show a remarkable surge in local economy.

Six financial institutions are included in the summary.

Bank of Colorado, formerly The Burns National Branch of Durango, showed deposits on the cutoff date this year of $8.896 million compared to $7.418 million the previous year. The total, however, was down from the $10.879 million on the same target date in 1999.

Bank of the San Juans, a new Pagosa facility in 2000, showed a deposit increase for $16.524 million in 2000 to $37.622 million this year. By branch, the total was up from 6.243 million at the Talisman site to $8.128 million, and up at the downtown site from $26..211 million in 2000 to $29.494 million this year. The two-office total for Citizens in 1999 was $34.392 million.

At Rio Grande Savings and Loan , deposits increased from $10.331 million in 2000 to $11.693 million this year. The total was down each year from the $12.689 million recorded in 1999. Vectra Bank depositors had $9.224 million on deposit this year compared to $7.797 in 2000 and $11.757 million in 1999.

Wells Fargo Bank, with two branches, showed deposits of $34.506 million this year compared to $34.382 million last year. Broken down by branch, the listings were $3.385 million this year as compared to $3.073 million last year at the Village Drive location and $31.121 million for the downtown site, a decrease from the $31.209 million on deposit last year. In 1999, when Wells Fargo's predecessor locally was Norwest Bank Colorado, the total two-branch deposit was $46.573 million.

Those totals indicate an economic spotlight shining brightly for Pagosa Country on financial reserves more healthy than they've ever been.

La Plata Electric hikes residential rates 10%

by: Richard Walter

Effective date will be March 1

It was only a matter of time and the time has arrived.

La Plata Electric Association announced last week it is increasing local rates for electrical service an average seven percent to all rate classes for bills calculated after March 1, 2002.

Rising wholesale electricity costs made the utility rate hike inevitable. Tri-State Generation and Transmission, LPEA's power supplier, had announced on Nov. 15 its intent to increase costs to member utilities by 10 percent.

While the local increase will average seven percent with all rate classes considered, residential rates, small commercial, irrigation, street lighting and other rates will go up 10 percent.

LPEA said the average residential customer paid $51.80 per month in the year 2000. The rate hike will increase that same bill approximately $5.18 per month, to $56.18. Different rate classes will receive different percentages of the increase because of the widely varying costs LPEA incurs to serve these classes.

The increase brings Tri-State's wholesale rate to approximately 3.9 cents per kilowatt-hour and marks the company's first rate increase in 16 years. During those years, Tri-State had actually implemented reductions totaling 23 percent. Thus, the new average rate is still significantly lower than what the association was charging in 1986 - approximately 4.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The new rates from Tri-State will increase LPEA's purchased power costs by approximately $3.5 million per year, prompting the LPEA board to approve its first rate increase in 10 years.

Editorials

Resolve to be involved

The new year promises to be interesting for the residents of Archuleta County. The economy, local politics, the health and effective operation of tax-supported entities, the controversial topic of growth management - all will take the spotlight, all will demand our attention.

The current holiday will be revealing as far as the local economy goes: it represents one of the traditional, active tourist seasons of the year. Tourist-generated revenues are one of the pillars of our economy; in good years revenues during the Christmas and New Year's holiday break are significant. There is snow in the high country, the conditions needed for an excellent season are present, but are people traveling this year? If they are, are they spending like they have the last few years? Soon, we can assess the results, then speculate on what the spring break and summer seasons hold in store.

Local politics will heat up next year with several races and issues due to take center stage in special, primary and general elections this spring, summer and fall. A re-energized Archuleta County Democratic Party should add spice to the mix. A strong two-party situation has been missing in recent years. Tension between viable alternatives is necessary for a productive political environment and there is potential for exciting dialogue and debate.

Two local governmental entities welcome new managers as the year begins. Archuleta County will, at last, have a county administrator on board: a professional who, with but a modicum of wisdom on the part of the commissioners, will be allowed to do what he is trained to do, and what they are not.

The Upper San Juan Hospital District will bring a new manager aboard to take the helm. She comes into a situation still murky and marked by recent financial and organizational problems. Despite a voter-approved infusion of money the district, with its several divisions, is still in need of fine-tuning.

School District 50 Joint will move into its first complete year with new top-level administration. The district has been buffeted by conflicting ideas levied by politicians at both the local and state levels. By the end of the year, whatever success comes of the course charted to negotiate the contrary waters should be obvious.

The topic of growth is critical as we enter the new year. The County Plan awaits implementation, with scant pressure from the county commission to move forward, and growing discontent among some groups and individuals concerning the hesitation. Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District has been dragged into the real world in light of a proposed impact fee, facing criticism from constituents and some members of the local business community.

It will be encouraging if, somehow, some way, all entities in a position to deal with growth can find an effective compromise during the next year, cleaving to a mean that takes two points as its referents: first, that growth is inevitable and, second, that the desire to relocate to and build in Archuleta County is predicated on a definable ambiance, on a recognizable aesthetic and environmental quality that, if destroyed, will promote a multi-faceted problem.

Without reasonable management growth will, paradoxically, kill the golden goose for builders, for suppliers, for developers, for those in the real estate industry. With foresight, we can define restraints that keep Pagosa desirable and our local industries profitable. We cannot allow a laissez faire approach to destroy our foundation and we should not over-regulate our potential for prosperity.

Perhaps one other change will take place during the new year. For too long, local political and policy decisions have been made against the background of a general indifference fueled by easy economic circumstances. This new year offers all of us the opportunity to become involved with the processes that affect our future - political, economic, environmental, educational. Each of us needs to resolve to be involved, to make our opinions known, to vote, to cooperate, to care. To help make the next year a great year in Pagosa Country.

Karl Isberg

Legacies

By Shari Pierce

91 years ago

Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era of December 23, 1910

The Pagosa Women's Club has a fine lot of home-made candies on display in the courthouse window. The candy is for sale, the proceeds to go to swelling the public library fund. Buy a box of it for your best girl - it will please her immensely.

Beavers are said to be quite plentiful again in Archuleta County, particularly along the San Juan.

About thirty citizens met at the courthouse Thursday night to reorganize the commercial club.

Some of Pagosa's secret society lodges are again taking up the question of building a lodge hall. Undoubtedly the time will come soon when several of the lodges will be minus a meeting place unless they prepare against that contingency.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 31, 1926

The parties who have enjoyed the free dances at the Patrick Hotel the past year presented Mr. and Mrs. Patrick with a handsome album on Christmas as a mark of appreciation.

J.S. Brown and C.H. Freeman came in from the west last Friday with 120 head of fine steers, which are now being fed at the Brown ranch.

M.A. Patrick will erect a new hotel building next spring, which will add twelve commodious rooms to his hotel.

Patrick & Halstead have built a first-class ice house for Freeman & Deller. An unusually heavy crop of ice will be harvested this season.

Mrs. M.J. Ewell made many a heart glad at Christmas by distributing useful articles as Christmas presents to needy ones.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 28, 1951

A good job well done this year by Postmaster Dick DeVore and his crew. This has been one of the worst years ever from the standpoint of mail service with the westbound mail not getting here until after quitting time in the evening once in a while and the eastbound mail often getting here in the middle of the night. This condition was brought about bad weather and late trains.

This issue of the SUN marks the end of 1951 and the start of 1952 and for the next six weeks everyone will go on writing 1951 as in the past. Resolutions will be made an some of them kept. Improvements to the town and county will take place and many changes will be recorded.

The weatherman obliged with a white Christmas for the San Juan Basin this year.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 23, 1976

This December may well go on record as being one of the driest for many years. The ground is bare in town, and is also bare at much higher altitudes, except for spots back in the trees and various shaded areas. Santa Claus will have to make his run this year in something other than a sleigh.

The school board has set the date of March 29 for an upcoming bond election. The election is being called to authorize bonding for the construction of a proposed new high school. The present facilities are very much overcrowded and it has been necessary to use other buildings around town for some of the school activities.

The planning commission held a public hearing Monday night on the proposed application for a federal grant to finance a sanitary landfill within the county.

Inside The Sun

Couty names Clifford Lucero interim road and bridge chief

By John M. Motter

Clifford Lucero has been named temporary superintendent of the county road and bridge department.

Lucero's appointment fills a vacancy created when former road and bridge superintendent Kevin Walters resigned effective Dec. 21. Walters has accepted employment with the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Lucero's appointment took place at the meeting of county commissioners Dec. 18.

"I'll help the county any way I can," Lucero said. "Be road and bridge superintendent? No. I will help for a month or so. That (department) is a good, well-functioning machine."

Commissioner Alden Ecker is the Board of County Commissioners' liaison for the road and bridge department.

"I met with Kevin and the others yesterday," Ecker said. "I was concerned that everything continue to run smoothly. I'm convinced that (road and bridge foremen) know everything that is going on. I'm concerned about the files, who will take care of them. I understand Clifford does not want to do this. At an earlier meeting, I had the impression he might do it for six months or a year."

Lucero also supervises the county solid waste department.

"The road and bridge department is not as busy during the winter," Lucero said. "A little snow removal, some small projects. There needs to be somebody out there. I could probably do that along with my solid waste requirements. My experience is by March or April we need some bid packages put together, things could be hectic. You need a full-time supervisor then and I wouldn't have the time."

Archuleta County has advertised for a replacement for Walters and expects to fill the vacancy within a couple of months or so. The advertised salary range is from $40,000 to $45,000 depending on qualifications.

The road and bridge department has an annual maintenance and operations budget of $2,075,237, in addition to a 2002 beginning fund balance of $1,476,248. Associated with road and bridge is a capital improvements budget of $1,336,948 in addition to a 2002 beginning fund balance of $2,172,266.

Lucero assumes his temporary duties Jan. 6.

Farmers, ranchers face profit squeeze

By Richard Walter

Low prices, tight markets and reduced yields due to extreme climactic conditions will squeeze profit margins for some producers to the point where funding needed to produce next year's crop will be difficult to obtain. As a result, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the availability of operating loans for eligible farmers and ranchers to secure next spring's planting needs.

FSA provides low interest loans to qualified farmers and ranchers unable to obtain credit from commercial sources. An operating loan may be issued directly from FSA or in the form of a guaranteed loan secured by the government but funded by a conventional agriculture leader.

"The basis of our loan program is to provide temporary credit to those who can demonstrate both need and repayment ability," said Rick Cervenka, Farm Loan Manager. "Our goal is to help farmers so that they will be able to obtain credit from private lenders when they are financially able."

Operating loans are used to purchase supplies and inputs for farming enterprises. Input items may include seed, fertilizer, feed and equipment. Financing may also be used to pay for minor improvements to buildings and to refinance debt under certain conditions.

"Credit is usually extended to established farmers who have suffered financial setbacks because of economic downturns or natural disasters," said Cervenka. "Farmers who do not qualify for conventional loans because of insufficient net worth are also eligible for the program."

U.S. citizens operating a family farm are eligible for a loan if they are unable to obtain credit from a financial institution, have the ability to incur debt, can demonstrate ability to repay the loan, and are not delinquent on any federal debt.

"FSA doesn't just disburse loans," added Cervenka. "We help our customers manage their finances by providing credit counseling and supervision through required farm and financial training courses."

Direct operating loans can be made for up to $200,000 and FSA can guarantee loans up to $759,000. The repayment terms may vary, but typically will not exceed seven years for livestock and equipment. Crop funds are generally repaid within 12 months or when the commodities are sold.

Producers needing additional information about operating loans should contact their local FSA Farm Loan Office in Cortez at (970) 565-8879 ext. 107.

Economist sees state outperforming the nation

Despite layoffs and dampened consumer confidence, the Colorado economy will continue to grow in 2002, although at a slower pace than during the 1990s, according to CU-Boulder economist Richard Wobbekind.

"We are optimistic about the economy turning around by mid-year and finishing strong in 2002," said Wobbekind, director of the Business Research Division at the Leeds School of Business. But the prior accumulation of layoffs and decreased in-migration to the state will constrain economic growth, especially during the first half of the year, he said. "I am confident that Colorado's economy will continue to outperform the nation's."

As in the past, the services sector will be the leading sector in terms of growth, adding 12,700 jobs in 2002. "The services sector was hit hard this past year and the effect will continue in 2002," Wobbekind said. "Areas that were hit hardest were tourism-related subsectors such as hotels and lodging. Business services also took a big hit as demand for outsourcing suffered as a result of the slowdown in manufacturing and telecommunications."

Average unemployment is expected to increase from 3.4 percent in 2001 to 4.2 percent in 2002. "Although the rate is above what we have become accustomed to, we will remain below the unemployment rate for the U.S.," Wobbekind said. "Colorado has a well-educated and versatile workforce. Fortunately many of our state's workers have job skills that are highly transferable. The positive side of the slowdown is that it will reduce wage pressures and allow companies to be more selective in hiring."

Wobbekind's annual economic forecast was delivered at Denver's Brown Palace Hotel on Dec. 17. His presentation was followed by a Q and A session featuring the state's top economists and a keynote presentation titled "The Future of Travel" by Bill Hannigan, president, chairman and CEO of Sabre. The program concluded with a series of industry discussion sessions on the following topics:

energy and security

population, labor force and personal income

effects of growth on city and county sustainability

betting on biotech

Sector-specific highlights include:

Employment - The goods-producing sectors of the economy will remain stagnant or decline in 2002. These declines will be offset by growth in service-producing sectors. All service-producing sectors are expected to increase in 2002 except transportation, communications and public utilities. In 2002, 10,500 new jobs are expected to be added overall

Agriculture - Uncertainty overlies the agriculture sector. A decline in exports has resulted from softening economies among the United States' major trading partners, combined with international concern over livestock diseases. For most of Colorado's major commodities, growth is not expected in 2002

Oil, gas and mining - The oil, gas and mining sector is expected to experience strong growth in 2001, leveling out at 13,600 employees in 2002. Growth will occur in coal and natural gas production while declines are expected in crude oil and carbon dioxide

Construction - The curtailing of activity in 2002 will result in a drop in the average employment level to 153,000 workers, a 6.1 percent decline from the average during 2001. While not a trivial adjustment, this will still place the 2002 job level above that for 1999 and earlier years.

Manufacturing - The manufacturing sector failed to recover in 2001. Following a 1.4 percent decline in employment in 1999, the sector added 1,000 jobs in 2000 to record a 0.5 percent growth rate. However, deterioration in national and international economic conditions in 2001 made employment expansion impossible. The manufacturing sector will lose 4,700 jobs in 2001, the largest decline in employment since 1991. Sector performance is expected to improve in 2002, but will still suffer some additional job loss

Transportation, communications and public utilities - Slower economic conditions have hurt the transportation, communications and public utilities sector. The telecommunications boom of the 1990s has fizzled, and the air and trucking subsectors also have experienced a downturn. This situation has been exacerbated by the events of Sept. 11. Employment is estimated to be 138,900 in 2001, down 4.3 percent from 145,200 in 2000. This loss of 6,300 jobs in 2001 represents the largest recorded decrease for the sector. More job losses in the telecommunications and transportation subsectors are anticipated in 2002, while other subsectors are expected to see only modest changes in employment

Finance, insurance and real estate - The finance, insurance and real estate sector accounted for only 6.3 percent of total Colorado employment in 2000, but contributed 8.9 percent of total wages. In 2001 the sector was the sixth largest, moving ahead of the transportation, communications and public utilities sector. Overall, sector employment has been stagnant but employment during 2002 is expected to increase moderately by 1.4 percent or 2,000 jobs

Wholesale trade and retail trade - the trade sector will continue to be a driver of the economy in 2002, adding 5,400 jobs, an increase of one percent. This lower rate of growth is a function of decreased consumer confidence and lower in-migration. Retail trade sales are projected to increase in 2002 by 3.9 percent

Services - Employment growth in the services sector has been strong over the past decade as total sector growth has increased at an annualized rate of 4.8 percent. The stock market bubble has burst, high-tech businesses are laying off employees and tourism has been devastated, which has resulted in much slower growth particularly in business and software services. This services sector is expected to add 12,700 jobs in 2002 or an increase of 1.8 percent.

Tourism, outdoor recreation and conventions - The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 have negatively impacted tourism, both nationally and in Colorado. The tourism industry will recover slowly throughout 2002. However, overall activity in tourism is not anticipated to reach prior highs until 2003

Government - For the past 10 years, government employment grew 2.1 percent, well below the Colorado annual average. Growth in the government sector will increase by 1.6 percent in 2002, driven by an increase in local government employment

International trade - The global economic downturn, evident throughout the first eight months of 2001, was compounded by the events of Sept. 11. Total Colorado exports are expected to remain flat at $6.4 billion in 2002. Agricultural exports, while facing uncertainty, may provide a bright spot in 2002.

 

Countywide building permits down for first 11 months

By John M. Motter

The number of building permits issued by the Archuleta County Building Department from Jan. 1 through Nov. 30 of this year total 460, down from the 482 permits issued last year during the same span of months.

Starting with 1995, the number of county permits issued for the first 11 months of the year are: 1995-479; 1996-423; 1997-408; 1998-457; 1999-483; 2000-482; 2001-460.

The comparison between this year and last year may be deceiving, according to Julie Rodriguez of the county planning office. Her reasoning is based on a late rush for permits last year by builders who feared pending growth-limiting legislation by the state. The legislation did not happen, but the number of precautionary permits ballooned last year's total.

Single family residence permits top the list this year as they have done locally every other year of record. This year, through November, 275 single family residence permits have been issued. Last year through November, 304 single family residence permits were issued.

The number of mobile home permits issued this year is down from last year. Last year, 57 mobile home permits were issued through November. This year, through November, 45 mobile home permits had been issued.

The category "other" includes construction projects requiring a permit, but not normally entailing construction of a complete home. Such projects could include a new porch, patio, garage, or other major addition or reconstruction. This year, through November, 133 other permits were issued. Last year, 103 other permits were issued.

Only seven commercial building permits have been issued this year, compared with 11 commercial permits the previous year.

Timeshares are the final classification used by the building department. This year, no timeshare permits were issued. Last year seven timeshare permits were issued.

If one assumes that a building has been erected for every building permit issued over the past five years, 1,222 single family residences were constructed in Archuleta County during that time.

Once a year, during January, the building department releases a report giving the average cost of each new single family residence, an estimate the builder must provide when obtaining a permit. Last year, the estimated cost of each single family residence was in the neighborhood of $200,000.

County Building Permit Summary Nov. 30, 1997-Nov. 30, 2001

Total Permits

500

480

xx

xx

460

xx

xx

440

420

400

xx

380

360

year 1997

year 1998

year 1999

year 2000

year 2001

Commissioners certify special district mill levies

By John M. Motter

Mill levies for the 18 taxing entities in Archuleta County were certified by the Board of County Commissioners while meeting in regular session Dec. 18.

The act of certification by the commissioners conforms with state law, but has nothing to do with setting taxable values, the mill levy, or budgets for any entity other than the county government. The county commissioners have no authority over any of the other taxing entities. Nevertheless, state law requires the commissioners to certify each entity's property valuation, mill levy, and income from the mill levy.

Assessed valuations are calculated by the county assessor. Tax rates in mill levies are set by the directors of each taxing entity. Income from property taxes is the product of the relation between tax rate and assessed valuation.

The results certified by the commissioners are forwarded to the Colorado Division of Property Taxation, Department of Local Affairs, in Denver.

Revenues from property taxes for the coming year from all the taxing entities within the county are estimated at almost $11 million, based on a total valuation of $1.35 billion.

School districts receive the largest amount of tax dollars in the county, about $5.2 million. Archuleta County has all or parts of three school districts within its boundaries. The largest is School District 50Jt. with schools in Pagosa Springs. School District 50Jt. has an assessed valuation of $167,011,720 producing revenue of $5,077,157. The district's total tax levy is 30.4 mills, the highest rate in the county.

Two school districts overlap a small portion of the western side of the county. School District 11Jt has schools in Ignacio in La Plata County. A portion of School District 11Jt. extends into Archuleta County as far as the Arboles area. The assessed value of School District 11Jt. in Archuleta County is $6,712,760, generating income of $59,240. The district's total tax levy is 8.825 mills.

School District 10Jtr. has schools in Bayfield located north of Ignacio and also in La Plata County. A portion of School District 10Jtr. extends easterly long U.S. 160 into Archuleta County to the top of Yellow Jacket Pass. The assessed value of School District 10Jtr. is $512,480, producing income of $14,784 from a 28.847 mill tax rate.

Next to the schools in amount of income from property taxes is the county government. That entity expects to receive $3,068,313 from property taxes this coming year. The county assessed value of $174,236,960 is taxed at the rate of 21.145 mills. A temporary tax credit of 3.535 mills reduces county income from property taxes by $615,928. The tax credit is listed on individual property tax notices.

With property tax income of $749,155, the Upper San Juan Hospital District ranks next among county entities in the amount of income derived from property taxes. That district has an assessed value of $166,998,380 with a tax rate of 4.549 mills.

Pagosa Fire Protection District is next in income among county taxing entities. The fire district receives $601,678 from property taxes. PFPD has an assessed valuation of $147,941,540. The tax rate of 4.067 mills generates revenue of $601,678.

Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District is made up of two taxing entities. Together, the two entities receive income of $650,972 from property taxes. District 1 provides the original Fairfield Pagosa subdivisions with water and sewer services. District 1 has an assessed value of $65,967,190, a tax rate of 7.19 mills, and property tax income of $474,304.

District 2 provides water only to certain subdivisions south of U.S.160 in the Fairfield Pagosa area, to the town of Pagosa Springs and certain properties adjacent to highways entering Pagosa Springs from the east and south. District 2 has an assessed value of $57,942,910, a tax rate of 3.049 mills, and property tax revenue of $176,668.

The Upper San Juan Library District anticipates 2002 property tax income of $260,586 based on a tax rate of 1.5 mills levied on an assessed value of $173,723,900.

Aspen Springs Metropolitan District has an assessed value of $11,626,950, a tax rate of 10.430 mills, and anticipated property tax income of $121,269.

A property tax income of $73,375 is anticipated by the Pagosa Springs Sanitation District based on an assessed value of $21,580,850 and a tax rate of 3.4 mills.

Alpha-Rockridge Metropolitan District has an assessed value of $5,263,430, a tax rate of 10 mills, and property tax income of $52,634.

With an assessed value of $29,321,290 and a tax rate of 1.68 mills, Pagosa Springs anticipates property tax income of $49,260.

San Juan Water Conservancy District levies a tax of 0.351 mills on an assessed valuation of $137,381,770 in order to receive tax income of $48,221.

Southwestern Water Conservation District will receive income of $45,302 based on a tax rate of 0.260 mills levied on an assessed valuation of $174,236,960.

San Juan Village Metropolitan District, with an assessed value of $2,571,440 and a tax rate of 15.227 mills, receives property tax income of $39,156.

Income of $32,975 is anticipated by Loma Linda Metropolitan District, based on a tax rate of 10 mills levied on an assessed value of $3,297,460.

Piedra Park Metropolitan Improvement District levies 7.076 mills on an assessed valuation of $2,001,860 in order to receive property tax income of $14,167.

Lakeside Hills Metropolitan District has an assessed valuation of $86,560, a tax rate of 20 mills, and anticipated property tax income of $1,731.

Dry New Year's Day forecast for Pagosa Country

By John M. Motter

The first day of the coming year should be clear and dry, according to Gary Chancy, a forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction.

Chancy's forecast anticipates a chance for snow showers Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but dry conditions Tuesday and Wednesday.

"A mega-high across much of the West is controlling the weather right now," Chancy said. "There are lows to the west and lows to the east, but the high pressure is in control. The usual winter storms are developing in the Gulf of Alaska and moving south. When they turn east and hit the high pressure zone, the storms shift north into Canada, bypass the Rocky Mountains, then dip south again across the Great Lakes."

What will it take to break up the high and allow the Alaskan Gulf storms to bring more snow to the Rocky Mountains?

"We'll need a stronger Arctic jet stream," Chancy said, "one that will dip under the high pressure area and push it to the east."

Chancy's forecast for the coming week calls for partly cloudy skies today and tomorrow with high temperatures ranging between 34 and 42 degrees, low temperatures ranging between 5 and 15 degrees.

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday should present partly cloudy skies with a chance for snow showers. Temperatures should remain the same, dipping from a high of 42 degrees during the day to a low of 5 degrees at night.

On the average, Pagosa Springs receives more snow during January than during any other month of the year. January snowfall averages 27.1 inches in town. The maximum January snowfall since 1939 was the 108.9 inches, that's nine feet, received during 1957. No other January has neared that total, although 76 inches dropped in town during 1979.

The monthly mean January temperature is 19.8 degrees. The coldest January temperature of record is minus 42 degrees Jan. 13, 1963. The hottest January temperature of record is 66 degrees recorded Jan. 15, 1944. The difference between the coldest and hottest days is 108 degrees.

Community Center project continues through winter

By Tess Noel Baker

Just over a year ago, development of the Pagosa Springs Community Center was uncertain. It was a dream in the minds of a few citizens, but one without the muscle of big bucks.

Some money had been raised locally, but it was difficult to motivate people without the sound of hammers and heavy machinery to prove the dream could become reality.

Then came the $500,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, and later a $1.7 million 10-year lease purchase agreement between the town, Wells Fargo Bank and the Pagosa Springs Community Facilities Coalition, a non-profit group driving the dream forward. Over the next several months, private Colorado foundations awarded $353,718, and a total of $360,194 has been donated or pledged locally by families, businesses, individuals and special events.

"There were so many obstacles," Ross Aragon, chairman of the community facilities coalition, said. "Having the state get involved, that was the thrust we needed to get over the top."

Hammers and nails

Ground was broken just north of Town Hall on the 500 Block of Hot Springs Boulevard last summer. Dirtwork took a little longer and cost a little more than expected because of the saturation levels in the soil, but after a mild fall and early winter, construction is right on track for completion in July. The grand opening is set for sometime between Aug. 1 and 15.

"I look at it, and it's just so satisfying to see where we're at," Aragon said. "Now with the scaffolding coming off with the brick in place you can see more how it's going to complement city hall."

Kent Monson, project manager, said brick work is nearly done. Crews will return as the weather warms to clean up and wash the masonry to give the structure a finished look.

By the first of the year, he said, crews should be finished putting a protective membrane over the framed roof structure. Once that is in place and the windows installed - 42 in all - the building will be waterproof, meaning finish crews can get to work inside.

Already, with just the framing in place, it's becoming easier and easier to get a feel for the shape of the center. The outline of the concrete block multi-purpose room is in place. Eventually, the gray brick walls will be covered with sienna-colored acoustical panels and a gray rubberized sports flooring will cushion footsteps.

Rosy brown tones are planned for the adjoining women's restrooms and purples are planned for the men's. The hallways will be coated in a pair of cream or brown tones with black cherry and black current accent colors. Three different tile colors will range throughout the building - including a dark rose, brown and white. The carpet will be a dark blue flecked with brown.

"It's pretty basic construction," Town Administrator Jay Harrington said, "but I think the architects did a good job with it." Texture and colors in the brickwork, glass blocks in the upper reaches of the multi-purpose room and other details add interest to the large structure.

Facility coordinator

With construction chugging along, it's time to take a more organized look at facility operations.

Harrington said the position of Community Center Facility Coordinator will be advertised in January with the goal of filling the post in February.

According to the job description, the coordinator will be responsible for coordinating "user groups, facility scheduling, development of facility polices, oversight of facility use, development of safety policies, interaction with the local business community, interacting with the local non-profit community, providing staff reports at Town Board Meetings, meetings of the Pagosa Springs Community Facilities Coalition and providing support for future capitol investment projects."

Final fundraisers

"In about seven and a half months we'll be open for business," Aragon said. "Everything is going just right." He is even confident about closing the final funding gap - a total of about $300,000.

"We're where we want to be," he said. "This will encourage us to work a little harder to complete our end of the deal."

Mark Garcia, town building superintendent, said three grant requests are still out. All three are in the $5,000-$10,000 range meant to help boost funding for furnishings.

"These are furnishing grants for the teen center, the senior center, the multipurpose room, arts and crafts center and computer center," Garcia said. To allow the various foundations as much flexibility as possible, a laundry list of necessary items is included with each request.

However, in some cases it will be several months before an answer is received, he added. In the meantime, plans for the sale of engraved bricks are taking shape.

"We are researching different avenues," Garcia said. The bricks, to be engraved with the donor's name, will be sold for around $50 a piece and used to decorate the three entrances to the building. This will be an ongoing project. The tentative goal is to sell 5,000 bricks to equal $250,000 in funding for the project, but a final estimate will depend on the number of bricks that can fit inside the entrances.

Letters

Thoughts on roads

Dear Editor,

After receiving several calls and messages left on my answering machine about my letter two weeks ago which you published, I would like to explain my feelings and thoughts.

First, I am not against paving roads like Mill Creek and others mentioned by the County Commissioners.

There are roads of much greater importance like Trujillo Road or County Road 500. It is the longest dirt road in the county, a rural mail route to U.S. 151, road to the landfill, road to the county dump, road to the only source of gravel stockpiled at Juanita.

A second road of major importance is Bastille and Cascade, lower half of South Pagosa Boulevard, it should all the paved to Cordova hill or end of pavement. This road relieves traffic congestion on U.S. 160 coming into town.

What has happened at the gravel pit took place in years past to this past summer, not currently. Just wonder if county commissioners know the deals made by the county manager. All gravel crushing has to be put up for bids by law unless laws have changed. Bid is let, and contractor awarded bid is the operator who mines the source of aggregate, crushes and stockpiles. Past practice: the county has been doing the mining of row materials and stockpiling.

This is a no-no commissioners. You have a county to take care of. You wanted the job of county commissioners, you got it, now do it.

Sincerely,

Chris L. Chavez

Middle East conflict

Dear Editor,

Although the war in Afghanistan appears to be wearing down, the threat of Middle Eastern violence spreading over into Europe or the United States is still very real. The unending violence between Palestine and Israel, I believe, was a major factor in the September 11 attacks on the United States. There will never be an end to terrorism until there is Hope in the Middle East and it needs to start with a free and sovereign Palestinian state.

The fact that the United States continues to give unconditional support to Israel has branded us as the perceived enemy of the Arab peoples. These are strong words but I believe that they are accurate. Israel, which did not exist as a country until 1948 has continued to take over Palestinian land for Israeli settlements. Currently most Palestinians are refugees in their own land or in surrounding countries.

The current crisis started 14 months ago when Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister of Israel, led a group of armed Israeli soldiers into an area of the Temple mount typically reserved for Muslims. In the fighting of the past months and weeks the roadblocks, bulldozed homes and shops and the majority of deaths have been of Palestinians killed by Israeli aircraft, helicopters, tanks and small arms the vast majority of which has been provided by the United States.

The solution which must come is the creation of a Palestinian State formed by Israel withdrawing from territories occupied since the 1967 War or at least in the past 7 years.

Israel has achieved a reasonable peace on its northern border by pulling out of Southern Lebanon two years ago. The United States as the main supporter of Israel must force Israel to give up territory and create a reasonable and viable Palestinian homeland. Probably the United Nations and a UN peacekeeping force sent in to keep the two sides apart should implement any agreement.

If the Christmas season and the phrase "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men," means anything it is time to invest time, energy and capital in the land of Christ's birth.

Raymond P. Finney

Right to property

Dear Editor,

James Madison wrote: "I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

If you've been paying attention to news, from sources other than the liberal mainstream media, you'd know that from Klamath Falls to the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, from the war in the West on the farmers and ranchers, to the constant harassment of landowners along the Appalachian Trail, federal agencies are constantly overstepping their authority and violating our unalienable right to property. A right that H. De Soto found, studying governing systems the world over, is the best way of allowing all of us the fruits of our efforts, and also protecting them from expropriation.

Well, another blatant example occurred on Dec. 17, when The Washington Times reported that government agents planted false evidence of finding "endangered" species. That would allow the "law" to stop human activity, regardless of the species, merit. Apparently federal agencies wanted to close off large areas of the Northwest to roads, SUVs, snowmobiles, livestock grazing, natural resources harvesting, tree thinning, even skiing. People would have lost their homes and property too.

This fraud could have cost hundreds of local jobs and bankrupt farmers and ranchers. And the perpetrators were caught red-handed. So, what was the penalty? As reported, "The employees have been counseled for their actions and banned from participating in the three-year survey of the lynx."

I have a better idea: Enforce the law! They are felons. They knowingly and willfully planted false evidence with intent to do harm to the American people. They should go to prison, not counseling. Tell your congressman to insure these lawbreakers get the prison time they so definitely deserve.

Karren Rogalin

Hesperus, CO

Sports Page

Pirates fall to Durango; look for injured to return

By John M. Motter

Pagosa Springs' boys varsity basketball team closed the 2001 portion of this year's basketball season by losing to Durango 54-31. With the loss, the Pirate preseason record drops to three wins, six losses.

The Pirates play one more preseason game before opening defense of their Intermountain League title. Following the year-end holiday season, Pagosa travels to Bloomfield, N.M., to take on the Bobcats. During the previous season, Pagosa topped the Bobcats 54-51 in Pagosa Springs. IML play for Pagosa begins Jan. 18 when Ignacio's Bobcats invade the Pirate lair.

Pagosa has been the IML champion for the past two years. Each of those years, the Pirates advanced through the state playoff system to be one of eight teams competing for the 3A championship in the tournament held at the Air Force Academy.

Other schools in the IML are Bayfield, Ignacio, Centauri and Monte Vista. Early on, Centauri and Monte Vista appear favored to capture the league title. Two teams from the IML advance to state playoff competition.

In addition to the regular league schedule during which each team meets twice, a postseason tournament is held. Both regular season play and tournament results are used to determine which teams represent the IML in post season play.

If any team wins the IML title outright, that team is guaranteed a spot in the state playoffs, regardless of tournament results. In that event, the second state playoff team from the IML will be the tournament winner, or the team finishing highest in the tournament next to the league games winner.

If no team wins the IML title outright, the two teams finishing highest in the tournament will represent the league in the playoffs.

Pagosa graduated four starters from last year's IML champions. In addition, former coach Kyle Canty resigned from coaching. Consequently, the Pirates have a new head coach and a new starting lineup this season. The new head coach is James Shaffer.

The Pirates have struggled through a challenging preseason which has seen them lose to 4A Delta, 4A Rifle, 4A Montrose, and 5A Durango; Monticello, Utah, and Aztec, N.M. Pirate wins have come against Thoreau, N.M. and 3A schools Gunnison and Olathe.

In addition, two of the most experienced Pirate players, Darin Lister and Jason Schutz, have sat out most or all of the preseason. Senior Lister started some of the preseason games, then discovered a bone fracture in one foot and has not played since. Lister's return awaits a release from his doctor.

Schutz is a 6'6" junior who injured a leg during football season and has seen no action so far this season. Schutz expects to return following Christmas break, if his doctor approves.

In the meantime, Shaffer is wielding a lineup containing two seniors, four juniors, three sophomores, and a freshman. While waiting for Lister and Schutz to return, the Pirate lineup is even younger.

Height is not a problem. Schutz and sophomore Clayton Spencer are 6'6", junior Henrique Dias and freshman Caleb Forrest are 6'5". Junior Brandon Charles directs the attack and has been averaging better than 15 points a game this season.

"I expect we will be competitive by the time league play starts," Shaffer predicts.

Against Durango last Thursday Pagosa was competitive until about halfway through the second period, then watched the Demons run off 13 unanswered points on their way to a 28-15 halftime lead. For the Pirates, the basket seemed to have an impenetrable lid.

Both teams looked sluggish during the second half. Durango won the third quarter 8-5, and the final quarter 18-11. During the second half, Durango scored only 26 points, Pagosa a rock bottom 16 points.

The game's leading scorer was 6'6" junior Orlando Griego, who pumped in 18 points and controlled the boards.

Pagosa's leading scorer was Clayton Spencer with nine points earned from four field goals and a free throw. Next were Ryan Goodenberger with three field goals for six points, Henrique Dias and Caleb Forrest with five points each, Charles with four points, all from the free throw line, and Cord Ross with two points.

Following the game, Shaffer pointed out that Pagosa needs to improve its offensive production, but said "I'm proud of their defensive performance against Durango."

Four Pirates win soccer all-conferance honors

By Richard Walter

Pagosa Springs Pirate midfielder Jordan Kurt-Mason, a junior, has been named to the Southwest League all conference soccer team.

Kurt-Mason was joined on the league honor team by teammates Kyle and Trent Sanders and Zeb Gill, all of whom received honorable mention.

Pagosa Springs, Telluride, Crested Butte, Bayfield, Center and Ridgway comprised the league this year and both the Pirates and Telluride advanced to state playoff action.

Trent Sanders is the only senior among those honored, heightening prospects for next season. His brother, Kyle, was one of the top scorers in the state in Class 3A and Gill was an outstanding attacker from the left wing position.

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

Citizens, volunteer nominees due

Truly, the peace of the holiday season has descended upon Pagosa Springs.

Morna and I have taken turns sitting in the office waiting for the phones to ring so we can tell people how difficult it will be to find a room for their last-minute decision to visit our fair town over the holidays. With so little happening around town, we have a chance to do a little housecleaning. So read on for a look at the daily minutiae of Chamber life.

Awards

Don't forget to vote for the Citizen and Volunteer of the Year in Pagosa Springs. The Chamber will be awarding these honors at the annual meeting and Mardi Gras party Jan. 19.

The Citizen of the Year should be a person who has been active in the community in various civic projects not related to his or her specific job. The person should also be a respected member of the community, who has clearly displayed support for the community over a number of years.

The Volunteer of the Year Award should go to a person or group that has quietly and unselfishly volunteered time outside of their workplace. Someone who gives generously, with great humility and expects nothing in return is the perfect candidate for this award.

If you know of anyone who fits these categories, please drop by the Chamber and fill out a ballot. This community is packed to the gills with caring people. Now is your chance to give one of them the recognition they so strongly deserve. Ballots must be received by Jan. 1, so give it some thought and let someone know you appreciate all they do for our community.

Board ballots

Also on tap for the Chamber's annual meeting is the election of three new board members. All Chamber members are eligible to vote for their favorite three candidates from a slate of six willing and capable Pagosa residents. This year's slate, in alphabetical order, includes Linda Delyria (The Tile Store), Bob Eggleston (Bank of the San Juans), Scott Farnham (Civil Design Team), Marion Francis (Bank of Colorado), Nan Rowe (Oso Grande Ranch and Rocky Mountain Reefs), and Sally Theesfeld (The Daily Scoop). If you want to complain to Sally about what the Chamber is doing in the coming year, you have to vote for the candidates of your choice now. If you don't help choose the Chamber's leaders, you can't moan about it later.

2002 Calendar

Among the most frequently asked questions from visitors and potential visitors is "What's happening while I'm in town?" The Chamber works diligently to maintain an up-to-date Calendar of Events to answer this question.

Now, I know that thinking a year in advance can be difficult but we need to know what your plans are so we can include you in our calendar. Morna is putting the 2002 Calendar of Events together as I write this and she needs to hear from you. If you have an event planned for the coming year, call her with the name of the event, the date or dates it will take place and a contact phone number.

Trust me, visitors will come to your event if they know about it. Don't waste this opportunity to get some free advertising. Our Calendar of Events gets mailed out to everyone who requests a visitor package from the Chamber and appears on our website. That's about 4,000 people who will read about your event. Give us your information, please.

November winners

One more sign that early December is just a little crazy around the Chamber: here it is almost Christmas and we're just getting around to talking about November statistics.

Our foot-traffic numbers continue to compare favorably with 2000. Although November 2001 had 52 fewer visitors than last November, our year-to-date total of 41,623 is almost identical with last year's total of 41,611.

The requests for visitor packets have dropped, but considering the positive feedback we continue to receive about our new website, we feel comfortable that many people are getting all the information they need off the web. Our website received 13,884 visitors during the month of November. That's an amazing 463 hits each day; not too bad for a little town in Southwestern Colorado. Since its inception on July 18, we have averaged almost 622 visitors per day on our website.

Membership

We have two new members joining the Chamber this week and six renewals.

Our first new member is Gunner Ranch owned by Mike and Stephanie Messina. Gunner Ranch offers Rustic\Western home furnishings and accessories. They will customize to fit your home or business needs. Located at 565 Village Drive, Suite F & G in the Mountain Run Shopping Center, you can contact them at 731-9121 or fax them at 731-9745.

Our next new member has already earned quite a reputation in town so we gladly welcome Ramon's Mexican Restaurant to the Chamber family. Owned by Roberto Lopez, Ramon's offers fine dining, authentic Mexican food and the best margaritas in town. They are located at 56 Talisman Drive. Give them a call at 731-3012 or fax them at 731-3013. It's great to add two new members to the roll and we welcome them aboard

Our renewals this week are Karen Wessels, P.E. with Alpha Engineering; Larry Fisher with Ski and Bow Rack; Kenny and Don King with King Capital, Inc.; Bo Warren at Circle T\Ace Lumber and Hardware; Terry Smith with American Southwest Log Homes; and Ross Aragon with the Pagosa Springs Community Facilities Coalition.

From all of us here at the Chamber, a wish to all our friends and family for a peaceful, healthy and happy New Year.

Senior News

By Janet Copeland

Thankful that God has blessed the county's seniors

The year 2002 is almost here - we wish everyone a very happy New Year, to include good health, peace, happiness, and the peace of mind of knowing God loves us.

We will never forget the terrible tragedies of Sept. 11 and pray for continued support and strength for those affected. However, we are thankful that God has blessed those of us at the Archuleta Senior Center in many ways.

A big thank you to all of the individuals and businesses who support us throughout the year. Our volunteers donate many hours of their time - without their help, we couldn't carry on. When needs arise for some of our folks or the Center itself, local businesses come to our rescue. The staff and kitchen staff at the Center are the best, always striving to come up with new and better ways to serve our folks. The Area Agency on Aging and the Archuleta County Commissioners do a great job of providing financial and administrative support for our organization. And we are extremely thankful for our seniors - they are a great group of people and have become our "family" in Pagosa.

We have missed Eva Darmopray the last few weeks and hope she can join us again soon.

The School within a School fifth and sixth graders performed during the lunch hour on Friday - what a treat for us. Thanks so much. After lunch, Gene and I enjoyed hosting an open house so everyone could enjoy our many Christmas decorations and homemade goodies.

Friday evening after our monthly potluck dinner, we were treated to a wonderful play, "Best Christmas Pageant Ever," presented by the local ARSE (A Reading Society and Ensemble). Thanks to John Porter for putting this together.

Our Christmas party on Dec. 24 was a lot of fun. We enjoyed the delicious Christmas dinner prepared by the kitchen staff, then those who wished to exchanged gifts.

Notice: Yoga classes are canceled for Christmas and New Year's day. They will resume Jan. 8.

The art classes taught by George Golightly and Kent Schaefer will resume Jan. 2. Instruction is free and these very talented gentlemen would love to have more people join our little group.

Patty Tillerson will be available at the Center Jan. 4 at 11 a.m. to take blood pressures. We really appreciate Patty's dedication to helping us keep track of such an important part of our health.

Roy Vega will speak to us at noon on Jan. 8 regarding the pros and cons of reverse mortgages. This is very valuable information for anyone considering taking out a reverse mortgage to increase their financial stability, because there are risks one must consider.

The first shopping trip of the year will go to Durango Jan.3, so interested parties should sign up soon.

Beginning in 2002, there will be blackjack and poker games offered at the Center after lunch on Wednesdays. The bridge games will be held on Fridays after lunch.

The AARP will increase dues for members beginning Jan 2. Annual membership dues will be $12.50 and a three-year membership will be $29.50. New and renewing members who renew or join before Jan. 2 pay the old rates, $10 and $27, and can do so by mail at AARP Membership Center, PO Box 199, Long Beach, CA 90801; by telephone at 1-800-424-3410; or via internet at www.aarp.org.

AARP membership eligibility begins at age 50 and includes spouses. Those under age 50 can join as associate members. AARP provides information and resources; advocates on legislative, consumer and legal issues; assists members in serving their communities; and offers a wide range of unique benefits and special products and services.

Local Chatter

By Kate Terry

Another take on Washington's crossing

An article in last week's Christmas issue of the SUN had to do with George Washington's troops crossing the Delaware River to Trenton, New Jersey. Historians usually agree that this incident probably turned the tide for America's Revolution.

Another part of this story is what was said that night by George Washington to Henry Knox (who was a heavy-set man) as they loaded their boat.

"Shift that fat , Harry, but slowly or you will swamp the damned boat."

This remark was overheard and passed back through the troops - threadbare, shoeless and depressed men - who then gained the inspiration to push on. Some historians give credit to this remark as the turning point.

One source for this remark is found on page 411 of A.J. Langguth's "Patriots, the Men who Started the American Revolution" (1988).

The tradition is (and I don't know where it started) to eat blackeyed peas on New Years Day. Some recipes are long and involved, but I found this one in "Through the Years with Mason Cooks" (pub. in Mason, TX as their Centennial Edition - 1958) that is simple. The recipe is for fresh blackeye peas and okra.

Cover peas with water; add salt pork, salt and pepper. Cook slow 2 1/2 hours. Cut off tips of okra; place okra on top of peas. Cover and cook 30 minutes.

Now if you are in a hurry, go to the market and purchase a can of blackeyed peas. Please note that sometimes it's "blackeye peas" and sometimes that it's "blackeyed peas." Add pieces of bacon and onion and cook a bit.

The Advent 2001 Anglican Digest has this cartoon as a "point to ponder." The caption says: "What if the Three Wise Men had been Three Wise Women? Answer: They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts.

From Ima Gurl's notebook:

These are the words to an old English folk dance.

"Today is Christmas Day,

Today is Christmas Day,

And after Christmas follows Easter.

No, no that is not so,

No, no that is not so.,

For Lent alas comes in between them."

(Note: Lent begins Feb. 13, Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday is March 31.)

Fun on the run

For you who received an electric blanket for Christmas:

"My husband thoughtfully brought me an electric blanket, since I always complain about cold sheets. I was a little reluctant to sleep under all that electric wiring, but he assured me it was safe, and in minutes I was dozing off contentedly.

What my husband did not know was that I put a ham in the oven to bake all night at low heat. When he awakened in the night and smelled something cooking, he reached over and shook me. Dot, Dot, honey!" he cried. "Are you all right."

This is from the Reader's Digest Treasury of American Humor.

Extension Viewpoints

By Bill Nobles

Getting serious about your health

Jan. 10 - San Juan Basin Alfalfa and Irrigated Pasture Management Workshop, Cortez, 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Early registration on or before Jan. 4 - $15; after Jan. 5 - $20. Applications available at Archuleta County Extension Office.

Jan. 31 - Four Corners Extension Beef Symposium, La Plata County Fairground, Durango, 9 - 4 p.m. Early registration postmarked on or before Jan. 25 - $15: after January 26 - $20. Applications available at Archuleta County Extension office.

Serious about health

A careful examination of your current lifestyle may reveal a number of habits that are candidates for change. To maximize your chances of success, don't try to change all your problem behaviors at once - such as quitting smoking, giving up high-fat foods, starting regular exercise, avoiding drugs, and getting more sleep. Working on even one behavior change will make high demands on your energy. Concentrate on one behavior that you want to change, your target behavior, and work on it systematically. Start with something simple, like snacking on candy during the afternoon or always driving to a particular meeting instead of walking.

Once you've chosen a target behavior, you need to find out more about it. You need to know its risks and benefits for you, both now and in the future. How is your target behavior affecting your level of wellness today? What diseases or conditions does this behavior place you at risk for? What effect would changing your behavior have on your health?

You also need information to set an overall target for change. For some behaviors, this is simple. For example, if your target behavior is smoking, your goal will be to quit. If your target behavior is something like a poor diet, however, or an inactive lifestyle, you may need additional information to set an appropriate goal. Further investigation can help you determine that you should consume five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, or that you should add 30 minutes of brisk walking to your daily routine.

Outside help is often needed for changing behaviors or conditions that may be too deeply rooted or too serious for a self-management approach. If this is the case, don't be stopped by the seriousness of the problem. There are many resources available to help you solve it. Many communities offer a variety of services through adult education, health departments, and private agencies. Consult the yellow pages, your physician, your local health department, a college or university, or the United Way. The latter often sponsors local referral services.

Knowledge is a necessary ingredient for behavior change, but it isn't usually enough to make people act. Millions of people smoke or have sedentary lifestyles, for example, even though they know it's bad for their health. To succeed at behavior change, you need strong motivation. Strategies for building motivation include examining the pros and cons of change, boosting self-efficacy, and overcoming key barriers to change.

Health behaviors have short-term and long-term benefits and costs associated with them. For example, in the short-term, an inactive lifestyle allows for more time to watch television and to do various household chores, but it leaves a person less able to participate in recreational activities. In the long term, it increases risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke, and premature death. For successful behavior change, you must believe that the benefits of changing outweigh the costs. Do a careful analysis of the short-term and long-term benefits and costs of continuing your current (target) behavior and of changing to a new, healthier behavior. Focus on the effects that are most meaningful to you, including those that are tied to your personal identity and values. For example, if you see yourself as an active person who is a good role model for others, then adopting behaviors such as regular physical activity and adequate sleep would support your personal identity. If you value independence and control over your life, then quitting smoking would be consistent with your values and goals. To complete your analysis, ask friends and family members about the effects of your behavior on them. For example, a spouse may tell you he never ate candy in the evening until he started living with you, or a child may tell you that your smoking habit influenced her decision to take up smoking.

Pay special attention to the short-term benefits of behavior change, as these can be an important motivating force. Although some people are motivated by long-term goals, such as avoiding a disease that may hit them in 20 to 30 years, most are more likely to be moved to action by short-term, more personal goals. Feeling better, doing better at work, improving in a sport, reducing stress, and increasing self-esteem are common short-term benefits of health behavior change.

You can further strengthen your motivation by engaging your emotions and raising your consciousness about your problem behavior. This will enable you to focus on the current negatives of the behavior and to imagine the consequences if you don't make the change. Ask yourself: What do I want for myself, now and in the future?

Social pressures can also increase the motivation to make changes. Antismoking ordinances keep many people from smoking at work and in public buildings. The inconvenience of finding a place to smoke - and the pressure from family and friends - are among the short-term costs of a smoking habit that can add to the motivation to quit.

When you start thinking about changing a health behavior, a big factor in your eventual success is whether you have confidence in yourself and in your ability to change. Self-efficacy refers to your belief in your ability to successfully take action and perform a specific task. Self-efficacy varies with each behavior and depends on many factors, including your level of self-esteem and your past experiences with your target behavior. Strategies for boosting self-efficacy include developing an internal locus of control, using visualization and self-talk, and obtaining encouragement from supportive people.

Crusing with Cruse

By Katherine Cruse

Beware mixing 'good stuff' with trash

When our kids were little we, like many of you, went through the Santa Claus years. We took our son, age five, to visit the department store Santa. I still have the picture. Michael, in his green plaid corduroy coveralls, is dwarfed by the giant fluffy beard, the red suit, and the glittery razzle-dazzle surrounding Santa's chair, which resembles a throne.

Of course, then as now, if you lived in a city, or at least in an urban metropolitan area, Santa Claus was ubiquitous. Every department store had one; now it's every mall. People in Santa suits are on practically every street corner, ringing bells for one charity or another. It gets a little confusing. We finally told our kids that these were all Santa's "helpers," not The Real Thing.

Then there's the whole charade on keeping up the belief in a mythical elf who not only knows if you've been naughty or nice, but also knows just what the kid wants to find under the tree come Christmas morning. If you're obtuse, like I was, or if your children are close-mouthed, you have a great opportunity to mess up here, and the Santa who comes to your house in the dead of night will bring the wrong thing.

That happened the year our daughter was two. I was still into non-gender specific toys. None of this - dolls for girls, trucks for boys - mentality for me. Hah! Emily wandered around all morning like a lost waif, searching for the doll she knew she ought to have gotten from Santa. You can bet we were at the store the minute they opened the doors the next morning, where she got to pick the doll that she'd apparently been expecting all month.

I can tell you, it was a great relief when our children were finally old enough to stop believing in Santa as a real live person who flies about in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, delivering toys.

In our house, presents from mom and dad came wrapped; presents from Santa did not. They were displayed in all their glory under and around the tree on Christmas morning. Less obvious were the BandAids on dad's several nasty cuts, acquired while he assembled the race car track or the little-girl-sized stove before we adults could go to bed. (This was back in the days before toys were made of plastic - these were still metal, with tab a and slot b.)

Post Santa years, we still had the problem of keeping the loot under wraps and hidden until Christmas. One year I stored stuff in the trunk of the car, then forgot I'd done that. While we were at church I gave our son the car keys so he could retrieve something he'd left in the back seat. Did he take the opportunity to check out the trunk? You bet he did.

I know a young woman who spent half the year getting presents for her family and friends. Her house doesn't have many places to hide things from her three boys, or from her husband either, so she stored the stuff in black plastic garbage bags. After the Thanksgiving weekend was over she brought the bags down to the dining room, where she wrapped the boxes and tied on the ribbons, and got everything organized. Then she stuffed the wrapped packages back into the garbage bags and left them in the dining room.

Next morning her husband gathered them up and put them out with the trash. By the time she got the boys fed and off to school and drove the toddler to play group and sat down with the second cup of coffee, the garbagemen had long since come and gone. Adios presents.

"How could you do that?" she asked her husband. "Hey, don't blame me," he said. "They were garbage bags. I thought they were trash."

"When have I ever left the garbage in the dining room?" she countered.

But it was too late. With something like three weeks left before the guy in the red suit was due to come down the chimney, she had to recreate the shopping list and brave the crowds and do it all over again, only this time no chance for bargain hunting.

I e-mailed this story to a friend, who wrote back, "Your true Xmas story was sad, but leaving "garbage" bags out like that seems like tempting fate, to me. We had something similar happen when my brother and his family visited us, back in the late 60s. We celebrated one of their children's birthdays while they were visiting and watched some of their home movies, brought in a plain brown grocery bag. After the party, that bag, unfortunately, got mixed in with the bags with all the birthday-party trash and was tossed out - and not missed until they were packing to leave, a few days later. So Dick and Mary lost all their home movies of their kids as babies, toddlers, and preteens."

Today this probably wouldn't happen, since home movies have been replaced by video cameras. Doesn't the film, or the disk, stay inside the camera? Nevertheless, be careful. Don't toss the good stuff - the receipts, the directions, the hand-knit scarf, the roll of film - out with the trash.

And have a Happy New Year.

Parks and Rec

By Douglas Call

Practices only for youth basketball during holidays

The youth basketball season will continue through the holidays, but with practices only. Coaches may sign up for practices today, tomorrow and Jan. 2-4, 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. 20. Second half schedules are available at Town Hall and at games. Tournament games for the 11-12 division will begin Feb. 4.

Adult basketball

Adult basketball open gym started last week and will continue tonight, tomorrow and Jan. 2-4 from 6-8 p.m. Practices are being held in the junior high gym, with no preregistration or fee required. Just drop in and shoot some hoops.

Adult soccer

Adult indoor soccer open gym started last weekend and will continue tonight, tomorrow 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 are being held at the River Center Pond this month. Lessons are held Monday and Wednesday evenings 5-6:30 p.m. and Sunday mornings from 8-9:30 a.m. Lessons will run though Jan. 20. Lessons will not be held New Year's Eve.

Registration fee for lessons is $20 for the whole season. Registration and payment can be made at Town Hall or the River Center Pond. Skaters can rent skates from Summit Ski and Sports and may also bring hockey sticks, but pucks are not needed. Please call the recreation office at 264-4151 ext. 232 with any questions.

Skating lessons

Ice skating lessons continue at the River Center Pond Thursday evenings from 5-6:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 9-10:30 a.m. Lessons will run through Jan. 19.

Registration fee for the clinic is $20 per season. The fee can be paid at Town Hall or the River Center Pond. Skate rental is available at Summit Ski and Sports, next to River Center Park.

 

Arts Line

By Pamela Bomkamp

2002 exhibit applicatios available

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council Board of Directors is happy to announce some changes in exhibits and the time frame of each exhibit.

Effective with the 2002 season, exhibits will be held May through October. Exhibits will be for a period of three weeks each, including theme exhibits and combination exhibits showing both two and three-dimensional art. Each exhibit will consist of two or three artists.

The 2002 exhibit application is now available.

If you would like more information about the arts council and gallery, or how you get an artist's exhibit application packet, just call the art gallery at (970) 264-5020.

New PSAC Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. These hours will be in effect through March.

You can hear PSAC interviews and information on the radio. Tune to KWUF (1400 AM on your radio dial) the second Thursday of each month from 8:05 to 8:35 a.m.

Photo contest

It is time once again for the annual Pagosa Springs Arts Council Photography Contest at Moonlight Books. This contest is open to all amateurs as well as to professional photographers. Entries are due at Moonlight Bookstore by 5 p.m., Jan. 30.

The opening reception will be held Feb. 2 from 5 to 7 p.m. All photographs will be on display Feb. 2-23.

PSAC membership

The PSAC helps ensure a flourishing and diverse community by enriching lives through the arts. We are a non-profit organization that relies on membership, donations and volunteers to help provide meaningful and educational cultural programs for local residents and visitors to our area. By becoming a member of PSAC you are supporting our events as well as our divisions.

Special thank you

The arts council would like to thank those who have helped the PSAC in any way this year.

Thanks to Nancy Green for keeping up with the scrapbook.

Library News

By Lenore Bright

New offerings offer views on terrorism

We have many new books and audiotapes. Lots of new fiction and some disturbing non-fiction ones about the future of terrorism.

"The New Jackals," by Simon Reeve draws on previously unpublished documents and interviews with FBI agents concerning Ramzi Yousef, the extremist who masterminded the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. It examines the connection with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. It was published before the destruction of the World Trade Center. It is eerie in its prediction of things to come.

Reeve concludes that Yousef and bin Laden are the first of a new breed of terrorists, men dedicated to mass killing and willing to die for their cause. He is sure that there will be more weapons of mass destruction, and there is not much we can do about it.

"The Taliban," by Ahmed Rashid brings the shadowy world of the Taliban into sharp focus. While the Taliban may be in disarray, the new face of Islamic fundamentalism will be with us for some time to come and it behooves us all to understand the nature of the consequences of interference by outside powers.

On a happier note, "Best Ever Cake Decorating" by Angela Nilsen and Sarah Maxwell is a complete guide to techniques for over 100 cakes. There are traditional and novelty cakes and special ones for children's parties.

"The Viking World," by James Graham Campbell, has many pictures of relics found from the Viking explorations. This well-done volume tells much of their history. For 300 years they dominated Western Europe. Then the warriors disappeared as mysteriously as they had appeared.

One of the pictures is of an ice skate they invented, as skating over frozen rivers and lakes was a common way of traveling. It was a leather ankle-boot attached to a skate made of animal bone. The artifacts are fascinating.

Fuel economy guide

The latest guide put out by the Department of Energy is here.

If you're in the market for a new car, this will help you find the vehicle with the highest fuel economy. An interesting study shows how much gas costs at different miles per gallon rates. Ask for the guide at the desk.

Holidays

Just another reminder that the library will be closed Saturday, Dec. 29 for inventory, and Monday Dec. 31, and Tuesday, Jan. 1 for carpet cleaning and New Year's.

Shepards Staff

John C. Bowe CR
IHM Parish

Pagsoa Springs

We must be nourished in prayer, penance, charity

The Beatitudes of Matthew's Gospel introduce blessings on those who mourn, promising comfort, blessing those who quest for righteousness, promising satisfaction; blessing the merciful and peacemakers. Noting that the words of Jesus challenge us and offer us hope as our community responds to the terrible recent events we help each other come to terms with a changed world and the challenges we face.

We need to respect the basic rights of all persons, and we do not need to allow ourselves to be captured by fear, and we must not allow ourselves to trade freedom for security.

The establishment of a more just international, social and political order is a responsibility incumbent on us given the prominence of our country. While our first responsibility is to the common good of our own society, we have an obligation to promote the common good as well.

Finally, we need to turn to God and to one another in hope. Hope assures us that we will see our way through what now seems such a daunting challenge. Living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these days of trial, we must be nourished in prayer, penance and acts of charity and solidarity. Then we will be strengthening our community in faith and hope.

Pagosa Lakes News

By Ming Steen

A serious bridge encounter for dedicated players

Bridge in Pagosa has a quiet but large participation.

The bridge club was started in 1980 by a couple of Pagosa Lakes pioneer residents and has had a continuous interest since. According to Dan Cox, director of the Pagosa Duplicate Bridge Club, the group uses procedures adopted from the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) but is not sanctioned by any national bridge organizations. "This is a serious but friendly group that plays for fun." Translation: friendly, neighborly folks who are warm and welcoming but once the game begins, it's a time for focus and meditated moves. If you are a bridge player looking for opportunities to improve your skill, this group is for you. Looking for an outlet for social concerns? Sorry, wrong folks.

Pagosa Duplicate Bridge Club is one of several weekly bridge groups in this community. Participation in some of these groups is by invitation only. This is not the case with Pagosa Duplicate Bridge Club. New members are encouraged and this is an avenue for newcomers and part-time residents to get introduced to the local bridge scene. Many of the club members also play bridge on-line, thus enabling them to maintain an informed, year-round contact with some of their part-timers. If you are interested in becoming involved with Pagosa Duplicate Bridge Club, they meet Tuesdays, 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse. Please contact Dan Cox for additional information, 730-0607.

Four Corners Volleyball Club is a USVBA sanctioned competitive volleyball program for girls ages 12 to 18. Local girls who are interested in playing in the club are encouraged to call Shelly Wedemeyer at 731-2078. The season will begin in January, right after the students are back in school, and run through June. Practices, to be held in Durango, will be two evenings per week. Shelly hopes to make arrangements for a car pool to get participants to Durango for the biweekly practices. Students who are currently involved in high school athletics but are interested in being in the volleyball club will be excused from volleyball practices if game conflicts arise. High school sports practices and games come first. The purpose of the volleyball club is to provide experience, coaching, new friendships and lots of fun to participants. Participation in regional and national tournaments will further enhance each player's experience.

"Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and the new year. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog," says Craig Wilson in USA Today. That's not a shabby piece of advice. Believe me, come Jan. 2 you'll be out there pounding the pavement or inside sweating over the treadmill when you can't get your pants zipped up (or you can exhale thoroughly and get the zipper up but can't inhale). It's good to take a break, even from exercise. So, enjoy the rest of the season and be ready to change in January. . . cookieless January is just around the corner.

In Sync With Isabel
by Isabel Willis

We are our own support system

People are busy and have many demands to meet. This makes it hard sometimes to change our every day focus from what we have not done to what is really important and needs attention first. We remind ourselves of what we do not have, and are seldom grateful for what we do have. We are always aware of where we have not been, but never realize there are so many places yet to go. Last but not least, we spend too much time harping on our weaknesses and not finding our strengths.

I didn't get this information from any newsletter, or library. I simply asked families in our community what things in their life needed to be addressed in 2002.

Every week I try to focus on a local resource in our community. This week I'd like to tell you what the all-time greatest resource truly is.

It's every one of you. We are our own support system. We are able to make choices for ourselves and we are the only ones who have the power to invest in those choices. So many people have told me that there is no government program in this world that can make each of us self-reliant.

Often times we don't think of our strengths as being simply humor, optimism, coping skills, values, or even love. In turn we never think about our own hopelessness turning into dependency, poverty, depression and even violence.

Feeling good about ourselves makes it easier to meet the challenges of life. Coping skills allow us to deal with the day-to-day challenges or problems. Values reflect who we are, our culture, and our own unique heritage.

Have you ever heard of a teachable moment? It occurs when individuals, parents, or children learn something from every day occurrences and/or a potential crisis. Is this not part of our daily routine?

I'm sure by this point you're wondering where I'm going with all of this. I guess that in working with families and children, I see so much strength in everybody. Each individual is the most important person in their life who makes decisions.

Remembering this makes it easier to not lose perspective on what is truly important and what is truly a crisis. We need to look within ourselves, our families, and our "culture" for direction from time to time. We are all unique and we all have something to offer one-another.

The bottom line is that strong families build strong individuals, and those individuals build the kind of world we all dream of. On that note, I have no magic phone number that will answer all of your questions this time, and no address to tell you where to go. I simply thought it would be nice to recognize everybody in this community for being a resource. We can all be strengthened by expressions of caring and appreciation. This time of year seems perfect to offer a little reminder.

Happy holidays everyone.

Veterans Corner

by Andy Fautheree, VSO

How to obtain special license plates

First of all I would like to wish everyone, especially all the veterans in Archuleta County, a hearty Happy New Year.

I look forward to serving veterans this coming year, meeting new veterans and renewing old acquaintances. If you have not visited my office since I came aboard in March of 2001, I urge you to stop by so I can meet you personally and tell you about many new VA benefits.

Last week we started a discussion about Colorado veterans' special issue license plates. This week I would like to continue with information on how and where to obtain these plates.

The regular plates that acknowledge a veteran's military duty in various ways are pretty much straight forward. Usually, a copy of the veteran's DD214 (military discharge paper) is all that is required, plus the appropriate fees. They are obtained at the county clerk's office in the courthouse.

However, license plates with special emphasis on military duty or honors require additional information or authentication. These plates include Disabled Veteran, Medal of Honor, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Prisoner of War, and Purple Heart.

Obtaining Disabled Veterans license plates requires the most information for qualification. The Veterans Service Office has forms to apply for required VA qualification information. The VA must rate the veteran at 50 percent or more service-connected disabled. Form CVA 12 from this office can be used to apply to the Colorado State VA office for verification of disability rating along with a copy of the veteran's DD214. Once a letter of eligibility has been received, this office will fax the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles Registrations Division the signed form, a copy of title or registration, and copy of proof of insurance. The Colorado Department of Revenue, Registrations Division will then send the plates directly to the veteran.

The first set of Disabled Veteran plates is free of registration fees. Remember, the plates stay with the veteran and are not transferable. This means if the vehicle is sold, or the veteran dies, the plates must be returned to county clerk's office. If the veteran owns an existing vehicle and buys a new vehicle, the free plates on the old vehicle can be transferred to the new vehicle, saving a substantial amount of license fee. The new fee plates are then assigned to the older vehicle. The fees for additional sets of Disabled Veteran plates are $10 for the first year, $5 replacement, $2 transfer. Regular registration fees are paid for the second vehicle and this is done at the county clerk's office.

Medal of Honor plates are issued to qualified veterans for owned/leased vehicles. A verification of qualifications in writing from the issuing branch of service along with a copy of the title or registration of the vehicle is submitted to the Colorado Department of Revenue Registrations Division. The first set of plates is free of registration and licensing. Additional sets are $10 for the first year plus normal registration fees, $10 replacement, $2 transfer.

Pearl Harbor Survivor plates are issued to veterans who were a member of U.S. armed forces, stationed at Pearl Harbor/Island of Oahu or offshore 3 miles or less on Dec. 7, 1941, during the hours of 7:55 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Hawaii time; who received an honorable discharge and hold a current membership in the national organization of survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Form DR2130 signed by the organization's CO chairman is required. Fees are $10 for the first year plus normal registration fee, $10 replacement, $2 transfer.

Prisoner of War plates may be issued to veterans for owned/leased vehicles if they were on active duty during an armed conflict and were incarcerated by an enemy of the U.S. Once plates are issued to a qualifying veteran, a surviving spouse may continue using the plates. Form DR2502 signed by the Veterans Service Officer with county title record is sent to the Colorado Department of Revenue. A first set of POW plates is free including registration fees, free replacement. Additional sets of plates are $10 for the first year plus registration fee, $10 replacement, $2 transfer.

Purple Heart license plates may be issued to vehicles owned or leased by veterans who are recipients of a Purple Heart Medal. Form DR2223, proof of eligibility such as discharge certificate or medal certificate, and title record are submitted to the Colorado Department of Revenue. The first set of plates is free including vehicle registration fees. Additional sets are $10 for the first year, $10 replacement, $2 transfer.

Remember, in most cases these plates are only good for light vehicles, light trucks and farm equipment, not to exceed 6.5 cwt (curb-empty weight).

For information on these and other veterans' benefits please call or stop by the Veterans Service Office located on the lower floor of the Archuleta County Courthouse. 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

Michael and Becky Shields own and operate Jump River Mercantile and Lodging, at 169 Pagosa Street in downtown Pagosa Springs.

Jump River Mercantile offers an eclectic inventory including, jewelry, home furnishings, decorator items, lamps, candles, quilts and wool throws.

The lodging aspect of the business opened this week, featuring a 1,200 square-foot unit that sleeps six comfortably and is available daily or by the week.

Jump river is open daily. For information, call 264-1900.

People

Winner of Cutest Baby Contest

Andre Maestas, seated with mom Leanne, was named winner of the recent ALCO Cutest Baby Contest. The contest raised funds for the American Red Cross. Store manager Jim Plant, back, right, and assistant manager Scott Newland presented Maureen McGee of the Red Cross a check for $839. Andre received a gift certificate as the winner of the contest.