Car plunges off Wolf Creek Pass
Mother suspected of suicide, three-year-old daughter dies
By Tess Noel Baker
"She was walking up there," Dan Bentley said, pointing to a spot along U.S. 160 on Wolf Creek Pass above the San Juan Overlook. "We saw there wasn't any vehicle and thought it was weird, so we stopped."
It was about 8:15 a.m. on Jan. 3 and the girl they saw, 16-year-old Roxanne Vega, of Saguache, had just climbed 160 feet up the side of the mountain with a broken ankle, arm and back to find help.
Vega, three of her young cousins, the driver and a puppy were in a 1987 Ford LTD that crossed over three lanes of highway and a scenic pullout 12 hours earlier and plummeted off the side of the road just east of the second runaway truck ramp on Wolf Creek Pass. They were headed to Durango.
The driver, Alison Kay Phillips, 27, of Alamosa, who is now suspected of sending the car over the edge in a suicide attempt, and her 3-year-old daughter, Kayla, were dead. Two other passengers, Alison's sons, Christopher Large, 4, and Carlos Large, 8, both of Alamosa, were still trapped in the vehicle below.
"We tried to call on the cell phone, but couldn't get any service," Bentley said. He and his wife, Susan, were staying in Pagosa Springs with a church group and were headed up the mountain to Wolf Creek Ski area when they spotted Vega and stopped. "We flagged down someone else and told them to go up the mountain to the ski area and tell them there's been a bad wreck here."
That brought the Colorado State Patrol, Upper San Juan Health Service District, Pagosa Fire Protection District, Upper San Juan Search and Rescue as well as Archuleta and Mineral County law enforcement officers to the scene. Air Care was launched to airlift victims.
"Carlos was still pinned under the front steering wheel in the morning," Cpl. Randy Talbot, of the Colorado State Patrol, said. His legs were trapped by the dashboard.
Rescue personnel rappeled down to the vehicle and brought both boys up. Vega and Carlos Large were taken by Air Care to San Juan Regional Hospital in Farmington. An investigation ensued.
According to interviews and investigation at the scene, Talbot said, the vehicle went over the edge about 8 p.m. on Jan. 2. All five occupants were riding in the front seat.
"Two child restraints were found in the back seat," Talbot said, "but they were apparently not in use."
Alison Phillips, Christopher Large and Vega were all ejected from the vehicle which came to rest on its wheels. Christopher and Vega crawled into the car for the night, huddling together for warmth until morning when Vega climbed up a field of loose rocks and boulders to the highway and assistance.
"She helped them survive last night," Bentley said.
Once evidence pointed to suicide, Talbot said, the state patrol turned the investigation over to Mineral County authorities.
Mineral County Sheriff Phil Leggitt said Alison Phillips told her husband, Chad Phillips, more than once she was considering suicide. She suffered from bipolar disorder and had not taken her medication for several days.
Leggitt said Phillips' body will be autopsied to check for drugs or alcohol. Results were not available at press time.
Vega remained in fair condition in Farmington Monday. Her release was expected this week. Carlos Large was treated for a broken jaw and released over the weekend.
Christopher Large was transported to Mercy Medical Center at Durango, treated for minor injuries and released Saturday.
The puppy died sometime during the cold night in the car from injuries sustained in the accident.
Owner faces jail, fines in dog attack on boy, 8
By Tess Noel Baker
The owner of two dogs that attacked an 8-year-old boy in the Pagosa Vista Subdivision Dec. 23 faces two counts of unlawful ownership of a dangerous dog.
Craig Westberg, assistant district attorney, said charges against David Martinez were filed Tuesday. His mother, Sandra Schultz, faces the same charges. All are misdemeanors under Colorado state law.
"I recognize there is a great deal, and rightly so, of public sentiment regarding this case," Westberg said, "but I can't file charges based on that." In this case, a Class 1 misdemeanor, carrying the possibility of three to 18 months of jail, a $500-$5,000 fine, or both for each count, is all the law allows.
In fact, Westberg said, it's a stiffer penalty than it was just a few months ago. Penalties for ownership of a dangerous dog actually increased in October of 2002.
In keeping with standard practice for misdemeanor offenses, Westberg added, arrest warrants will not be issued in this case. Both Martinez and Schultz will receive summonses to appear in court.
Pagosan Garrett Carothers was attacked by two dogs while standing on a neighbor's porch. They apparently dragged him into the street and continued to bite him until spotted by two men driving in the area. By the time the attack was over, Carothers had suffered bites over most of his body and severe lacerations to his head, ear and face.
One of the two dogs suspected of the attack, a pit bull, was later shot as it lunged at sheriff's deputy. The other, a retriever-Rottweiler mix, was captured and kept under quarantine. It has since been euthanized.
Archuleta County Sheriff's Captain Bob Grandchamp said Martinez decided to put the dog down voluntarily.
Although the attack on Carothers was the first time these particular dogs went on record as dangerous, it wasn't their first brush with trouble.
Since January of 2002, the property owner received at least two warnings and one fine for having "dogs at large." The first warning and the citation were issued by the Pagosa Lakes Property Owner's Association in February and May of 2002. The second warning was issued in October following a complaint by Sonja and Kent Kirkland who lived on Canyon Circle at the time.
"Two dogs, one light brown, one black came into my yard and chased my cats," the complaint, a copy of which was provided by the Kirklands, read. "They wander free both Saturday and Sunday. I can for sure ID them as the ones that killed my cat in early summer."
Sonja Kirkland said the dogs actually came up on her porch to get her cat, a small female.
"They were playing tug of war on our porch with the cat," she said. "I saw them kill her. I held her while she died." She suspects the same two dogs of killing another of her cats earlier in the year. That one, however, was more prone to roaming she said, and she never actually saw what happened to it.
At the time of the attack on her calico, Kirkland said, she called the sheriff's department, but didn't identify the dogs at that time because she couldn't locate the owner's residence. Once she had that information, she called the PLPOA animal control officer, Helena Grandquist, made an appointment and pointed out the two dogs.
No record of the appointment or of any follow-up regarding the cat-killing has been located. Grandquist was fired later that same month.
Grandquist says the PLPOA has a history of letting off dangerous dogs and that she was told to stay out of the Vista area.
The Archuleta County Sheriff's Department has no record of a problem with the two dogs.
Kirkland said after filing the complaint, she really didn't follow up. Later, they moved away from Canyon Circle.
"I thought I did my part," she said. "I went out and ID'd the dogs with her (Grandquist) there. I assumed the problem had been taken care of and the dogs were gone."
Under the PLPOA rules and regulations, property owners can only be warned, fined or told to take some action to keep dogs confined. No stipulation exists for removing the dogs from the property.
Reconstruction bids sought
for Hot Springs Boulevard
By Tess Noel Baker
Now that the building of Town Hall and the Pagosa Springs Community Center is over, and lights and crosswalks are updated on U.S. 160, the Town of Pagosa Springs is turning its attention to Hot Springs Boulevard.
Currently, the town is advertising for bids on a project to include widening part of the road to three lanes, improving drainage and adding curb, gutter and sidewalks.
Bids are set to be opened Jan. 28, Jay Harrington, town administrator, told the Pagosa Springs Board of Trustees at their regular meeting Tuesday. So far, things are looking pretty competitive. At least 10 contractors have picked up bid packages. More are expected to follow in the next few days.
The plans call for adding a center turn lane in the boulevard from just past the post office north to a point just before the bridge connecting Hot Springs Boulevard with U.S. 160. Storm drains near the Oak Ridge motel would be moved underground. Drainage would be addressed, and 8-foot sidewalks added.
The sidewalks would run from the post office to the Spa Motel on the east side of the road and from the Spring Inn to the Community Center on the west side.
Under the project plans, construction is expected to take around 120 days and contractors are restricted to closing only one access to businesses at a time. They must also give two weeks notice before blocking a business access to give merchants a chance to prepare.
Harrington said a 3- to 4-foot grass buffer is planned between the road and sidewalks to give town crews a place to store snow in the winter. Unfortunately, he added, because the crown of the road is wrong for drainage, most of the concrete will have to be ripped up and replaced, adding to the cost.
The trustees have earmarked $560,000 in the 2003 capital improvement fund for the project. Engineer's estimates put the cost at $527,000 plus a 10-percent contingency, Harrington said.
The town will cover the cost of the road, curb, gutter and drainage.
On sidewalks, Harrington said, the trustees will consider a payback ordinance in February. As drafted, the ordinance would require property owners to pay their share of the sidewalk construction only upon development or redevelopment of their property in the next 10 years.
Under current ordinances, Harrington said, in some zones and for some types of commercial development, property owners are required to pay their share of sidewalk costs up front. The town is looking to manage this project differently because of the pre-existing pedestrian need in the area.
Harrington plans to meet with property owners about the sidewalk plan over the next few weeks.
Street lights for Hot Springs Boulevard were purchased in 2002 and await installation.
$6 million in PAWS water bonds
will be offered for sale next week
By Tom Carosello
The second issue of general obligation water bonds to be used for the completion of several water storage and delivery improvements by the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District is scheduled for sale later this month.
Pricing and offering of the second issue of bonds, which will total nearly $6 million, are expected some time during the week of Jan. 13 according to Carrie Campbell, the district general manager.
An additional $4.6 million portion of the bond, which voters approved at last year's Nov. 5 general election, was acquired after the first issue in mid-December and added as a revision to the 2002 district budget the same month. The bond total that voters approved equals $10.35 million.
Campbell said the reasoning behind scheduling the bond sale for two separate issues in different years was to save taxpayers thousands of dollars on interest payments. "The short of it is we got a better deal on interest rates," she said.
Although the list of projects the district hopes to accomplish contains at least 12 items, most of the revenue collected from the sale of the bonds is earmarked for two major improvements: the encasement of Dutton Ditch, estimated at about $4 million, and the enlargement of Stevens Reservoir, estimated at approximately $4.4 million.
"We're still in the process of securing the necessary permits from the U.S. Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers," said Campbell, "but we don't anticipate any snags." The Forest Service has already completed an environmental assessment for the Dutton Ditch project.
Work on each project is expected to start as soon as the permits are issued. Campbell has said in the past that in the unlikely event permits are not issued, the district will not move forward with alternative plans without first obtaining the opinion of district voters.
The insured bonds, which are issued by Denver-based George K. Baum & Company, are exempt from federal and Colorado state taxes.
For more information or an official statement from the company concerning this new issue, contact Bill Potocnik or Christine Furgason at (800) 722-1670.
Date High Low Precipitation
Type Depth Moisture
Slight chance for snow exists in the next week
By Tom Carosello
After enjoying a week of above-average temperatures, melting snow and azure skies, Pagosa residents may have reason to expect a return visit from Old Man Winter within the next few days.
According to Norvan Larson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Grand Junction, trace amounts of snow may begin to settle on Pagosa sidewalks as early as tonight.
"We have to at least mention the possibility for snow tonight during the later hours," said Larson. The forecast through next Wednesday also includes a chance of snow.
Larson said clouds should remain through the early morning hours today, then give way to some sunshine this afternoon. Highs should stretch into the lower to mid-40s.
Nighttime thermometer readings should indicate low temperatures in the middle teens under partly cloudy skies. There will be a slim chance for snow.
Friday's forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and a slight chance of snow showers with afternoon highs in the lower 40s. Lows are expected to be in the teens.
The possibility for flurries and cloudy skies continues through Saturday. Highs are projected to be in the mid-30s to mid-40s; lows should register in the teens.
Sunday and Monday call for a few clouds, highs ranging from 35 to 45 and lows in the lower teen to single-digit range.
The chance for snow returns Tuesday and Wednesday, with little accumulation expected. Highs should approach 40 while lows should range from the teens to near zero.
Last week's high temperatures ranged from 35 to 46 degrees. The average high temperature was 42. Lows ranged from 3 to 13; the average low reading was 8. No new precipitation was measured in town during the past week.
The record high for January in Pagosa Country, 66, was recorded Jan. 15, 1944. The record low, minus 42, was recorded Jan. 13, 1963. Thirty-nine is the average January high in Pagosa; 4 is the average low.
Sports park master plan hearing scheduled Jan. 15
By Joe Lister Jr.
There will be a very important meeting in Town Hall at 4 p.m. Jan. 15 for all sports and park enthusiasts. At issue will be the master plan and future development of the 16 acres just east of the high school football field.
Plans are for a new soccer field, softball/baseball fields, skateboard park and water kayak/rafting outlet. Anyone and everyone with an interest in this park should attend this meeting.
EDAW, a consulting firm from Ft. Collins, has been hired to develop a master plan for the tract. As part of the process, we would like to hear from the public on issues concerning some of the town's recreational needs.
Put us on your calendar of events you need to attend in the month.
The 9 and 10-year-olds tipped off the new year with games which started Tuesday in the community center. All games will be played at the center Monday through Thursday, with some Saturday games. The 11 and 12-year-olds' tip off will be Jan. 11 at 9 a.m. with games running until 1 p.m.
Please come and support the young athletes playing basketball. It is a great time to see the new community center along with one of our most popular activities.
Advisory board vacancy
There is one opening on the park advisory board which meets the third Wednesday of each month. The board is advisory in regard to park planning, recreational activity problems, and future planning of the department.
We are in need of a person who enjoys youth and adult sports and the development and maintenance of our present park lands. Anyone interested in applying please call Joe Lister Jr. at 264-4151, Ext. 231.
We would like nominated individuals to attend the Jan. 15 meeting and the 5:30 p.m. meeting immediately afterward.
The parks and recreation department is interested in hiring a part-time ice skating instructor for beginners. If interested, please call the number given above.
Adult basketball games will begin in February. A team managers' meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. Jan. 16 in Town Hall. If you have any questions, contact Chris at 264-4151, Ext. 232.
Wrestlers look for improvement in second half of season
By Karl Isberg
Let's mix metaphors and say the Pirate wrestling team batted slightly less than .500 during the 2002 portion of the current season.
The reasons for a less-than- extraordinary start are clear: injuries to key athletes, forfeits at several weights and quality opponents.
Saturday, the second part of the season begins as the Pirates host the Rocky Mountain Invitational at the high school gymnasium.
One top-quality wrestler returns from the ranks of the injured, there will be fewer forfeits surrendered by the team, the quality of opponents will remain very high.
Coach Dan Janowsky thinks the team is making progress and will have a good outing.
Back with the Pirates after missing the first part of the season with a serious ankle and leg injury is Michael Martinez. The junior was tabbed as a contender for state Class 3A honors at 112 pounds before his injury during football season and his quick recovery spells good things for the team.
Martinez might wrestle off with Darren Hockett this week to see who goes at 112 and who fights at 119. Hockett has not yet dropped the pounds needed to compete at 103.
Mike Maestas had an excellent 2002 portion of the season and the senior figures to continue his winning ways at 125.
Janowsky has Justin Bloomquist ready to fight at 130 and Clifford Hockett brings his senior experience to the mat at 135.
Kory Hart seems ready to battle at 140 after losing his football weight and Aaron Hamilton is scheduled to compete at 145.
Senior Zeb Gill will be the Pirates' man at 152 at the Rocky and Clayton Mastin will fight at 160.
Matt Lattin will enter the ring at 171 this weekend; Marcus Rivas is back from injury and ready to go at 189 while Craig Lucero will compete at 215.
"I think we're making some adjustments," said Janowsky. "I've seen a lot of improvement at practice since the holiday break ended. This weekend, we'll try to work hard and wrestle consistently during each match. I want our guys to wrestle at a fast, consistent pace for six minutes each time out. I think we'll do all right. Having Michael back will help and I think we'll be vastly improved over what we were at the first of the season."
The lineup at the rocky will feature some premiere programs and top-level athletes. Slated to appear Saturday are teams from wrestling powerhouses Aztec, N.M. and Alamosa. Intermountain League foes Bayfield, Monte Vista, Centauri and Ignacio will be at the Rocky as will Durango, Center, Del Norte, Monticello, Utah, and Taos, N.M.
Action starts Saturday at the high school gym at 10 a.m.
Two non-league tilts will set stage for Pirates in IML
By Tom Carosello
After a three-week layoff, Pagosa Springs' boys varsity basketball team is gearing up for court battles pitting it against Durango Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Aztec, N.M., Monday at 7 p.m.
Saturday's game against the Class 5A Demons will be played at Durango High School, 2390 Main Ave. in Durango. The Pirates will be hosts for the Monday contest with the Aztec Tigers.
The Pirates, who boast an early-season overall record of 7-1, haven't played a game since Dec. 21 when they took the floor in the Pueblo Holiday Tournament. The Pirates emerged from the tournament having posted victories over Rye, St. Mary's and the Wasson junior varsity.
After the tournament, Coach Jim Shaffer's squad didn't practice again until Jan. 2. According to Shaffer, the 12-day respite helped alleviate some nagging minor injuries and allowed some of the players to recover from seasonal aches, pains and illness.
As a result, unless things take a turn for the worse between now and Saturday, Shaffer's troops will enter their upcoming matchups well-rested, healthy and ready for a return to the hardwood.
Over the past week, Shaffer said he directed his players through several practices designed to keep them sharp and in game-ready condition. Shaffer indicated emphasis was given to executing the offense with "the three big guys" on the floor at the same time.
"The three big guys" are 6-foot-6-inch senior Jason Schutz, 6-6 junior Clayton Spencer and 6-7 sophomore Caleb Forest. All present scoring and shot-blocking threats to opposing foes.
Most likely to be sharing the floor with Schutz, Spencer and Forest when the initial buzzer sounds Saturday are Pirate guards Brandon Charles and Ryan Goodenberger. The shifty Charles is a 5-10 senior. Goodenberger, who garnered most valuable player honors at the Pueblo tournament, is a 6-1 junior.
Ty Faber, Brandon Samples, Coy Ross, Otis Rand, Jeremy Caler, David Kern and Casey Belarde will support Pagosa's starting five.
Shaffer's main concern over the next two weeks will be fatigue; the Pirates will participate in no fewer than six contests in less than 14 days, an exhaustive schedule by anyone's standards.
After traveling to Durango Saturday and playing at home against Aztec Monday, the Pirates face Bloomfield at home Jan. 17, then take the home floor again when Centauri comes to town the next night, Jan. 18. The following week the Pirates travel to Ignacio Jan. 21, and Bayfield Jan. 24.
The coach said he and his team will learn what they can expect from the remainder of the season during that physically-demanding span. "We'll find out how good we are over the next two weeks," said Shaffer.
County salary evaluation study contract pending
By Tom Carosello
In their first session of the new year, Archuleta County commissioners were asked Tuesday to consider three salary survey bids designed to evaluate, among other things, compensation plans and job descriptions as they pertain to county employees.
After a recommendation by County Administrator Bill Steele, the commissioners accepted a proposal from Centennial-based management consultants Lee & Burgess Associates.
If awarded a contract to perform the survey, the firm will be expected to analyze and compare county salaries and job requirements with those of other select public entities and counties, as well as those in the private business sector.
Afterward, the differences and similarities will be presented to county management and elected officials to be used as a basis for future planning and budgeting goals.
"What attracted me to them was that they have a fair amount of experience in the public sector," said Steele. Lee & Burgess Associates has performed similar studies for Chaffee, Arapahoe, Morgan and Adams counties.
The survey will carry a price tag estimated at anywhere from $31,000 to $39,750. According to Steele, the higher amount is taking into account "a worst-case scenario, but I think we're in better shape than they thought we were."
Steele indicated the county budgeted nearly $57,000 to fund the salary survey and any recommendations the county may choose to act on as a result of the survey.
"We budgeted with the understanding that we wanted to get this done as soon as we could," said Steele. The county has set a preliminary target date for implementation of the survey findings for April of this year.
The commissioners conducted the following additional business Tuesday:
- approved a resolution setting the surety bond amount for the county treasurer at $125,000 and approved bond amounts for other county elected officials
- approved a resolution designating financial institutions in which the county treasurer may deposit county funds
- tabled until Jan. 14 a consideration of the 2002 Highway Users Tax Fund Report
- approved a contribution request from the San Juan Soil Conservation in the amount of $1,500
- approved a health plan service agreement for a flexible spending plan and authorized Steele as the signatory for the related accounts
- granted a request to change the Jan. 14 commissioners' meeting time to 9:30 a.m.
- approved a contract for the implementation of Sleuth software and granted a total expenditure of $77,423.50 for the software with the understanding that the county will eventually be reimbursed half of that amount
- granted renewal of a 3.2-percent beer retail liquor license to Piedra Store
- approved a request by County Maintenance Director Rich Foss for additional expenditure for the "panic button system" in the amount of $2,048
- approved a request by county planning staff for the re-plat of lots 27W and 27E in the Rio Blanco Valley Subdivision, Unit Three
- approved a request by county planning staff for the release of the maintenance bond for Fairfield Drive in Peregrine Phases 7 and 8 in the amount of $50,000 and authorized Board Chairman Bill Downey to sign
- thanked Commissioner Gene Crabtree for his dedication and service throughout his term as commissioner from District 3.
Bayfield snowmobiler dies on Beaver Meadows outing
By Tess Noel Baker
A Bayfield man snowmobiling with friends and family on Beaver Meadows Road Sunday died from an apparent heart attack.
Archuleta County Coroner Carl Macht said Paul Battershell, 54, was riding his snowmobile about nine miles up Beaver Meadows Road where it crosses the border between Archuleta and La Plata counties when he stopped and told those with him he wasn't feeling well.
Others used a cell phone to call for help, but when Upper Pine EMS personnel arrived at the scene, Battershell had no heartbeat.
Macht said Battershell had seen a cardiologist about three years ago, but had never followed up with treatment.
Ponderosa pine removal will close portions of Turkey Springs area
The Pagosa District of the San Juan National Forest will conduct fuels reduction treatments in the Turkey Springs area north of Pagosa Springs this winter, weather permitting.
Treatments involve mowing of oakbrush with a Hydromower and hand-thinning small diameter ponderosa pine trees.
The area to be treated with the Hydromower is located on the southwest side of the intersections of the Turkey Springs and Newt Jack roads (Forest Roads 629 and 923).
A Hydromower is a large, rubber-tired machine about the size of a front-end loader, with a horizontally mounted blade similar to a lawn mower blade, but much larger. It shreds and sends debris flying in a 300-foot radius.
Because of these hazards, the treatment area will be closed to entry during the operation of the Hydromower. The closure area includes a portion of the Turkey Springs cross-country ski and snowmobile trail system and portions of Turkey Springs and Newt Jack roads which are adjacent to the treatment area.
In order to implement the closure, Turkey Springs Road will be gated and closed to motorized wheeled vehicles during the treatment period. Depending on weather and road conditions, the road closure may continue through the winter to protect the road surface.
It is anticipated that the closure to entry will be for no more than two weeks. If snow depth is greater than one foot then the operation will be stopped until spring and the area will be reopened.
The hand-thinning area is adjacent to and east of Turkey Springs Road, approximately 2.25 miles west of Piedra Road. The cross-country trail crossing through the hand-thinning area will not be closed during thinning, however skiers need to be alert to cutting activities when in the area.
The fuel treatments are part of the National Fire Plan passed by Congress in 2000 to reduce the risk of severe wildfire, especially in the Wildland Urban Interface. The Turkey Springs area was identified by the Forest Service as a high priority area for fuels treatment because of the density of the forest and proximity to subdivisions. The objectives of the treatments are to thin the forest and reduce ladder fuels thus reducing the risk of crown fires.
For more information contact the Pagosa Ranger District at 264-2268 or stop by the office at 180 Pagosa St.
Returning from a two week vacation, I was shocked and saddened to find that innocent dogs and people were once again the victims of irresponsible dog owners.
I live in Vista and have observed the dog that was shot running loose on numerous occasions. I am certain that we have, per capita, more dogs running loose here than in any other area of Pagosa. I don't see anything changing until we have an animal control officer patrolling again and impounding all unrestrained dogs.
Hefty fees should be imposed on their owners to retrieve them with the amount increasing each time they are cited.
Just yesterday, I hit a dog running across Bonanza when I was unable to stop in time on the icy street. It ran away so I don't know if it was injured or not. I love dogs and it makes me furious when they are allowed to roam at will in populated areas.
How many more dog packs are going to be allowed to form and wreak havoc on lives and property before something is done?
Need a system
My heart goes out to Garrett Carothers and his family. I wish Garrett a fast and complete recovery. This letter is in no way meant to disrespect his family or their crisis.
I am responding to Heather Hunts' letter. While I agree that dogs should not be allowed to run free and owners need to be responsible and keep their dogs properly fenced and or chained, I don't believe you can say it is "common sense" that all pit bulls, regardless of bite history should be penned at all times in a concrete based enclosure with an enclosed roof.
Not all pit bulls are vicious. I used to have one that was a lap dog. Not all chows, rotts or shepherds are vicious. It is wrong to use such stereotypes no matter what information you get off the Internet. Are you forgetting that we live in a community where mountain lions and bears and other dangerous animals roam free? Should we build a big concrete zoo for all of these animals as well? Keeping dogs penned in a concrete enclosure is cruel and can make them more vicious.
We should have a system against dogs-at-large. When dogs run free together the pack mentality can make a normally kind dog dangerous.
There are many options other than breed restrictions and mandatory liability insurance for certain breeds. Talk to the owners first. Then talk to the sheriff. We can protect each other and our animals by communicating our concerns before such horrible acts take place.
I guess my point is that while we need to protect people and children from all dangerous animals we need to figure out a way to do so humanely and with love. It is possible.
I'm so sorry Garrett.
On Saturday, Dec. 28, at about 2 p.m. as I drove out of town in my red Monte Carlo and approached the Piedra Road turnoff, I encountered a criminal on the highway, a vengeful potential killer.
This criminal was a woman in (perhaps) her thirties, blonde hair and driving an SUV dark in color and bearing California license plates. I was in the inside lane driving at the speed limit, which is 45 m.p.h. I was headed west, so I had to be in the inside lane to continue west.
She pulled up on my right side at a high rate of speed and began mouthing obscenities (I guess) and shouting at us to move out of her way. Apparently I was driving too slowly to suit her egregious and reckless behavior. Driving the speed limit for most drivers is intolerable and unacceptable. I was an obstacle for her.
She then drove her vehicle alongside mine with total disregard for both her safety and ours, forcing me out of her way and almost sideswiping the right side of my vehicle, forcing me to jam on my brakes and swerve into the oncoming lane to keep from being hit by her vehicle.
In my haste and anger I did not get her license plate number and did not report this incident to the local police but if I had, I don't know if our local cops or state patrol would have done anything about it. I surmise it would have depended on who she was - if she was local.
As an ex-police officer in your town, I estimate this flagrant violation of law and aggressive behavior amounts to criminal negligence or vehicular assault.
Any comments local officers? Would politics dictate who does or does not get charged?
This woman very obviously gets her license for recklessness from influence.
Are out of town people moving into our once small and relatively peaceful community bringing their filthy habits with them to victimize law abiding citizens?
Posted 45 m.p.h. means 45 m.p.h., not 55, 65 or 75. No wonder we hear so much about road rage in our communities and on our highways. For sure, there is no shortage of stupidity to go around to affect everyone.
Was this criminal a local citizen or one of those who should have stayed in California?
Flora Vista, N.M.
The call came loud and clear: time to retrieve my soapbox from deep storage! I sense a rolling snowball was formed when one of our own innocent 8-year-olds, Garrett Carothers, was nearly mauled to death recently by two vicious, twice-cited dogs. Perhaps we can join forces and halt this snowball before it quickly turns into an avalanche that could easily bury our beloved town under complacency, misinterpreted promises, and misdirected intentions.
Unlike many other tragedies, this one could have and should have been prevented. So where did we go wrong? What could WE have done? First of all, I believe each of us must be willing to take some of the responsibility. This is not just Richard and Cindy Carothers' child. In a town of our size, these children belong to all of us. When a young one's innocence and childhood has been ripped away from him, we all suffer that loss.
Before going any further, I want to honor the very fine line between citizen rights to choose our own "pets" and citizen rights to safe and cared-for neighborhoods, whether we live in Vista, (where this and previous attacks have been documented), the Meadows, San Juan River Village, Aspen Springs, etc., regardless of income, race or position in the community! We deserve to be able to walk down our streets and feel comfortable and safe doing so. Garrett was not given this right. As a result, his "inner" scars may never heal. His outer scars need a lot of care and attention. Yes, we can and will donate to the fund set up for him at Vectra Bank. But we must not let our caring end there. Money is important at this time, but it is not enough, it must not be our bottom line. Let us each search our hearts to see how we are called to respond to this incident. Are our pets ever a threat to anyone? Are we willing to get involved when we see or hear a "wrong-doing" in our neighborhood? Are we willing to speak our truth loud and clear even if we may alienate someone? Are we willing to write a letter to an editor, call the sheriff, or the neighborhood association to right a wrong?
l believe the heart and soul of Pagosa Springs is at stake here. To keep a heart alive and beating, one has to keep the blood flowing. Let this be our goal; let this become our Pagosa "family pledge": to each do our part to help create the community we want and deserve, a heaven on earth in the here and now.
I live 3 1/2 miles south on U.S. 84, not exactly "out in the country," since I can see at least 20 homes from my house.
On New Year's Eve day two large dogs, one a yellow Lab and the other a black Lab, came on my deck and killed my Manx cat, who had two kittens.
They disemboweled her and shook her until her neck and back were broken. They were not frightened when I tried to chase them away - one stared at me, with the cat in its mouth, until I threw the cat's dish (the only thing handy) at them, finally running away.
I don't understand why dog owners don't take care of their dogs and keep them in their own yards, instead of letting them run wild, especially after reading in The SUN about the child that was attacked by dogs and hurt so badly.
Fair warning: When the dogs come back in my yard to kill the kittens, they will be done away with.
This is my yard, my deck and my kittens.
Well, it has finally happened. An 8-year-old child has been torn asunder by two vicious dogs at large.
How long have we who live in Pagosa Vista been telling the PLPOA and sheriff's department this was an imminent danger? How long have we been reporting dogs running free to the PLPOA only to be told to call the sheriff, only to be told to call PLPOA. For me it has been the nine years I've lived in Vista.
Every day, I walk my dog around my neighborhood or down to Martinez Canyon. I carry mace and a big stick. I have used both to protect myself from dogs running at me, hackles up, teeth bared, usually two or three at a time. I report it but nothing is done. Since Garret was attacked, I carry my gun.
PLPOA rules and regulations clearly state it is against applicable laws to harbor dangerous, aggressive and nuisance barking dogs or to allow dogs to roam at large.
It also states these laws shall be enforced by an animal control specialist. Neither PLPOA nor the sheriff have made a dent in the dogs-at-large problem. I would like to see both entities sued for neglect - neglect resulting in irreparable damage to an 8-year-old child, his family and, indeed, our entire little community. Children (or adults) are not safe here any more.
Lawsuits and money will not make up for the terror and damage inflicted on Garrett and his family but it may, finally, get the attention of those whose chosen job is to enforce laws and protect the innocent. Victims should be given restitution and even the opportunity, if they so desire, to meet face-to-face with those who hurt them or neglected their duty to protect them so the traumatized are not left to deal with unknown wounds inside haunting them for the rest of their lives.
Many in Vista have dogs bred for attack or protection - pit bulls and Rottweilers. They, for the most part, have them because of the high crime rate here - drugs, dealers and break-ins rather go hand-in-hand. We have learned we can count on neither PLPOA nor the county to enforce dog laws nor to protect us from lawbreakers.
A dangerous circle has been created: fear, dogs for protection, carelessness and neglect by owners for the safety of others by not having these dogs securely restrained, free-roaming dogs causing more danger and more fear. It is the law. How many warnings are given to a drunk driver before he or she is taken into custody? Is an unrestrained pit bull less dangerous than a drunk driver?
My heart goes out to Garrett, his family and all the children no longer able to play safely, even in their own front yards. My rage at the "buck passing" between PLPOA and the sheriff concerning this dog-at-large issue is unspeakable.
Donations can be deposited at Vectra Bank, 643 San Juan St. for the Garret Carothers Medical Fund.
Your contemplative editorial in the Jan. 2 SUN regarding our community's dog control dilemma has prompted this resident to leap into the discourse. Why not? Dialogue is healthy and can be productive - even when dim-witted.
After heavy pressure from many in our community for years, the "Three Amigos" gave up and finally decided to focus some of our tax dollars on something worthwhile and fund an animal control officer for the county. Even though they were months late and are still many dollars short, it's a concrete beginning. Unfortunately, whenever the Amigos have dealt with concrete in the past, it has never set very well with a majority of county voters.
However, it was noble of the Amigos, with all of their power and influence, to ensure that when some of the tax pig was divided for 2003, this time the residents would get a little of the ham and pork steak, and not have to settle for pig's feet and snouts, like paved taxiways, etc.
If the Amigos believe they can solve a growing problem by hiring a lone animal control officer, they are only fooling themselves. Crisis management always results in folly and usually ends as a useless endeavor left unfinished.
In order for the newly hired animal control officer to even have a chance to establish a viable animal control department to cover the entire county and execute a program that works, he will need at least two more people to provide 24-hour coverage everyday of the year.
Anything less will produce failure.
Once the irresponsible pet owners in the community realize they are facing an accountability driven animal control department and court system, time spent in front of a judge will decrease, their wallets will contain more cash, and neighborhoods will be much safer.
Why can't the town render some assistance to this countywide solution? They could very easily participate and strengthen the newly forming animal control department at the same time.
Currently, the town employs a part-time dog catcher with a 2002 salary of $10.82 per hour. I'm certain the mayor of Pagosa Springs could work an agreement with the Three Amigos and turn this position over to the county animal control officer as a town-funded "full-time" contribution.
With this additional help, the newly formed county animal control department would then also cover the town. And, I'm confident they could put the vehicle utilized by the current part time dog catcher to excellent use.
So seize the opportunity, Mr. Mayor - join in a positive team solution. Town sales tax revenues keep going up every year. Utilize a very tiny portion of those increasing funds for something the entire county will support.
You've got 24 years of clout with the community. Let's see you make it happen. Take it to the city council and see what they say. Your effort certainly wouldn't hurt anybody; and it could help prevent future tragedies.
Editor's note: The mayor of the town of Pagosa Springs does not make unilateral decisions concerning town policy. The mayor is merely one member of the board of trustees and it is that body that sets policy.
This week on Meet the Press, both former chiefs of staff, General Brent Scowcroff and General Zbignew Bryzinski stated unequivocally that war with Iraq was not necessary and other containments were the only sane approach. I know some of you will not accept this. I guess a lot of us believe the president's words and a lot do not. We all seem to accept the opinions of the experts with which we agree.
Time to renew Archuleta Senior Citizen memberships
By Janet Copeland
January is the time to renew your membership in Archuleta Senior Citizens Inc.
The cost is still $3 a year; members must be over 55. Membership provides a wonderful host of services, discounts and information. Some of the businesses offering discounts to our members are Best Western Lodge (swimming, Jacuzzi and sauna free on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9-11 a.m.); The Springs ($4 pass); Spa Motel pool ($5 pass); Edelweiss (10-percent discount); Chokecherry Tree (15-percent discount on purchases over $20). With membership you will also receive the Senior Newsletter.
Now that the holidays are past and we have all blown our diets, we are excited to be exercising as a part of the new Colorado on the Move Walking Program, which kicked off Monday. If you missed it, please contact Musetta or Laura to get signed up.
We will be walking Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the multipurpose room at the Community Center. As long as the supply lasts, pedometers will be issued to those who sign up. If you continue the program for three months, you may keep the pedometer.
A big thank you to Jann Pitcher and Associates for their donation to our walking program. We really appreciate your help.
Also, thanks go to Bonnie from Slices of Nature for donating coffee for our holiday meal; to the 4-H Club for caroling to our shut-ins and serving lunch to our seniors; to Rich Harris for magazines, videos and a holiday village; to Dr. Gerlinda Ehni for the gingerbread house; and to the folks who stuffed 6,000 envelopes and folded newsletters.
We appreciated Laura Bedard's presentation Wednesday on "Know the Warning Signs of Malignant Melanoma," and we thank Dr. Susan Saunders for providing the basic information. This is something we all need to be informed about as many people in this area seem to be affected by it.
Our Volunteer of the Month is Marjorie Nevitt, who has been instrumental in keeping our library in order.
Congratulations to our Senior of the Week - John Walker. John is fairly new to our group and we are so honored to have him and his wife, Carolyn, join us.
Our guests and returning members are always appreciated. This week we welcome Linea and Mattie McGraw, Abby Linzie, Richard Feldt Sr. (from Illinois), Rita Moody, Christopher White (Bill Miller's grandson), Chris Betrix, Art and Ramona Ruiz, Jim and Marie Corcoran.
Musetta needs more volunteers for January's calendar. Please contact her at 264-2167 if you can donate a few hours.
The transportation department has become a separate entity from the Silver Foxes Den. It has a new table for trip sign-ups - a table just outside Cindy's office for the specific use of arranging trips and accounting for people.
This new system should help the department run more efficiently and allow users to have a specific contact person when they need more information. Call Cindy at 264-6371 for more information.
Our free movie, "A Walk to Remember," will be shown Friday in the senior lounge at 1 p.m. Popcorn will be available for 25 cents a bag.
The Grief and Loss Program is now meeting at Dr. Deb Parker's office, 475 Lewis St. Suite 206. For more information call 946-9001.
Moves to limit care signal need for early sign-up
By Andy Fautheree
It seems like I write about VA Health Care most often in this column. It is the benefit most veterans qualify for, some with as little as one day of active military duty and an honorable discharge.
It is also one of the most popular veteran benefits since it is not income based and many of our Archuleta County veterans do not have any health insurance.
Now, with the realization of the Durango VA Clinic, I suspect VA Health Care will be even more popular. Currently our veterans have been traveling to Farmington, Albuquerque, Chama or Grand Junction for their VA health care.
Surprisingly many of the new veteran contacts I make have lived here for quite a while. Others are new retirees coming to our wonderful area to live. I often meet veterans on the street or in my daily routines around the courthouse.
The winds can always change when it comes to VA benefits. Veterans Affairs programs are often funded and approved on a yearly basis by Congress. Lately there have been some moves to limit VA Health Care, or increase the costs, in certain low priority levels.
I strongly urge every veteran to sign up for VA Health Care as soon as possible. We have already seen many VA Health Care facilities restrict accepting new applications. This currently includes the Farmington VA Clinic, Albuquerque VA Hospital, Grand Junction VAMC, and Denver VA Hospital.
I'm glad to say that this column is one of the main ways I reach veterans. Many veterans also listen to the show I host every Monday night on KWUF radio from 6-9 p.m. I play 40s, 50s and 60s music and dedicate it to our veterans.
I also meet many veterans when I visit the Silver Foxes Den Senior Center the first Friday of each month. I will also have a table at the Health Fair in April. Frequently new veterans visit or call this office at the urging of their spouses. I'm located in the basement of the Archuleta County Courthouse next to the driver's license office, so I frequently meet new veterans who see my Veterans Service Office sign as they are registering to get a new Colorado driver's license.
My office has all the latest information on VA Health Care and all the other great VA benefits. I have all the forms computerized to minimize the time it takes to fill them out. I also attend training conferences to keep my veteran benefits skills sharpened.
We have a very supportive community for veterans affairs. I believe much more so than many other Colorado counties. For instance, Archuleta County government now supports two vehicles for the sole purpose of transporting veterans to their health care appointments.
Archuleta County government purchased a new transport vehicle in 1999, which now has over 135,000 miles on it. We were very fortunate in 2002 to successfully apply for a $25,000 grant to the Colorado Veteran Trust Fund to purchase a much-needed new, second vehicle. This was a cooperative effort between our local American Legion Post 108 and Archuleta County government. American Legion is the grantee and Archuleta County provides the maintenance, insurance, etc. The Veterans Service Office coordinates and schedules use of these two vehicles by our local veterans who do not have adequate transportation of their own to their VA Health Care appointments. The veteran need only supply the fuel and make sure the vehicle is clean at the end of the trip, ready for the next veteran.
I believe this was one of only two such vehicle grants made by the trust fund in 2002. And, with the state budget cuts looming, it may have been the right call at the right time. This money may not be available for these purposes for a while.
Next time you see a county commissioner or other county government personnel, tell them thanks for their support to veterans. Proudly, we can say that, working together, Archuleta County provides some of the best veteran services of any county in the state. Just one more reason we can take pride in our community.
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 Web site 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 afautheree @archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., 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.
January doldrums will be short-lived
By Sally Hameister
The holidays are officially over when we are told by various news pundits that Jan. 5 marked the busiest travel day of the year as folks returned to their homes, jobs, schools and some semblance of normalcy after the madness of December. Lucky for you, the January doldrums need only carry on until Jan. 18, when we party down in fine fashion at our big annual membership celebration and awards ceremony, the Mardi Gras.
This year we are back at Pagosa Lodge beginning at 6 p.m. with five rooms, four of which will feature authentic Cajun fare in true New Orleans tradition. In the Bayou, you will find Jambalaya, crab cakes and fried catfish, and the French Quarter will boast Cajun-spiced chicken strips and hush puppies. Bourbon Street will offer a cash bar, pretzels and peanuts, and the Red Hot Jazz Room will top off the food chain with pralines, beignets and the ever-lovin' Mardi Gras must, a real-life King Cake. Those of you who are familiar with our Mardi Gras blast know that you can win a free year's membership in the Chamber if you are lucky enough to find the baby in your piece of King Cake. Dick Warring was the deserving winner last year and was pleased as punch.
After you have visited all four food stations, around 7:30, we will all head into the Ponderosa Room for our meeting and awards presentations. This year we are dedicated to making it as short and to the point as possible even with the addition of some new and different surprise awards acknowledging some very special people in our community who richly deserve special recognition. We will award Pagosa Pride certificates, Citizen of the Year and Volunteer of the Year awards, surprise awards and sadly bid adieu to our outgoing board directors, Mark DeVoti, Liz Marchand and Bonnie Masters.
All who attend will receive complimentary souvenir beads, masks and cups, and prizes will be awarded for the best male and female costumes. Costumes are certainly not required, but we love to see you arrive in costumes because it just seems to make the evening so much more festive. This will also be your last opportunity to vote for the three new board directors if you haven't already done so. The SUN was good enough to publish the pictures and profiles of the six candidates in last week's edition, but we have plenty at the Visitor Center if you need to refresh your memory. Please exercise one of your most valuable Chamber benefits, that of voting for the folks who comprise the governing body of our fine organization.
Please note that we have not raised the price of admission this year in an effort to accommodate the "squeeze" that all of us are feeling with the mercurial economy. We didn't raise the membership dues for the same reason and are trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone to attend all the events and functions. Again this year, the price is $25 per person pre-purchase and $30 at the door, and we ask you to RSVP by the end of day Jan.14. Please join us for the Chamber premier party of the year featuring great food, great awards and lots and lots of fun. Call us with questions at 264-2360.
Basics of watercolor
Instructors Ginnie Bartlett and Denny Rose in association with the Pagosa Springs Arts Council are pleased to offer an in-depth workshop on the basics of watercolor at the Pagosa Springs Community Center. Beginning today, for three successive Thursdays, this course will offer all the things you need to know about materials and techniques to save you hours of trial and error on your paintings. You'll learn about new ways of working, new materials and new ideas for creating your own works of art.
Half of each session will include lectures and exercises and the other half will be spent on your painting implementing the new techniques. Each day will also include the study of one of the three critical materials of watercolor other than water: brushes, paints and paper.
These sessions will begin at 9 a.m. each Thursday and continue until around 3:30 p.m. The price is $90 for all three sessions with a 10 percent discount for arts council members, and you are asked to bring your own lunch. Please call 264-5020 with questions.
Ski and save
The Wolf Creek Ski Area will offer a Ski and Save with United Way day Jan. 15 and will donate a part of the proceeds to United Way. Just $32 will allow you to ski all day long and Ski and Bow Rack is offering free ski and snowboard rental. The folks at Switchback Mountain Gear and Apparel will be giving on-slope demonstrations of new products, so this will give you an opportunity to try them out. Take advantage of this great offer to save some dough of your own and to help out United Way of Southwest Colorado all in one fell swoop.
As always, the Pagosa Spring Arts Council will be holding their photography contest during the month of February. This means that all you shutter bugs out their need to get cracking. January 29 is the deadline for entries and that day is fast approaching. Each entry is only $4. If you have never been to this show you are really missing out. Each year Pagosa's local talent shows off at this contest and the results are always stunning! Entries will be displayed in Moonlight Books for the month of February for all to see. If you like taking pictures, pick out one or two of your favorites and get them into the show. Entry forms can be picked up at Moonlight Books, Mountain Snapshots or the Pagosa Springs Arts Council Gallery in Town Park.
The Fort Lewis Small Business Development Center will offer a 12-week course entitled Nx Entrepreneurial Training, starting Jan. 22. The class is targeted toward existing and some start-up businesses that want to develop their business management skills. The class will cover a variety of key business management areas including business goals/mission statements, market research, legal structures, customer profiles, understanding financial statements, financial planning and much more. The final course product needed to graduate will be a business plan for your business. Tuition for the class is $250. For more information, a class schedule, or application contact Joe Keck at 247-7009 or email@example.com.
Along with ushering in the New Year, we are delighted to usher in three new members and four renewals. Drum roll, please.
A hearty welcome to Rachelle Ward who brings us Snow Country Adventure Tours, formerly owned by Dick Ray. These folks offer guided snowmobile tours in the spectacular San Juan National Forest for every level of expertise from beginner to advanced riders. They will be happy to answer all your questions and give you all the information you need if you call 264-SNOW (7669).
These next two ladies have joined us as associate members, and we are so glad they have chosen to join us because they are both terrific Chamber Cheerleaders. Betty J. Hayes is one of our valued Chamber Diplomats and Sherry R. Neill attends many of our events and gives us great support. They were recruited by Char Neill, yet another Diplomat, who will be rewarded with a pass to the February SunDowner being hosted by Pagosa Photography and Security Contractors.
Our renewals this week include John Steinert with Juan's Mountain Sports; Steve Schwartz with Spectrum Construction; Elizabeth Young with Head to Toe Salon and Boutique; and Richard Hodgson with Bad Moon Rodeo located in Blanco, New Mexico. We're grateful to all these folks and to each and every Chamber member for their continued confidence and support. Without you, well, who would need us?
Federal tax forms are in, not state's
By Lenore Bright
We have a few of the federal tax forms but no state ones yet. They tell us they will probably not come until Feb. 1. Last year they didn't come until March so we are not holding our breath. And we still don't have the book of additional forms to be Xeroxed.
This year our count is skewed because we switched circulation systems and issued new cards.
We now have 2,703 patrons holding new library cards. There were 7,771 patrons in the old system.
Over 70,000 items were checked out during 2002. We have 28,746 items in our collection. The value of the collection is $597,732.
By next year we will be straightened out on all counts. Be sure and come in and sign up for your new library card.
We had 6,600 patrons use our three public Internet computers. Books on tape accounted for 14 percent of checkouts; adult fiction - 24 percent; children's materials - 19 percent; nonfiction - 27 percent. We're doing much more reference work on-line. Last year 45 patrons signed up to use Value Line. Our volunteers gave us 1,748 hours of work. We processed 1,731 new items. We borrowed 842 books from other libraries.
We are grateful to the 37 volunteers who helped with the year-end inventory and clean-up. Mary Jo Coulehan catered the luncheon for the hardworking crew.
Patsy Broyles, one of our volunteers helping with the inventory, came across a book with her daughter's picture in it. Chris Broyles is on Page 61 of "High Country Trail: Along the Continental Divide," by National Geographic.
"Hiking Colorado's Geology," by Ralph and Lindy Hopkins gives 50 hikes revealing our dramatic geologic story. According to the authors, Colorado is located at the crossroads of three of the continent's most distinctive geologic landscapes. The Colorado Plateau, the High Plains, and the mountains rise up to form the Rockies. We are in the right spot for the study of geology.
"Who Says Elephants Can't Dance," by Louis Gerstner, Jr. is the inside story of how Gerstner saved IBM. It tells of the competitive and cultural transformation, and his campaign to rebuild the leadership team and give the workforce a renewed sense of purpose.
Carol Fulenwider has finished the first book mark but we are trying to find a distributor of cord for the tassels. If any of you know of such a source, please let us know. Friends of the Library volunteers will be putting them together once we have the cord.
Thanks for materials from Lyn DeLange, Zoetera Production Company, Virginia Bartlett and Mark Thompson. Next week we'll list the current donors to the building fund.
Jim and Mary Candy own and operate The Club, Pagosa's newest full-service health club.
The Club is located at 451 Lewis St. in downtown Pagosa Springs and features a cardio room, a free-weight room and a large aerobics room offering 23 weekly classes.
Yoga, youth and toddler programs, spa/massage services and a coffee and juice bar are planned for the future.
The club has opened its doors for sign-ups and workouts and everyone is invited to stop in for a tour of the facility.
For information, call 264-2880.
Step by step
New program encourages people to walk more
By Tess Noel Baker
Ready. Set. Go.
Colorado on the Move, a simple recipe for improving physical activity levels on a daily basis by making "every step count," has reached Pagosa Springs.
Monday, a group of about 40 seniors gathered in the multipurpose room of the Pagosa Springs Community Center to hear the details.
"We waited until January for those New Year's resolutions to start walking," Joann Guckert said before outlining the program.
"All kinds of studies have shown that moderate exercise has tremendous health benefits," she said. "If you get out there and walk you're going to feel better."
The goal is for participants to increase the number of steps they take each day by 2,000 by the end of the 14-week program.
Participants in "Foxy Walkers," the name for this newest branch of Colorado on the Move, will wear a pedometer, a small piece of equipment that is worn at the waistline, to keep track of the number of steps taken each day.
For the first six or seven days, Gruckert said, participants need to find their baseline number of steps, or the number of steps they walk in a regular week. That means wearing the pedometer during waking hours and noting the number of steps recorded. From there, depending on the person's health, they will set a goal for the two and a half month program.
"In 15 to 20 minutes, spread over the course of your day, you can easily beat your baseline number by about 2,000 steps," according to one pamphlet provided by Colorado on the Move. That may have to be adjusted for those who have back injuries or knee replacement, Guckert said. "You make up your own goal to suit your needs."
Even a little can be a big help.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine from August of 1999 showed women who walk briskly - about three miles per hour - can reduce their risk of heart attacks as much as women who exercise vigorously, according to "Keep Active: Get Movin'," a flier produced by the American Association of Retired Persons. Brisk walking for three to four hours per week, 30 minutes a day, can reduce the risk of heart attacks in women by 30-40 percent.
And it's not just for women. Research shows physical activity can help prevent at least six diseases: heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and mental disorders such as depression, that can be a problem for both sexes.
To encourage the group's commitment, several incentives are being offered.
First, and perhaps most important this time of year, walkers will have a safe, dry surface to walk on. The multipurpose room at the community center on Hot Springs Boulevard will be open for walkers from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. About 15 laps around the outside of the court will equal an extra mile, Guckert said. In terms of steps, between 2,000 and 2,200 equals a mile depending on the length of stride.
She also encouraged people to add in a warm-up and cool down period to ensure muscles, including the heart, are properly prepared for exertion.
"You can begin and end by stretching or walk slower at the beginning and end of the walk which is what I do," she said. A good warm-up should last at least five minutes. The cool-down can be about three minutes.
Water is another key ingredient, she added. Some 60 percent of the body's weight is fluid, and losing just 5 percent of body fluid can cause headache pain, fatigue, confusion, forgetfulness and an elevated heart rate. Taking frequent sips of water throughout the day, especially during physical exertion, can help prevent that loss.
Volunteers will be on-site most days to help walkers record their steps in a log book and participants can get matched up with a walking "buddy" if they wish.
"We'll have peppy music playing," Guckert added.
Second, members of the Silver Foxes Den who complete the two and a half month program, get to keep their pedometers for free. Otherwise, the cost is $12.
"We hope by that time you're going to be a walker," Guckert said.
Participants also received a free water bottle donated by the Pagosa Welcoming Service, a packet of healthy-living information to take home and an identification card. The cards will help the senior center staff keep track of the pedometers over the 14-week period and provide important information if any medical problems occur while people are walking at the community center.
But walking indoors is just one option.
"You can walk at home," Guckert said. " You can walk out-of-town." That's one of the great things about the program. Walking is easy. Increasing the daily average of steps is easy. It requires no equipment and can be done at no cost.
To be a Coloradan on the Move just requires thinking of ways to take more steps in a day. That can mean everything from actually walking to the television set to change the channel, or parking farther from the grocery store doors, to actually increasing the time taken each week to go for a walk. It's all recorded on the pedometer worn at the waistline.
The program is even used in the schools in some places, Gruckert said. Everyone, from kindergartners to seniors can participate and reap the benefits.
Right now, Musetta Wollenweber, director of the senior center said, the pedometers are reserved for the seniors, but anyone is invited to purchase one of their own, or simply come for a walk when the multipurpose room is open.
Currently, the program is being funded through a $500 grant from Senior Wellness Initiatives/Colorado Trust and an additional $250 donation from Jann C. Pitcher and Associates here in Pagosa Springs.
When they first received the grant, Wollenweber said, it was back in October. From there, a team of five met twice a week to brainstorm. "Foxy Walkers" is the result. Besides Wollenweber, the team includes, Guckert, Laura Bedard, Donna Modarelli and Marilyn McPeek.
For more information on this or any other senior programs, call Wollenweber at 264-2167.
Crossing Wolf Creek in winter is a relatively recent innovation
By John M. Motter
It's hard to imagine living in Pagosa Country without Wolf Creek Pass.
Yet the early settlers never dreamed of whisking smoothly across the San Juan Mountains in less than an hour, munching comfort foods, listening to the radio, surrounded by cool or warm air as the occasion demands, and surrounded by padding and all manner of comforts.
Wolf Creek Pass opened during the summer of 1916. Until the opening, the route had never been used for entering or leaving the San Juan Basin. Pioneers did not cross Wolf Creek Pass. They couldn't, even on horseback. The terrain was impassable for anything less than a mountain goat, according to old-timers. For many years after Wolf Creek Pass was built, it was passable only during the summer. Crossing Wolf Creek during winter months is a relatively recent innovation.
Opening Wolf Creek Pass was a big deal. Colorado's governor attended the ribbon cutting. One could scarcely overestimate the benefit Wolf Creek brought, and still brings, to the entire San Juan Basin.
Riding in one of the first cars to cross the new pass was Myrtle Hersch, the wife of Dave Hersch and mother of Joe and Marguerite Hersch. The Hersch's were an early Pagosa merchant family. Members of that family still live in the area.
Fortunately for us, Myrtle wrote down her memories of that epic adventure. We quote:
"In February of 1916, our Chalmers car was shipped from Pagosa Springs by Denver and Rio Grande narrow gauge railroad to Santa Fe, New Mexico, as the town was snowed in at that time of the year. There, our family consisting of my husband David, our thirteen-year-old son Joseph, and small daughter Marguerite and I began a leisurely tour of 6,000 miles through warmer, and lower altitude states. We planned our homecoming over the new pass, later in the summer, from the east side.
"At that time there were none of the luxury motels as of today, so we carried a complete camping equipment with us for comfortable living either inside or out in the wide open spaces. We did little real camping - liked the hotels better. Tent setting we found difficult for soft hands, so took the easier way, and kept our overnight bags easily within reach.
"On our return we spent some time in Denver, where we bought a new seven-passenger Cadillac V-8 car while the Chalmers was being painted and reconditioned. Joseph went into the Cadillac garage and worked and became quite an expert at placing cars, tire changing, greasing, and what have you. At that time there were not the rules and regulations for drivers that we have now.
"The report came that the pass would be opened shortly, so we started on our way home - David and Marguerite in the Chalmers and Joseph and I in the Cadillac following. When we reached Decker Creek work camp, high up on the mountainside above the present Decker creek bridge, we found my sister, and her two teenage sons, Eugene and George Hatcher already camped. They were returning from a trip through the Ozarks, and were also waiting to cross the pass. The highway engineer informed us it would be a few more days, as heavy rockwork had delayed their progress. What was a few more days, what with the semi-permanent camp, good fishing, best of cold mountain water, and big spruce trees about? Besides, it gave us a chance to really try our equipment.
"On July 26, a messenger came to tell us the engineer would come at ten o'clock in the morning to line us up for the trip over. By this time two more cars had joined us. We were to break camp and put our car tops down, because of protruding rocks over the road. There were no hard-topped cars then. During the night, we had a regular downpour of rain. A very difficult task, packing up in the mud. Clouds hung heavy over the mountains, but we were all ready to roll on time. The engineer started Mr. and Mrs. Vrendenburg in front in a Ford roadster, then Mr. and Mrs. Goodnight of Monte Vista in a Buick, the Hatchers in a Velie, third in line, then the Chalmers and Cadillac last, as the heavier cars might mess up the road for the other cars - to use his words.
"While in camp, David and I walked down the narrow steep grade to the open flats below, and even when dry it looked rather hazardous as it was only a few inches wider than the camp wagon tracks. A wall of rock on one side, and straight down on the other; but the engineer assured us it was all right, for it was well packed, but not to drive too close together to make room for possibilities.
"We were happy to be on our way again, although it looked as if we might have another downpour any minute. We felt, too, we were making history, being the first group of cars over the hill."
Motter's comment: Next week we will continue Mrs. Hersch's first-person description of the first group of cars crossing Wolf Creek Pass.
Conserve water, now
We face a number of pressing problems in Archuleta County whose solutions must be pursued in a timely manner. Among them is the long-standing problem of road maintenance - a predicament that is not likely to be resolved soon. Planning and the implementation of a full set of regulations to deal with continued growth must take a form that satisfies the majority of citizens. The growing task of animal control, lately in the headlines, faces local officials and something must be done before the often dangerous condition caused by stray animals is completely out of hand.
These are situations that can be dealt with by government. We should expect it; we pay taxes to have these problems corrected or substantially mitigated.
Because of their visibility, it is easy to focus attention on these problems as the new year begins, hoping the next 12 months will bring actions that produce successful results. This time of year, it is also easy to ignore what could be our biggest problem in 2003.
A continuing shortage of water.
A drive across Wolf Creek Pass produces visible evidence that our water shortage is not only still with us, but could be as great or greater than last year.
There is not a lot of snow in the high country certainly not the amount needed to make up the deficit caused by the recent extreme drought. There is approximately 80-percent of normal snowpack and moisture content in our local mountains, but several dry weeks would drive that percentage down dramatically.
The water problem is one we pay taxes to deal with but we must rely on nature to provide the resource. We can't trust that storms will arrive, bringing heavy spring snows and early summer rain. We must take steps now to deal with what could become dire reality in a short time.
Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District is laboring to ensure we have adequate water storage for the next season, spending our tax dollars to keep the Dutton Ditch open for the second winter in the history of the district to put as much water as possible into Lake Hatcher. The district began filling the lake as soon as its water rights came into priority and will keep the flow going as long as possible. The San Juan River diversion south of the town of Pagosa Springs has kept Lake Forest full and the Vista water treatment plant running. The district completed engineering and is ordering materials to connect Village Lake to Lake Forest via a 3,000-foot pipeline, allowing Village Lake to be filled with river water.
The district is planning major improvements to the Dutton Ditch - one of its main supply routes - and plans expansion and improvement of reservoir capacity using revenues approved by the voters last year.
The district is doing its best to avert a crisis, yet only one of its storage areas is full; the others remain 25 to 72 inches below the spillways.
The omen is clear.
Like the animal control problem, the water shortage problem is one that many residents of the county can play a part in solving. We should work to conserve water now. We need to remain conscious of the amount of water we use. We can install water-saving devices and appliances; we can demand water saving measures be part of new construction and remodels. We can take short showers and run only full loads in dish and clothes washing machines. We can recycle water to irrigate houseplants. We can landscape our properties with no need of heavy irrigation.
Now is the time.
The savings we accrue will benefit us as the year proceeds to summer; the habits we develop can fortify our existence in this semi-arid environment for years to come.
Winter Pagosa-style, is for kids
By Richard Walter
Walking Pagosa on New Year's Day proved an old theorem has not been supplanted: Winter is for children.
Whether sledding, skating, snowboarding, or just getting out into the fresh air, they were everywhere. In the restaurants, mini-marts and groceries, at the movies, on the skating pond, on the in-town slopes.
Anyone who tells you today's kids are couch potatoes with little or no outdoor activity to keep them in shape, should have been walking with me.
I even came across one youngster who had waded through the snows to get to playground equipment in Town Park. When she arrived, she found the slides and play stations covered with snow and ice.
Undeterred, she trudged back to the car, got her plastic shovel and returned to attack the winter buildup so she could recreate. That's pure dream stuff. When you want to play, you find a way.
An even more encouraging sight was the fact most of the youngsters were accompanied by parents, not only as observers and protectors, but helping children learn the sport they were attempting and having fun with them at the same time.
To paraphrase a popular religious axiom: "The family that plays (prays) together, stays together."
It may not always be true, but more often than not, it holds some degree of accuracy.
That, in itself, is a key to the future of our nation. Youngsters who learn games and competition with sound guidance from parents and other family are more apt to be fair in their future exploits than those who make up the rules as they go and who are taught by peers to take every unfair advantage they can find.
On the slope at the head of Hermosa Street, a man was sledding with his daughter. He brought the plastic glider up and she rode it down. On Reservoir Hill a family had sleds aboard an SUV and went up the hill as a group, a single adult staying below with the vehicle - and a movie camera to record the efforts of the younger clan.
At the skating ponds behind the River Center, many family groups were lacing up and slip-sliding away - groups filled with all ages of participants with all sorts of skill levels. And, despite a number of pratfalls and a few tears of embarrassment, the skating groups were ringing in the new year - with family as the key.
On a hillside south of the elementary school, a grandfather watched faithfully as three youngsters plied the trail to the top and then, all on one extended sheet of plastic, roared back down, hair blowing in the wind and life, for one thrilling moment, carefree.
A few blocks southeast, on the west side of the bluff above South 6th Street, a mother pulled a sled along the side of the road, two smaller children riding with gloves gripping the side rails so they wouldn't fall off.
Nothing illustrates the story more than the exuberance on a child's face when he or she, without really understanding how, masters a new skill on the snow or ice. A shout of joy, a smile of achievement and a parent or two on hand to see it happen makes it even more worthwhile.
It is a story of family, of caring and sharing, of winter, Pagosa family style.
90 years ago
Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era files of Jan. 10, 1913
Frank Henderson reminds us that it was on the 9th of January, 1884, that the big storm 29 years ago commenced. The heaviest snowfall was, however, during April of that year. Silverton, where this editor lived at that time, was blockaded from train service for 90 days, the first train in three months reaching the town the latter part of May. If we remember right, Cumbres Hill was blockaded about 60 days in one stretch that winter.
There will be a dance at the Chambers school house on the Blanco tomorrow night. Just a neighborhood affair.
Archuleta County should keep road building in mind until we have the best mountain roads in the state.
75 years ago
Taken from SUN files of Jan. 13, 1928
During the year 1927 there were a total of 50 births in Archuleta County, of which 34 occurred in Pagosa Springs. During the same period 28 deaths took place in the county, 12 of them being in Pagosa Springs.
The Mark Todd ranch, two miles northeast of Pagosa Springs, has been purchased by H.D. Selby of the Bayles section, who will take possession and occupy the same in the early spring.
Geo. W. Potter, who has leased the Metropolitan club billiard and pool hall in the Rumbaugh Building expects to open the establishment for business tomorrow.
A fistic encounter on the streets of Pagosa this noon drew the most attention that has occurred in this city for some days.
50 years ago
Taken from SUN files of Jan. 9, 1953
The weather this week, until Tuesday, was more of the same with cold nights and chilly days but no snow. On Tuesday afternoon it started snowing and before it quit dumped eight inches of heavy, wet snow here in town. Nearly two feet was reported on Wolf Creek Pass in the same twelve hour period. It would appear as we go to press that more snow is in the offing.
The county financial picture is exceptionally bright at the end of 1952 according to the Board of County Commissioners. The year was ended with a $90,000 surplus in the road fund of which $6,000 is committed on a state aid project. The large cash surplus was occasioned by the commissioners under spending their budget $23,000 and receiving unexpected income.
25 years ago
Taken from SUN files of Jan. 5, 1978
New snow on Wolf Creek has brought the snow depth at Wolf Creek Ski Area to close to 60 inches. It was still snowing there at press time, skiing is described as excellent, and roads are in good shape. Wolf Creek Ski Area had the largest crowd of skiers in its history last week. One day attendance bettered the 1,600 skier mark, with most of the skiers from out of state.
Six arrests have been made in connection with a burglary at Goodman's Store according to Chief of Police Leonard Gallegos. According to the report about $2,600 worth of merchandise, including saddles, leather tack, clothing, boots and other items was reported stolen. Some of the merchandise has been recovered.