Health district's financial turnaround cited
By Tess Noel Baker
"Remarkable," and "superior" were just two of the adjectives an auditor used Tuesday to describe the financial turnaround in the Upper San Juan Health Service District books.
In just one year, Mike Branch, a certified public accountant, said the district went from an overall $434,771 loss to having revenues top expenses by $591,321 - a net turnaround of $1,026,092. Of that, $350,290 was a result of the mill levy increase passed in November of 2001. The rest was a result of better accounting, an increase in revenues, a decrease in expenses, and much-improved collection efforts, he said.
Net operating revenue for the district increased by $165,000. Expenses dropped by $421,542, in part due to a decrease in bad debts from $220,508 to $50,459. The district's cash balance went from being overdrawn by $36,443 to $201,786 in the bank at the end of 2002.
It's also the first year since Branch started auditing the books in the mid-1990s that the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center has shown a profit based solely on operations. In the past, he said, when the center showed revenues in excess of expenditures it was donations that pushed them over the top.
From beginning to end, it's a much different report than he's made the last two years.
"This has been a pleasure," he said. "I hate worse than anything to come in and call a board a bunch of swamp rabbits and tell them if they're not careful, the ship could run aground."
Back in 2001, he reported the district had problems based on the 2000 audit. A plan to cut expenditures by 10 percent and increase revenues by the same amount was put in place. However, the numbers never came through. In fact, expenses increased 24 percent.
Then, in April of 2002, he told the board that based on the 2001 audit report they would have to cut $200,000 from the 2002 budget - $65,000 to break even and another $135,000 to pay overdue bills. They had eight months to do it.
"The year 2001 actually turned out worse than I expected," he wrote in that report to the board. "Total revenue was down almost $100,000 from 2000 and expenditures were up $355,823. The district had expenses in excess of revenues of $434,771. Even with an increase of $371,719 in potential tax revenues this year, the district will not break even if operating results do not improve."
By cutting back on salaries, leaving some positions unfilled, reducing equipment purchases and making a decision to stop paying employee dependent health care costs, the district managed to reach those goals and get "back to black." Apparently, they did that and a lot more.
"The quality of the accounting for the district has improved significantly," said Branch. "This district has gone from probably the governmental entity with the worst accounting to one of the best." He gave a lot of credit to the district for hiring a professional accountant to oversee the books rather than depending on part-time staff to get to the books when the other work was done.
Board member Wayne Wilson and Chairman Charles Hawkins both thanked the clinic staff, the Emergency Medical Services staff and administrative staff for their hard work in making the changes necessary to turn the district around financially.
"It wasn't the board that did this, it was the efforts of everybody involved," Wilson said.
Lightning sparks 12 fires Tuesday
By Tess Noel Baker
It's easy to applaud recent rains, but accompanying lightning causes its own problems.
Lightning strikes during Tuesday's afternoon thunderstorm caused at least 12 separate fires sending members of the fire protection district and the forest service scrambling.
Fire Chief Warren Grams said members of the Pagosa Fire Protection District responded to six separate lightning-caused fires Tuesday.
"We were running around like crazy," he said. They responded to fires in Timber Ridge, near North Lake, in Hidden Valley, on Reservoir Hill and on Park Avenue.
Grams said the strike on Park Avenue hit a home, burning up the telephone, setting off smoke alarms and knocking out the electricity. Otherwise, the fires were held under an acre and were contained.
Marty Adell, acting assistant fire management officer for the Pagosa Ranger District, said forest service fire crews responded to five lightning-caused fires in Cabezon Canyon and one in the Blanco Basin area Tuesday. Again, all fires were kept under an acre in size.
"The fire crews did an excellent job of getting to them and containing them," he said. Helicopters were used to fly some of the crews to the site of the blazes.
Wednesday morning, crews were returning to the site of the fire in the Blanco Basin for final cleanup. The sites of the other fires were being rechecked to make sure any hot spots had been extinguished.
Recall sought for five on health board
By Tess Noel Baker
The petition effort to recall the five remaining elected members of the Upper San Juan Hospital District continues.
On June 13, three days before the deadline, the group leading the drive turned in recall petitions for Wayne Wilson, Patty Tillerson, Sue Walan, Martha Garcia and Ken Morrison to the county clerk for certification.
The progress made toward finding a solution to employee concerns and district morale problems simply hasn't been enough, fast enough, said Pam Ferrell, one of those involved in the drive.
"They've been looking at a solution for a long time, and they're still losing staff," she said. "I think they're sugar-coating things. We felt that we really need a change. We want everything to move forward."
Each of the petitions submitted to the clerk was attached to 105 pages of signature forms with space for 15 signatures per page. Of course, she said, each of those pages didn't necessarily have 15 signatures, but, still, she added, there should be plenty to reach the 300-signature minimum needed to move forward with an election.
Now, it's up to Archuleta County Clerk June Madrid to determine whether or not that's officially true. She has 10 days in which to certify the petitions one way or another. By Wednesday morning, she said, her staff was still working on the first two petitions and they had closed their doors to focus solely on the job.
District board chairman Charles Hawkins said the board had no comment on the possibility of a recall election at this time. It's just too early to determine what, if anything, will need to be done.
"This board will follow the statute as it reads," he said. "We're bound by the law and we're going to follow the law."
If a recall election is necessary, Madrid said, it will be up to the district board to set the election date.
Board directors took no action on the report.
Deadlines established for Fairfield settlement
By Richard Walter
A 20-year confrontation over assessment of annual fees for upkeep of recreational facilities has reached the "Proposed Settlement Agreement" phase in District Court of Archuleta County.
At issue is the fee levied since 1983 by Fairfield Resorts Inc., and its predecessors, against certain property owners in 27 separate subdivisions which make up the bulk of the properties in what is commonly known as Pagosa Lakes.
A legal notice running elsewhere in this issue spells out which subdivisions are covered and gives a specific listing of actual deadlines for action.
Since the proposed settlement results from a class action suit against the original Fairfield developers and all subsequent divisions thereof, property owners must decide whether they want to opt out of the proposed settlement or if they want to be a party to the action.
Deadline for opting out, submitting fee disputes to a hearing officer and to comment on or object to the settlement agreement is July 24. The deadline for filing to enter an appearance in court is July 30. A settlement fairness hearing is scheduled Aug. 6.
Under the proposed settlement:
(1) Fairfield Resorts Inc., would agree, effective retroactively to Dec. 31, 2002, to terminate its rights to collect the fee charged for upkeep of recreational amenities at the Pagosa Development from all members of the settlement class.
(2) All current owners of property interests in the Pagosa Development who do not opt out of the settlement class would be required to pay all outstanding fees and other amounts assessed against their properties for periods prior to Dec. 31, 2002.
(3) Fairfield Resorts would offer certain discounts to the current owners who, prior to Dec. 1, 2003, pay all amounts deemed owed to Fairfield Resorts.
(4) All claims that members of the settlement class may have against Fairfield Resorts relating to the fee, the supplemental declarations of restrictions, or the case will be fully and finally released, and the action will be dismissed with prejudice.
(5) Fairfield Resorts would reserve its rights to pursue any and all claims for fees, interest, penalties, costs and attorneys' fees against those persons or entities who opt out of the settlement class; and
(6) Those persons or entities who opt out of the settlement class will lose all benefits of the settlement agreement, and their properties will remain subject to the supplemental declarations of restrictions.
Class members for purpose of the proposed settlement are any persons or entities that currently own or formerly owned an interest in a residential lot, townhouse, or condominium located within the Pagosa Development; and which lot, townhouse or condominium was (1) sold or otherwise conveyed by Fairfield Resorts after March 1, 1983 or (2) subject to the supplemental declaration of restrictions recorded with the County Clerk and Recorder of Archuleta County by Fairfield Resorts on Aug. 2, 1983.
The suit was originally brought by Lorie Church individually and as representative of a class consisting of all owning interests in Pagosa Development properties sold by Fairfield after March 1, 1983.
If you are a member of the settlement class so-described, you can support, object to or opt out of or participate in the proposed settlement.
If you do not request exclusion, you may also enter an appearance through counsel. Further, failure to opt out of the settlement class in a timely manner may entitle you to certain benefits, subject you to certain obligations, or both.
Any final judgment, whether favorable or not, will include all members of the settlement class who do not request exclusion.
Fairfield Resorts Inc. filed the supplemental declaration of restrictions with the county clerk on Aug. 2, 1983 imposing obligations on lots in Pagosa Development remaining unsold at the time.
Among other things, the document authorized Fairfield to assess the fee, charge interest on all past due fees at the highest rate allowed by law, and to recover attorneys' fees and costs of collection associated with any actions to collect such fees.
In this case, the named plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and members of the settlement class, have alleged Fairfield acted improperly in filing the declaration of restrictions and in assessing and collecting the fee.
The Archuleta County District Court already has ruled on merits in four cases involving the same issues and found the named plaintiffs in those cases were required to pay the fee and ordered them to pay Fairfield over $500,000 in attorneys' fees associated with those cases.
Fairfield, its representative say, is confident it would prevail in this case for the same reasons it was successful in the prior cases.
Because these issues have been pending in the district court for over 10 years, however, all parties have concluded it is desirable the suits be settled.
The settlement agreement does not apply to timeshare units; any lots conveyed to Archuleta County in 1992 and 1993 pursuant to Fairfield's reorganization for all debtors approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court and later sold at auction by Archuleta County; Fairfield Resorts Inc., its subsidiaries and affiliates, and any corporations, trusts, or entities controlled by or affiliated with fairfield; or any person who opts out of the settlement class in a timely manner.
Scattered thunderstorms expected through weekend
By Tom Carosello
Higher elevations across Pagosa Country received sporadic, heavy rainfall during the past week while areas closer to town were relatively shortchanged by a continuing pattern of scattered afternoon thunderstorms.
According to forecasters, that trend will continue through the weekend, although the latest batch of thunderstorms is expected to be dryer and shorter in duration than those of previous weeks.
"Unfortunately, there is a heightened degree of fire danger associated with the outbreak of thunderstorm activity in the area during the next few days due to the likelihood of dry lightning strikes," said Jim Daniels, a forecaster with the National Weather Service Office in Grand Junction.
"We're showing a trend toward a dryer, somewhat breezy southwest flow through Saturday and into Sunday, but weak disturbances and afternoon warming will spawn a few brief storms across the mountains," said Daniels.
"Otherwise, it looks as if the chance for rain will dissipate heading into next week," added Daniels.
According to Daniels, increasing clouds throughout this morning and into this afternoon will result in the chance for an isolated thunderstorm before evening.
High temperatures will range from 75 to 85, and lows should register in the 40s.
The same cloud pattern and a 20-percent chance for rain is included with Friday's forecast. Highs should peak in the low 80s, and lows should fall into the upper 30s.
Saturday and Sunday call for partly-cloudy to mostly-cloudy skies and a minimal chance for afternoon thunderstorms. Highs should approach 80 while lows should dip into the 40s.
The forecasts for Monday and Tuesday predict mostly-sunny skies, a negligible chance for rain, highs in the upper 70s to mid-80s and lows in the 40s.
Wednesday's forecast includes a 20-percent chance for afternoon thunderstorms across higher elevations. Highs should hover around 80; lows should settle into the mid-40s.
The average high temperature recorded last week at Stevens Field was 79 degrees. The week's average low was 37. Precipitation measured at Stevens Field amounted to approximately one-tenth of an inch.
The Pagosa Ranger District rates the current area fire danger as "high." Conditions are subject to change rapidly this time of year; for updates, call the district office at 264-2268.
The National Allergy Bureau rates area pollen counts as "low to moderate" and lists oak and grass as the current dominant pollens.
San Juan River flow ranged between approximately 360-680 cubic feet per second last week. The river's historic median flow for the week of June 19 is roughly 1,300 cubic feet per second.
DOW, Turkey Federation hosting annual fishing derby
By Joe Lister Jr.
Our annual free fishing pole and free lunch outing for children will be held Friday at the fishing ponds in River Center Park.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife and the local Turkey Foundation chapter will be this year's sponsors along with the Town of Pagosa Springs Parks and Recreation Department.
Wildlife personnel will bring free fishing poles for all youngsters under 16.
The Turkey Federation (Pagosa chapter) will supply the food which will be free for all people, with hot dogs, chips, and soft drinks served at noon.
We will have prizes for the two best costumes - one male, and one young female entrant - which best reflect the Huck Finn, and Becky Thatcher look.
There will also be prizes for the first fish, the last fish and hopefully we can get some specially-tagged fish for more prizes. Contests start at 10:30 a.m. and end at noon.
Last year we had the best turnout in the state of Colorado and would like to keep this tradition going. So, everyone get out your pole and lawn chairs and come enjoy a day of fishing with the kids.
Parks advisory council
Our council has been invited to attend this year's event instead of its monthly meeting.
A brief directors' report on the progress of the master plan for the 16 acres of land located in the south part of town will be made.
EDAW, a hired consultant, will have met with us June 16 and 17 to try to finalize a rendering the board can approve. We can go to the town board for its approval, and then we can proceed to research grant opportunities that can help fund the plan we adopt.
We will also discuss the fireworks class held June 18 and the annual fireworks show to be held at the Pagosa Lodge. We are looking for a group of people who will make our fireworks show the best in southwestern Colorado.
This year's carnival will be arriving in Town Park around June 26, and is expected to be open by June 28.
Hey kids, if you're excited about the carnival coming to town, do like I did as a kid and start selling pop bottles, or washing cars to earn money for the fun rides.
Everyone enjoys a carnival.
The district will host the Rockies Baseball Skills Challenge at 5:30 p.m. June 26.
Young baseball fans can exhibit their skills when the annual challenge comes to town. The competition is free and open to both boys and girls ages 6 -13. There are separate divisions for both sexes and the age classification is determined as of Dec. 31 this year.
Entry forms are available at Town Hall, at the ball fields in the sports complex adjacent to Golden Peaks Stadium.
Rockies Baseball Skills Challenge is a competition that allows youngsters to showcase talents in baserunning, batting and throwing with scores based on speed, distance and accuracy.
It is a youth program of the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association with support provided through a grant from the Colorado Rockies and the Robert R. Cormick Foundation.
Top scorers from each age group advance to a sectional competition.
Top sectional scorers from each age group advance to the state championships held in conjunction with a Colorado Rockies game.
Participants receive certificates signed by Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. First-, second- and third-place winners are recognized at each level of competition.
20th annual Blowout Softball Tournament Aug. 2-3
By Richard Walter
The 20th annual Blowout Softball Tournament will be played Aug. 2 and 3 at the sports complex adjacent to Golden Peaks Stadium.
Traditionally, the tournament draws up to 30 teams from all across the Southwest.
And, also traditionally, the proceeds go to improve some aspect of the high school sports program in the community.
This year, the funds will be used for a new net backstop for the baseball field reaching much higher and with an overhang to prevent fouls going back into other playing areas.
That project will be in addition to remodeling of the baseball field press box with a glassed observation area for both voice and print media.
In the past, the tournament has provided wrestling equipment, including portable timers and mats, and various equipment for other athletic endeavors.
To qualify for entry in the men's open, the fee is $225 and two blue dot balls; in women's open, the fee's the same, with two green dot balls.
A $100 deposit is required and it guarantees placement in the respective tournament bracket.
Registration deadline is Tuesday, July 29.
All entries should be mailed to Sue Jones Softball Tournament, PO Box 1075, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.
For more information, call Jones at 264-2642 or on cell at 970-946-1439.
Certified umpires will be provided for all games in both male and female brackets.
And, Jones hopes, this will not be a repeat of the 2002 mud bowl which resulted after the first measurable rains in weeks.
Gymnasts bring home silver from Glenwood Springs
Pagosa Springs gymnasts, competing last weekend in Glenwood Springs, came home with the silver medal in Level 4, just 1.2 points away from their second gold medal finish.
Competing for Level 4s from Pagosa were Jessica Blum, Re'ahna Ray, Casey Crow, Sienna Stretton, Stephanie Lowe, and Toni Stoll.
Stoll bettered her vault score by .6 to 8.8 and stuck her best beam effort ever with an 8.2 performance.
Low also had a personal best meet, scoring 34.9 all around compared to a 33.8 in her last meet. She placed seventh among 33 young women competing from eight teams.
Sienna Stretton had her best performance on vault, receiving a 9.1 and did a beautiful floor routine that netted an 98.5.
Casey Crow had her best vault score at 9.3 and Blum topped her own all-around mark with a 34.75 and 8th place in the medal round, including an 9.25 with her beam routine.
Ray improved her all around score to 36.5 and a second place finish just .15 out of first place. She won gold in the vault with an all time high of 9.7, took the bronze on bars with 8.75, was fourth in floor exercise at 9.5 and sixth on beam with 9.0.
All look forward to going to state competition in two weeks.
Competing at the optional B level were Raesha Ray and Shelby Stretton.
Ray had her personal best meet of the season ranking fifth in all round, fourth in vault with 8.2, and on bars with 8.5 and compiled her highest floor score ever with an 8.9.
Stretton came home with silver in floor routine with 9.1, and was eighth in the all around.
Ladies 'No Goofs' format round goes to Marilyn Smart
"No goofs" format was the theme of the day June 10 for the Pagosa Women's Golf Association.
Each player scored one point for each error, including unplayable lies, whiffs, out of bounds, lost balls, balls in water hazards, sand traps, plus any penalty strokes incurred.
They also had to score a point for each putt over two per green. The player with the least errors wins.
Marilyn Smart was first with 2 points, Dottie Eichvalds and Carrie Weisz tied for second with 3 points each and in fourth place with 4 points each were Sho-Jen Lee, Sheila Rogers and Genie Roberts.
On June 10 and 11, Jane Stewart, Bonnie Hoover, Lynne Allison, Kathy Giordano, Sally Bish, and Nancy Chitwood competed in the San Juan Country Club - Pinon Hills Ladies Golf Invitational in Farmington.
Chitwood won two closest to the pin honors on par 3s June 10. Giordano won closest to pin honors on a par 3 June 11.
Just a reminder: The largest local women's association golf tournament, The Pine Cone Classic at Pagosa Golf Club, will host its 10th annual matches July 8-9 with a practice round July 7.
This is always an entertaining, yet very competitive tournament comprised of four person teams playing a two-ball low-gross, low-net format.
Deadline for entry is July 3. This year Lee Wilson and Kristin Hatfield are cochairing the event.
For more information, call Wilson at 731-5472.
James Madison Campbell Sr., of Bloomfield, N.M., and a former resident of Pagosa Springs, passed away Wednesday, May 14, 2003, at San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington following a long and courageous battle with cancer.
James was born in Lewisville, Ark., to Henry and Mary Campbell. He moved to the Farmington area in 1975 and over the years drove trucks for various companies. At time of passing, he was employed by Hydro-Pure Technology, Inc.
His is survived by his wife, of 41 years, Cecelia; sons James Jr. and wife Betsy and Brian Campbell and Colleen Russell; a daughter, Catrina Brewer and her husband, Don; grandchildren Anthony, Michael and Lorna Rodine, Donnie, Nicole and Terri Brewer, all of Farmington; sisters Emma D. Wainwright of Strong, Ark., Virginia Powell of Plain Dealing, La., Margie Kaiser of Hope, Ark., and Penney Clark of Buckner, Ark.; many nieces and nephews and a host of friends.
A viewing was held May 16, 2003, at Cope Memorial Chapel and services on Saturday, May 17, 2003, at First Baptist Church in Bloomfield with Pastor Joseph Bunce officiating.
William P. Lynn
William (Billy) P. Lynn was born June 17, 1930, in Soccorro, N.M., and passed away peacefully at home on June 8, 2003.
He came to Pagosa Springs with his family in 1934 to run the hot springs. He and his brother joined the Air Force in 1950, serving four years.
Mourning his passing are his wife of 49 years, Helen; daughters Patricia G. Miller of Pagosa Springs, Billie Kathryn (Kami) Lynn of Tempe, Ariz; brother, Joseph and wife Pat Lynn; a sister, Marjorie LeSage; grandsons Chris and Nicholas Miller; granddaughters Savannah and RaeLynn; a new great-granddaughter, Kirsten, born June 11; nephews George Lynn and John Natay and numerous cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Mary Edith.
Cremation followed the wake and the celebration of his life.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Billy Lynn Memorial Scholarship Fund at Rio Grande Savings and Loan, PO Box 69, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.
From your daughters with love:
You are the hands that raised us ... and guided us when we were small ... that lifted us to laugh at the sky and held us when we were hurt or afraid.
Yours is the voice we could recognize even before we could talk ... the voice that could calm us, comfort us, quiet our fears with just a single word.
Yours are the eyes we looked into, that could say so much to us with just a glance ... that could see through us and into us ... eyes that have smiled at us and with us through all the years, in good times and bad, then and now ...
You are the dad we've always loved, and always will, so very much.
Happy Father's Day and happy birthday daddy.
Love, Patricia and Kami
Mountain Express gets upgrade, may expand service to Saturdays
By Tom Carosello
Honoring a request from Dave Sedgwick, county transportation director, Archuleta County commissioners voted Tuesday to approve the purchase of a new bus to upgrade the Mountain Express public transit service.
The new vehicle, to be purchased from a Colorado Springs-based bus sales company known as Startrans, will replace an older bus currently used in the county fleet and should be ready for delivery in 60-90 days.
"It is a longer, larger vehicle," said Sedgwick, indicating the purchase will raise the current seating capacity from 14 to 18 and improve drivers' range of vision and passenger safety measures.
While the county will pay approximately $47,000 for the bus up front, Sedgwick indicated those funds "will be reimbursed the same day" under provisions of the federal Job Access Reverse Commute Grant program.
Funds from the program, which are also known as JARC grants, are primarily aimed at improving a community's ability to provide residents with transportation to and from job sites.
"We're trying to get the workforce moving," said Sedgwick, adding that roughly 50 percent of those who use Mountain Express are exclusively riding back and forth between home and work.
Sedgwick also informed the board of the rising need for Mountain Express to add Saturday service to its schedule, and while they took no action on the proposal, the commissioners voiced "conceptual agreement."
"I agree that it's necessary," said Commissioner Mamie Lynch, "It's just that our ducks are not in a row, and I like ducks in a row."
The main reason for a delay on any decision to expand service relates to budgetary concerns.
According to Sedgwick, a minor budget amendment to the tune of roughly $4,400 would be required if the board decides to adopt the suggestion to implement the weekend service from Aug. 2 through the end of the year.
If approved, Sedgwick said the extended service will definitely fill a void and could be evaluated on a regular basis and adjusted (or eliminated) accordingly.
"I feel it's a feather in the county's cap," concluded Sedgwick.
In other business the board:
- accepted Lynn Constan's resignation from the Upper San Juan Regional Planning Commission, effective July 1 (Constan is leaving the commission to assume a director's position within her church)
- approved a request from Bill Steele, county administrator, to file for a 30-day (deadline) extension with the state auditor's office for completion of the 2002 county audit
- approved licensing for the Upper San Juan Health Service District to provide ambulance service, contingent upon compliance certification letters being signed by the district manager and an inspector's signature on corresponding, appropriate forms
- gave final approval to phase I improvements for A-Affordable Mini-storage and approved release of the corresponding letter of credit
- adopted a resolution allowing an easement that begins at County Road 335 and serves the Rio Blanco Valley re-subdivision of Unit II to be named "Jones Bend Court"
- granted a request from the planning department to accept an improvements agreement and escrow account funding for San Juan Veterinary Services' conditional use permit
- approved various social services contracts which allow for the continuation of child care, family counseling, transportation and employment service efforts.
Grad student aims to fill county's agricultural history gaps
By Tom Carosello
If you're a native or longtime resident of Pagosa Country, don't be surprised if you get a knock on the door or a phone call this summer from a young man identifying himself as Sean Pummill.
Pummill, a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in geography at the University of Montana, has chosen Archuleta County as the subject for his required thesis and, in the coming months, will be requesting interviews with anyone who can offer information on the county's "good ol' days."
Appearing before the county commissioners Tuesday morning to seek assistance and explain his intent, Pummill supplied the board with a letter outlining the scope of his plans to augment the area's historical data.
"I examine the relationships between humans and the natural environment in an attempt to better understand the reasons and patterns associated (with) our existence," read Pummill's letter to the board, "In short, I study what places are like."
Pummill, who refers to himself as a "historical and regional geographer," told the board his interest is in the agricultural landscape of the county, specifically "the changing role of agriculture" from the late 1800s to present.
Pummill then informed the board that he became enamored with the area after spending a short vacation hiking the backcountry near Fourmile Creek and visiting with local business owners.
Pummill explained in order to complete his study, he will need to obtain a multitude of maps and other information sources from the county planning department, and requested a waiver for the fees associated with the use of such documents.
Pummill told the board he felt his effort will benefit the county because he will be "capturing the history of this place from a unique standpoint ... offering little snapshots from the past."
Marcus Baker, associate county planner, echoed those sentiments, telling the board, "We have a gap in historical data I think his study can help fill. I think whatever he does is going to be a benefit in some way."
Although the amount of time the planning department can set aside to assist Pummill is limited, said Baker, the end result will likely prove worthwhile for both parties.
"If we hired a consultant to perform a similar study, I don't think it's a stretch to say the cost would run into the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars," said Baker. "This way, both sides get something out of the deal for a reasonable exchange."
The board reached a consensus in support of Pummill's request a short time later, and unanimously carried a motion to waive the corresponding research fees.
Alden Ecker, board chairman, summarized the commissioners' support by stating, "I think we should always do our best to put the (historical) bits and pieces together for the benefit of the county."
After thanking the board for its cooperation, Pummill said he will return to the county in August to initiate his study and will provide the board with a copy of his thesis upon its completion.
LPEA board election filing deadline July 23
By Tom Carosello
This year's petition submittal deadline for those wishing to run for a position on the La Plata Electric Association Inc. board of directors is 5 p.m., July 23.
Anyone who wishes to file for a board vacancy must obtain a petition from the local LPEA office, 603 S. 8th St., or the Durango office at 45 Stewart St. and return it to either office before the deadline.
The following is a list of directors whose terms are expiring this year and the districts they represent:
- Bob Formwalt, District 1
- Jerry McCaw, District 2
- John Gardella, District 3
- Herbert C. Brodsky, District 4
Potential candidates must live in the district for which he or she is seeking office. Petitions must contain 15 or more signatures from members who reside in the candidate's district.
Ballots will be mailed to the membership no later than 10 days prior to the annual meeting date, which is scheduled Sept. 6 at the Sky Ute Pavilion in Ignacio. Registration is set for 12:30 p.m. and the business meeting will follow at 2 p.m.
For more information on this year's election or membership meeting, call 247-5786.
Bats struck out during rec center construction
By Richard Walter
You've all heard the term "bats in his belfry."
It tends to indicate a bit of lunacy.
The Ralph Eaton Recreation Center at Pagosa Lakes is undergoing refurbishing and expansion and it has been known for some time to have a bat problem.
Workmen involved in the remodeling found the reason.
As they worked on reroofing portions of the structure, they found a covey of 40-50 bats huddled in a rotting piece of subroofing.
The intruders were evacuated and the area sealed to prevent reentry.
Workers also found roof venting with no screening, another apparent point of entry for the nighttime marauders. Those, too, were corrected.
Now, said Walt Lukasik, general manager, "We think we have 95 percent of the bat problem struck out."
As for the modernization project itself, he told the board of directors June 12, everything is on schedule though there have been some unexpected glitches.
Roofing is 90 percent complete, the new front entry has been framed, stone work is done and stucco application is nearly ready to start, new shower installation has been completed, a 4x4 foot vent has been added at the back of the structure to aid in circulation of interior air, a nursery wall has been removed and replaced with a half wall and new walls are up in the redesigned interior.
Lukasik told the board several work order changes have been initiated as crews find new problems.
Included was replacement of front porch supports when it was found there were no footings or caissons under the original construction; replacement of the front concrete slab which had no frost barriers or drainage system and had settled four inches from level; and restructuring a ground drain so that it went to ground 25 feet from the building and drained into a wetland rather than falling directly at the base of the structure.
Center director Ming Steen and her center team, he said, have done a tremendous job of keeping the center open during all the construction work.
But, he added, the center will have to be closed temporarily when the epoxy flooring is poured in locker rooms because fumes will be very strong and the building will have to be thoroughly vented during that period.
Postal Service eliminating cluster box supply service
By Richard Walter
The U.S. Postal Service will no longer provide, install and maintain cluster box units for newly developing rural areas.
It will, however, continue deliveries to existing cluster boxes and will deliver to new clusters that are properly installed and maintained by the residents of the area.
That message was delivered June 12 to the board of directors of Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association by Walt Lukasik, general manager.
He said the notice of change had been received earlier in the week.
Such units, he said, generally cost between $1,100 and $1,250 plus $200 for site preparation and pedestal.
Once a cluster is properly installed, it is the property of the owners in the area but the postal service retains keys and accessibility rights.
"I don't see how we could pay for them," said director Fred Ebeling.
"It's a moot point, anyway," said director Tom Cruse, board president, "until we get property owners coming in and talking about it."
In other action the board:
- joined Cruse in expressing condolences to the family of Brian Kirsop who drowned in a recent accident on Lake Forest
- learned there is a problem with fish (crappie) in Lake Forest but not one involving disease. "A study shows they are stressed but not diseased," said Lukasik and the problem is under study
- learned the noxious weed spraying program apparently is have desired effects and is to be continued. The number is nowhere near as serious as last year, directors were told
- reappointed Pierre Mion to the environmental control committee and voted to continue advertising for additional members
- announced foreclosure on a lot in Highlands and agreed to have it listed at $6,000
- agreed to postpone the regularly scheduled July 10 meeting in deference to the annual meeting July 26 - unless an emergency situation arises
- learned the Long Range Planning Committee has completed its study of water needs and supply prospects and will have a report ready next month
- received a statistical report on the sheriff's department animal control patrol for May showing 4,885 minutes of patrol time, 1,599 miles driven, nine reports taken, seven dogs impounded, two cats impounded, five cruelty to animal cases, 11 verbal warnings issued, three written warnings given and two summons issued.
Lake Forest residents will be polled on fund use ideas
By Richard Walter
The issue of errors in the original survey of the Lake Forest area of Pagosa Lakes is nowhere near as bad as it may have seemed.
In fact, the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association has concluded that if one owner objects to a resurvey, none of the subdivision can be done.
Director Tom Cruse, board president, asked if there are any serious discrepancies in the subdivision.
Walt Lukasik, general manager, said six lots are basically involved and the greatest error is 35 feet in the owner's favor. All the rest are measured in distances from a few inches to four feet.
Director Fred Ebeling said, "We can survey, but we can't replat. The remaining money in the Fairfield settlement can be used for the property owners."
Director David Bohl said there is currently $153,660 available in the fund and moved that Lukasik be directed by the board to poll property owners to get a consensus of opinion on how that money would best be used.
"I'm am an owner there," said Bohl, "and personally, I'd like to see those funds used to complete the roads there."
Director Pat Payne suggested the poll should include several possible uses. "If we don't do that," she said, "we'll get a myriad of opinions."
Bohl said he is sure other residents will have other ideas, like possibly fire control measures.
Hugh Bundy, the newest director, asked if the board would be bound by the poll and was told, "No, it will just be advisory."
Lukasik said the poll will be done but "it will take some time."
Plan to restructure clinic practice goes to health district board
By Tess Noel Baker
Twenty years ago, the hospital district was formed to provide quality health care availability and stability to the local community, Dr. Mark Wienpahl told the Upper San Juan Health Service District board. Now, in order to continue that mandate, it's time for a change.
Wienpahl, along with community member J.R. Ford and providers Dr. Bob Brown and nurse practitioner Susan Kuhns, presented the board a proposal Tuesday to privatize their medical practice, giving the community two private medical practices with close, collaborative ties to each other.
"We feel that this would give the community the most fiscally responsible approach," Wienpahl said.
According to the five-page proposal, the new private clinic would be called Pagosa Health and Wellness. Hours would be Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
During the hours the clinic is closed, staff would be on call for emergency care. They would also like to take on oversight and management of the urgent care facility.
According to the proposal, "Urgent care can be most efficiently and effectively managed by Pagosa Health and Wellness due to the designed proximity of facilities and the depth of service overlay between the family practice clinic and urgent care."
They also propose managing current and future diagnostic equipment to allow physicians at both family practice clinics to use the equipment and bill for its use, thereby reducing competition among the two.
Pagosa Health and Wellness would continue to operate out of the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center building on South Pagosa Boulevard. The proposal suggests starting with a five-year lease at a rate of $6,000 per month - discounted to $5,000 per month for the first six months.
Should the practice outgrow the clinic building, or the building be needed for other health care operations, the proposal asks the district to give the private clinic a nine-month notice and agree to enter into a land-lease for adjacent property to keep the goal of a "medical campus," in that area intact.
The agreement also addresses continuous call coverage. Physicians at the newly-formed Pagosa Health and Wellness would agree to be on call three nights per week and three weekends per month. The remaining weekend and weeknights would be covered under a separate agreement with other physicians. The district would then reimburse on-call physicians at a rate of $250 per weekday/night or $500 per weekend day or night.
Wienpahl said if the board approved the proposal it would take a minimum 60 days to make the transition providing all contracts could be agreed upon.
District board chairman Charles Hawkins thanked Ford and the providers for their hard work putting the proposal together. He invited the group to meet with the district's budget and finance committee and the district's attorney over the next couple weeks.
At the same time, a consultant, Bob Bohlmann, recently hired by the district, will take a look at the plans being presented to the board, consider the organizational structure and mission of the district and present a report "of opinions and strategic recommendations oriented to the achievement of optimum results given the realities of economic and legal limitations," according to his consulting contract.
Hawkins said Bohlmann's work is expected to be finished shortly after July 7 at which time a special meeting will be scheduled to make a decision on the future of the Dr. Mary Fisher Medical Center and its staff.
Fire danger increasing but
not as serious as last year
Public lands managers say fire danger is on the increase as temperatures continue to climb, rain continues to elude the area, and afternoon winds dry out the vegetation.
However, due to the spring green-up that occurred, the conditions are different from last year, said Ron Klatt, fire management officer for the Columbine Public Lands Office.
"In 2002, there was very little green-up and a fire could, and did, start most anywhere. This year, with the good green-up, fires haven't spread as quickly and have been much easier to control," said Klatt. "But there are patches of very dry vegetation where we are seeing quick and intense flare-ups."
These flare-ups are occurring in what fire managers call the 1,000-hour fuels, or heavy fuels. These fuels, which are the 3-8 inch diameter branches and logs in the forest, haven't yet recovered from four years of drought.
The moisture content in these logs are about 12 percent in the ponderosa pine forests and 5 percent in the pinon-juniper forests, both considered critical thresholds for fire intensity.
Fuel moistures of both live and dead vegetation are gathered once a week from seven designated sites on public lands in southwest Colorado that reflect different types of vegetation at different elevations. The results are used to determine fire danger. The information can also help officials keep firefighters out of dangerous situations because, when fuel moisture levels are very low, wildfires can act in an unpredictable, erratic manner.
Live fuel-moisture levels are derived by testing green leaves, needles and grass. The results help to determine how easily a fire would spread and how intensely it might burn.
The moisture levels of grass, pine needles and oak leaves are measured using a moisture analyzer, which records the initial weight, cooks the materials, and re-measures the oven-dried weight. Moisture percentages are calculated by taking the difference between the two. The information is then entered into a database so conditions can be compared to previous years.
The average current moisture content of perennial grasses and Gambel oak is about normal for this time of year. Ponderosa pine needles, however, are extremely low in moisture content and would be considered at a critical threshold for tree torching and crown-fire initiation.
High moisture content in live vegetation would suppress a fire's ability to grow; low moisture content would make a fire grow faster. "The lower the moisture, the faster the vegetation absorbs heat," said Klatt.
While the moisture content of live fuels acts as either a fire retardant or stimulator, moisture levels of dead fuels - such as grass, sticks, branches and logs - determine the conditions under which a fire would start.
Dead fuel-moisture levels are monitored in our area by nine Remote Auto Weather System Stations, which automatically compute the moisture levels of dry sticks. This data reflects the amount of time differently sized dead materials need to reflect surrounding environmental conditions.
In addition, actual measurements are taken by hand in many locations to verify the calculated values.
Other environmental factors, including wind, temperature and relative humidity, are monitored on an ongoing basis. These factors, in combination with the fuel moistures, provide managers with indices that project how likely a fire is to start and how fast it might burn, and helps them determine fire danger and the possible need for fire restrictions.
This summer, federal fire managers will be sharing these indices with fire chiefs and state and county officials on a weekly basis.
There is also a subjective side to assessing fire danger and the need for fire restrictions. "We're reluctant to impose fire restrictions when the occurrence of human-caused fires is minimal," said Mark Lauer, fire management officer for the San Juan Public Lands in Durango. "This year only six out of 65 fires have been human caused. At this time last year, 29 of the 42 fires were caused by humans."
The Interagency Fire Dispatch Center has ensured quick response to fires in the five-county area, with positioning of the Type I airtanker, helicopters, the Colorado State Forest Service single-engine airtanker stationed in Cortez, and crews.
First and foremost, land managers must consider public and firefighter safety. And when the indices are showing the potential for very high to extreme fire danger, managers must often impose restrictions regardless of the lack of human-caused fires.
"Fire restrictions will go into effect on lower elevations of the San Juan Public Lands the week of June 23 if southwest Colorado does not see some significant moisture before then," said Lauer.
Good fishing abounds in Pagosa Country
By Tom Carosello
A few area streams and rivers have reached maximum clarity as a result of subsiding runoff, but optimal fishing conditions and prime water clarity are still a few days away for most.
Nevertheless, all Pagosa Country tributaries are currently fishable and steadily yielding a variety of colorful species to anglers in search of feisty, high-country trout.
High-country reservoirs are benefitting from occasional afternoon thunderstorms and continue to fish well. Warm-water species are active throughout the day, while trout are seeking cooler/deeper water midday and stalking the shallows in the early morning hours and late afternoon.
The following is a breakdown of conditions at some regional fishing hotspots:
- Echo Lake - Lake continues to warm and largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish and perch are being taken regularly on live bait, ultralight jigs and small plastics. Trout are hitting flies, marabou jigs, spinners in gold and silver, fluorescent Z-Rays, salmon eggs, nightcrawlers and PowerBait.
- Williams Creek Reservoir - Fishing for rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout is good in the early morning and late afternoon with live bait, light jigs in orange and yellow, and spinners in gold, silver and bright fluorescents. Kokanee salmon are holding deep, but some anglers are reporting occasional success near the inlet with flashy spoons and pop gear.
- Navajo Reservoir - Water level and temperature are slowly rising and catfish are regularly being caught day and night on blood/stink baits near the river inlets and in the shallows. Smallmouth bass are hitting Yamamoto grubs and similar soft plastics, and crappie are being caught near rocky outcroppings and underwater brush using vertical jigging methods. Northern pike are reportedly most active in the afternoon and are hitting reflective spoons and plugs.
- Piedra River - Clear water above the confluence with Williams Creek (unless affected by afternoon thunderstorms), but still a bit off color in the lower reaches. Browns and rainbows are the predominant catch and are hitting flies, streamers and flashy spinners.
- Middle Fork, Piedra River - Running clear and cold. Small browns and rainbows are being taken on flies and small jigs and spinners in the side eddies and plunge pools.
- Fourmile Creek - Flow is swift, clear and cold. Brook trout, cutthroat and a few rainbows and browns are hitting attractor-pattern flies and lightweight spinners.
- Williams Creek - Fishing well along the entire stretch of creek and clarity has improved considerably in the past few days. Flies and small spinners are working well for brookies, cutthroats, browns and rainbows near the dam, while mainly browns and rainbows are being taken near the lower campgrounds.
- San Juan River (through town) - River continues to fall and is nearly clear. Anglers using spinners, flies, marabou jigs and streamers are reporting good catches of rainbows along with a few browns. River will be stocked next week.
Class of 1983 sets reunion; seek classmates
The Class of 1983 at Pagosa Springs High School will celebratie their 20-year reunion July 5.
For more information, please e-mail Lynne Killey at Lynne@ killey.com or Stacie Trujillo-Montoya at Smontoya@durango lawyers.com, or watch for an update in the Pagosa Springs SUN.
If you know the whereabouts of any of the following classmates, please have them e-mail Lynne or Stacie:
Benn Bonfantini, Dianna Maez, Charlie Bottenberg, Phillip Martinez, Joe Boyet, Diana Matos, Steve Brogan, David Medina, Jeff Brown, Monica Montano, Tammy Carroll, David Montoya, Ginny Chase, Laura Norris, Melvin Chavez, Robert Ochoa, Maria Childres, June Palmer, Joey Cordova, Tansi Patterson, Kerry Cordray, Tony Perea, Ronna Decker, Arcenia Perea, Carol Degrosa, Brenda Phillips, Greg Evans, Lesha Powell, Stacy Fay, Tanya Price, Maria Garza, Donald, Prokop, Barry Grove, Bobbi Reynolds, Lorraine Gurule, Genevieve Rivas, Rusty Hatfield, Darin Rome, David Heaton, Cody Ross, Terry Hendrix, Dean Schier, Debbie Holder, Jean Schnell, Vonda House, Kirk Schroeder, Roger Housh, Becky Shenefield, Scott Jamison, Allison Slade, Janice Jordan, Mike Stolz, Jimmy King, Chris Tickell, Latty Knocker, Jessica Titsworth, Frosty Lattin, Sandra Tuck, Dan Laue, Rita Vasquez, Sherry Longenette, Julie Walker, Jimmy Lucero, Roger Wedemeyer, Elisha Lujan, Jody Williams, Donald Rivera, Jerry Carroll, Carl Guilliam, Dirk Mitchell, Nancy Owens, Rachel Perez, and Brian Williams.
School board election coming; details listed
By Richard Walter
The time is drawing near for prospective candidates to signal their intent to run for the board of education of Archuleta School District 50 Joint.
A school board election will take place in conjunction with the general election, by mail, on Nov. 4.
Two board seats will be on the election block, the representatives for District 2 and District 3.
Currently holding the District 2 seat is Mike Haynes who was appointed to replace Russel Lee who resigned and moved from the district.
Haynes has indicated he will run for a full term in the seat.
Holding the District 3 seat is Randall Davis, current board president and a veteran of 27 years on the board. He is ineligible to run for re-election under recent term limit legislation in Colorado.
Candidates wishing to seek a school board seat must have lived in their district for 12 consecutive months before the election and be a registered elector themselves.
A person is not eligible to run for school director if he or she has been convicted of committing a sexual offense against a child.
Any person intending to run must file a written Notice of Intention to be a candidate and a nomination petition in accordance with the law.
Petitions may be circulated only between Aug. 6 and Aug. 29 and require 50 signatures. Only those signatures of registered voters, registered at least 30 days before the election, will be considered valid and they may be obtained at-large, throughout the district.
Petitions are to be submitted to the Archuleta County Clerk and Recorder's office, as designated election official, no later than 4 p.m. Aug. 29.
Necessary forms will be available in the clerk's office at 449 San Juan St. in the Archuleta County Courthouse, after July 10, and are to be returned there.
Superintendent Duane Noggle told the board of education June 10 that he was "well pleased" with the way June Madrid, county clerk, "ran the election process last year.
"She and her staff did a great job," he said, "and I expect the same to be true this year."
Internet problems interrupt school district operations
By Richard Walter
From June 3 through June 10, service provided to Pagosa Springs schools through a regional provider was unavailable to staff.
This lack of service proved to be disruptive to school administrative operations. Several important software applications used by the district are Web-based, which made it impossible to perform many of the common functions of district operations.
In addition, interested individuals were unable to connect to the district Web site at www. pagosa. k12.co.us and employees on summer break were unable to log on to their e-mail from remote locations.
The lack of service was a frustration to both employees of the district and other interested parties.
Apparently for reasons unknown at this time, the T1 line from Durango to Pagosa Springs was disconnected, thereby cutting off services to the school district.
To receive Internet service requires a coordinated effort of several different entities including the Internet provider, the telephone company and other communications firms.
It is the district's understanding that the provider, Frontier Internet, was in the process of upgrading its connections and Qwest was reconfiguring the T-1 which serves Pagosa Springs .
Internet service was restored to the district at 4:50 p.m. June 10 through a coordinated effort of CenturyTel, Frontier Internet and district employees.
The district expressed its appreciation to John Kennedy, David Feazel and Hanna Bachtel for taking time out of their summer vacations to help resolve the problem, and gave special thanks to Bill Donner of CenturyTel for working so hard to resolve the problem.
If you have any question regarding the recent problem and are concerned transmissions were not received, call the district administration office at 264-2228.
Talk of this town's need for better health care services deserves our attention.
We all wish the Dr. Mary Fisher Clinic a balanced and sustainable resolution to their recent woes. However, when the Pagosa Springs Family Medicine Clinic is included in discussions of the town's health care inadequacies, I believe the town's residents and visitors are done a disservice.
My wife and I moved our family here from a major urban center to which people from around the globe travel for world class health care. One of our selection criteria for choosing a new community was health care that was competent and personal. We just recently had a second child and feel that the care available right here in our friendly Pagosa Springs is on a par with that of the area we moved from. While the birth was at Mercy in Durango we chose PS Family Medicine for pediatric care with the confidence gained by our previous experiences there.
Certainly if treating larger health concerns, Pagosa Springs is the wrong place. But to suggest that this town needs a family practice physician with "up-to-date training" offends me and I believe many of the happy, well served patients of the Pagosa Springs Family Medicine Clinic. Already practicing there, are two dedicated physicians one currently Board Certified and the other formerly Board Certified in Family Medicine. Advanced Cardiac and Trauma Life Support are other areas of training and service they provide our community. It bears stating that these services are provided with no cost to the tax rolls of Pagosa Springs.
These are challenging times for the medical community of Pagosa Springs. Let's start by seeing things the way they are. We are small town and like it or not this is the wrong place to live if your health concerns will likely necessitate regular and or urgent advanced care. If you live here, you have made that choice. Let's give credit and appreciation to the dedicated and professional health care providers already serving our community. They deserve our respect, for they certainly could be elsewhere making more money. Perhaps respect for our health care providers will result in even better and broader health care.
In response to Patty Tillerson's letter in the SUN June 5, I wish to reply that option 3 may be the closest to a need for our community.
That option is an urgent care center open weekends to both local and tourist walk-in emergencies, and ambulance service with doctor available after hours.
This seems to be the issue that was asked for by the community and there is still a need.
I appreciate your letter to the editor and hope people will respond to what their needs are.
As far as needing to be specific with health care for locals and tourists, I think, especially with emergency health care, it should be extended to everyone. As a nurse, I don't think I would ask a person hurt on the street if he or she is a local or a tourist. And, as far as urgent care needing its own ambulance, I do not believe that is necessary.
We are a small community. On that note, volunteers are hard to come by, no matter where one lives.
I do question if a permanent advisory committee is needed, especially if we continue to hear from the district board.
Angel in shorts
Living here in Pagosa Springs, we are accustomed to hearing about the great people who live here, how helpful everyone is in a time of need, all those kudos that make us feel good about those who share living in this beautiful community. Well, here's another.
On Sunday, my daughter and I decided to take a short walk in the forest off Turkey Springs Road. Equipped with three dogs on leashes, 8 ounces of water and 12 ounces of tea, we headed out. After about two hours of walking, we thought we might be on the wrong road, but surely we would come to it soon.
After three hours, heavy rain, thunder, lightning and some hail, we admitted we were in serious trouble. As we walked and prayed for some kind of help, the sharp realities became clear. No one knew where we had gone, we had no jackets, no food, our water was nearly gone, and we were wet, cold and lost.
As we came out of the tall trees and crossed into an open field, we suddenly spotted a lone runner. Our guardian angel in running shorts! My daughter called out to him for help and he stopped to wait for us, a wet, bedraggled muddy sight we must have been. His name was Reed. He told us where we were, gave us directions and said after his run, he would meet us at the gate at the end of the trail. As he ran off, we headed up the trail, thanking God for sending him, but also praying that he would meet us at the gate.
True to his word, ahead on the path was Reed. He had gone home to collect water, jackets and power bars for us. He walked with us to make sure we didn't miss the gate and then loaded the entire muddy troop into his very clean car and drove us back to where we had left our car. He even waited to make sure the car keys hadn't been lost during our 4 1/2 hour walk and if the car would start. Then, with a final wave, he drove off into the sunset.
We just want to thank Reed for his kindness and to warn others about wandering off into the forest unprepared, even for a short Sunday walk. We know how blessed we are to be able to tell the story.
Thanks again, Reed, for everything you did for us. We're proud to say you lived up to the Pagosa tradition of helping others.
and Darlene Maldonado
Gene Cortright's letter of exposé in the June 12 SUN pinpointing some of the "Commissioner Watchers" concerns hit the nail right on top of the old, but still infamous "Three Amigos" sombreros.
Somehow, I seriously doubt that the taxpaying voter of Archuleta County would be terribly surprised that the previous two-vote board of Amigos would quietly eliminate then-existing regulations requiring two separate public hearings before a permit could be issued to build an industrial facility in the county.
So how have these astute county voters demonstrated that they are keenly aware of previous Amigo board tactics? Easy answer: They were smart enough to send one of the Amigos packing in the last election for county commissioner by a large majority just so there would be no more concrete batch plant fiascos, etc., erected in the county.
So, what did the old two-vote Amigos do to vainly attempt keeping industrial facility approval alive and well while keeping the heat and work off themselves?
Well, they cleverly placed all the work load and decision making directly on the planning commission so no one in the future could point fingers in their direction. Guess what? It ain't gonna work. The ruse has now been publicly identified.
I would now hope that with the new commissioner board in place and one of the two-vote Amigos being eliminated, that the currently seated commissioners would accept their responsibilities to the local voter by correcting the problem.
Should the commissioners choose not to accept this mission, they will surely dive into self-destruct mode and I'd bet be held accountable by the voters in future commissioner elections. They will be rudely roused and expeditiously ousted.
County commissioners are getting paid over $45,000 a year plus magnificent benefits. Archuleta County voters want the buck to stop at your desks - not the planning commissioners who receive zero bucks.
So get to work, fix it - now!
Your comment on the recent asphalt plant permit by Planning Office personnel and the need for additional regulations prompts this letter.
As a former planning commissioner, I was one of those who helped develop the language for the Conditional Use Permit and its predecessor PUD counterpart. After implementation, it became apparent that the provisions were too inclusive for many applications - thus the revision that allowed for approval by the planning office.
I specifically remember the case involving a boat storage operation on Navajo Reservoir. The owner wished to add storage for a few more boats. The use would not change; there would be no impact on the area, the traffic, or the community, so there seemed no real need for more than planning office review.
After lengthy study and review, the planning office and the planning commission, in conjunction with the county attorney, added new language to the subdivision regulations to address this specific type of situation, and it was approved by the county commissioners.
At no time did anyone suggest that the language could be interpreted such that it would allow a gravel operation to be replaced by an asphalt plant, or that an extension of any use previously required to cease on a given date could be given with only planning office approval.
One tends to suspect that the proponent's attorney decided to justify his fee by nitpicking the regulations to the detriment of all involved, including the proponent and the public.
It has been my experience that by being open and involving the public, most issues can be resolved in a positive manner. This did not happen.
If the subdivision regulations are at fault, then revision at the earliest opportunity should be undertaken.
To those citizens who elected me to serve on the Upper San Juan Health Services District Board of Directors:
I became interested in serving on this board because of concerns regarding honesty and integrity throughout our health care services.
My volunteer activities in this community have spanned a variety of interests - early childhood education, health of our senior citizens, assistance to folks in crisis, and activities of our local service clubs.
My only agenda with anything I do is and always has been focused on making things better for individuals and our community as a whole.
Now that a recall petition has been submitted to the county clerk, it will be for you to observe the activities and accomplishments of the current directors of our health services board over the coming months - and then you will make a decision as to whether these volunteers are meeting the basic health care needs of all our citizens, regardless of income; and if you are pleased with the care you receive when an emergency occurs for you or someone in your family.
I am proud to have sponsored Charles Hawkins' membership on this board and in turn, his election as chairman. Charles is a good listener to all views, shares information with board members for their ideas and operates in an open, honest manner with all parties.
I may be criticized, as I have been by some, for my letters to the public; however, the last time I looked, this is America and I believe I have an obligation to let the public know not just my views but those expressed to me by others.
Regardless of assessment of my volunteer efforts on this board, please know that I will have no regrets from my service, as I intend to "give it my all" so long as I serve.
Celebrate summer with June 20 picnic in the park
By Laura Bedard
One of the best things about summer is being outside, so we are having our monthly picnic in the park, June 20.
It is a celebration of the summer solstice and our beautiful surroundings in Pagosa. We gather at Town Park, by the arts council building at noon.
Dawnie and her staff will be serving oven-fried chicken, corn, tossed salad, a roll and cantaloupe.
We encourage you to bring a hat and any toys you may want to bring (we had some interesting watergun fights last year) as well as a hearty appetite, as Dawnie always cooks a lot of food.
Cost is a suggested donation of $2.50 for those 60-plus and a firm $4.50 for those under 60.
On June 21, we will have a group head up to Creede to attend "A Tuna Christmas." Creede is a beautiful town and the repertory theatre has some wonderful productions. Keep reading the Senior News to find out when we will be going next month.
Line dancing was a hit last week. A lot of laughter, music and fun was heard in the dining room. Come and check out the next class June 25.
Arthur Jacobs, our attorney through the Older American Act, gave a talk June 10 about the services available to seniors through the act. We have some information about legal services in the senior lounge. Come in and ask us about it.
We are still looking for an additional volunteer Medicare counselor for the Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program. Training is provided. Contact Musetta at 264-2167 for more information.
You don't have to cross the border to save money on prescription drugs, especially if your income is limited. In June 2002, seven drug companies created Together Rx, a program that offers discounts on prescription drugs to Medicare enrollees who lack public or private prescription drug coverage, and who have incomes below $28,000 ($38,000 for couples).
The discounts range from 20 to 40 percent or more off normal prices for drugs manufactured by specific companies. For more information, call (800) 865-7211 or visit www.togetherrx.com. We also have information on other programs available at the senior center.
An artificial knee, (or hip or shoulder) will work best and wear least if it's perfectly aligned with your own bones.
Now surgeons are calling on an artificial brain - an infrared camera hooked to a computer - to measure crucial angles during joint replacement procedures.
Tiny transmitters placed on the patient's leg send images to the computer, which displays an image of the knee joint with important angles and distances marked.
In a European study of 821 joint replacement patients, 35 percent of the computer-navigated cases had perfectly aligned bones, compared with 24 percent of those without it. (Prevention Magazine)
Visitors and guests:
Hoppy Hopson brought his wife, Evelyn, in to lunch last week. Marion Knowles and her lovely sister, Jan Hartzell, were welcomed back to the center. We also got to meet Marcia Wean for the first time Tuesday.
Friday - 10 a.m. Qi Gong; 11 Medicare counseling; noon picnic in the park
June 23 - 1 p.m. Bridge for Fun
June 24 - 9:30 a.m. yoga; 10:30 advanced computer class
June 25 - 10:30 a.m. beginning computer class; 1 p.m. line dancing
Senior lunch menu
June 20 - Oven-fried chicken, buttered corn, tossed salad, roll, cantaloupe
June 23 - Chicken enchiladas, stewed tomatoes, applesauce, spice cake
June 24 - Chili beans, marinated vegetables, corn bread, peaches
June 25 - Lasagna, tossed salad, garlic roll, fruit compote
VA health care back to being income based
By Andy Fautheree
Over the past two years I have enrolled hundreds of Archuleta County veterans in VA Health Care.
It has proven to be very beneficial to these veterans in receiving quality health care at a very reasonable cost.
For many, it was a godsend for low-priced prescription drugs through the VA mail order pharmacy program.
Situations of VA health care availability have changed directions several times during these two years.
As many of you know, a new VA Health Care priority system was initiated Jan. 17, 2003. Some veterans were affected by these rule changes. Basically, VA health care is now back to being income based. However, if you were already enrolled prior to that date, you are "grandfathered" in the system, and can continue to receive the same health care.
If you are a new enrollee and your income is above a certain level and you do not have any service-connected disabilities you will not be able to obtain VA health care at this time, though I believe this could change in the near future.
Two years ago, the Farmington VA Clinic was taking new patients. The Durango VA Clinic was not yet in existence. A contract clinic in Chama was able to see VA patients under a special VA contract agreement. Grand Junction VA Medical Center was still taking new patients.
Now, however, the Farmington VA Clinic is no longer accepting new patients unless they meet the new, very high VA priority rating.
Durango Clinic is now in full operation and providing excellent care.
Grand Junction VA Medical Center is no longer able to take new patients except with a high VA priority rating like Farmington.
The clinic in Chama, under the Health Care Centers of Northern New Mexico, is still in ongoing negotiations for the past year to ink a new contract, which may or may not happen.
We have options
So, where does that leave our local veterans?
Fortunately, located where we are we have options available to us. Veterans living in large metro areas such as Albuquerque or Denver do not have these options. For the most part, they can't get into the overcrowded VA medical facilities unless they have that very high priority rating mentioned earlier, or are placed on some very, very long waiting list.
I am currently recommending Archuleta County veterans transfer their health care to the Durango VA Clinic. I have recently visited this facility and met with the staff there, and am very impressed with the personal, quality level of health care they provide.
Dr. Daniel Hepburn is the physician. Janice Short is the nurse. Paula Jones is the office manager.
As I was meeting with this staff the Qwest phone company was busy installing additional phone lines to meet the increased demand for communication. Communications with the Durango office should be much improved almost immediately, which had been a frequent complaint in the past. Also, some of the issues recently raised by the clinic staff in a Durango news story are being resolved.
There are some obvious and not so obvious reasons for recommending this change of VA health care providers.
Transfer to Durango
Durango is able to provide the quality care and see new patients on a relatively short appointment schedule.
Farmington is quite a bit further away than Durango for our veterans to travel. Farmington clinic used to be able to authorize low-income veterans from Archuleta County for travel reimbursement. However, it is no longer able to do that. The policy in effect, as Farmington explained to me, is - since the veteran from here has the option to go to Durango - that's where they should go and Farmington no longer pays the travel allowance.
The rule of thumb for travel allowance pay is the veteran has to drive over 100 miles for VA health care services, to the nearest VA health care facility.
There is really no need for our veterans to continue to travel to Grand Junction for their health care services. The same care can be provided now to VA facilities much closer to home. And, they do not pay any travel allowance that I am aware of.
Chama VA patients
The Chama community clinic providing VA health care under their special contract situation may not always be able to provide that care.
Also, the Chama clinic frequently changes physicians, or has temporary medical care providers, who sometimes are not too familiar with the VA health care system. There have been numerous billing errors to our veterans through the Chama office.
Since the Durango Clinic can see these same clients, it may be a good opportunity to transfer to Durango. The "Chama connection" was established back in the days in between when Farmington was closed to new patients and Durango was not open yet. The situation has changed, and I would recommend these veteran patients transfer their VA health care to Durango VA Clinic.
If you are already in the VA health care system you can transfer to the Durango clinic by calling 247-2214. They will be happy to assist you in setting up your first appointment with them.
Once that appointment is made, your VA medical records will be transferred to the Durango office. You will still go to Albuquerque VA Medical Center for higher-level specialist care. Of course new VAHC applications are automatically enrolled for Durango.
Financial means test
On another important note, most veterans enrolled in VA health care need to provide a financial "means test" report every year.
This is done on the standard VA 1010EZ form. I have noticed recently that some of our veterans have experienced appointment problems if they have not completed this financial report in over a year. Originally, veterans could waive this information and just agree to pay the co-pays. This has changed, and these same veterans must now provide the financial information to remain in VA health care.
I would urge you to stop by my office with your financial information including wage earnings, pension or compensation income, out of pocket medical expenses, owned real estate values, investments and the like.
I will assist you in preparing the form and then keep it on file here, so that each year in the future we can update the form and I can fax it to the VA for you. The form does require a signature. All VA record keeping information is confidential.
For information on these and other veterans benefits please call or stop by the Veterans Service Office located on the lower floor of the county courthouse. The office number is 264-2304, the fax number is 264-5949, and e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. The office is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 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.
Going to 'Nunsense II'?
One trip won't be enough
By Sally Hameister
"Nunsense II, The Second Coming" premieres this weekend, and I can't wait.
I'm sure those Little Hoboken Sisters have been saving up all their antics the past couple of years since we were regaled with their outrageous shenanigans in the original production of "Nunsense." If I'm not mistaken, that one set some attendance records as well as sent the laugh meter right off the charts.
Anyone who attended could pretty much describe Mary McKeehan's (Sister Mary Regina) unforgettable, bruise-inducing episode with a stool as well as Joan Hageman's (Sister Amnesia), well, amnesia. I think I only missed one performance last time and may have to miss one this time, but count on seeing me for most performances.
"Nunsense II, The Second Coming" is presented by the Pagosa Springs Music Boosters with Michael DeWinter directing, Lisa Hartley as musical director and Dale Morris handling the choreography.
Shows will be presented at 7:30 p.m. in the Pagosa Springs High School auditorium June 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 with a 3 p.m. matinee June 22.
Reserved seating tickets may be purchased at The Plaid Pony and at Moonlight Books. Adult tickets are $12, seniors are $10, and children and students are $6.
Please call 731-5262 for more information. I assure you that one performance simply won't be enough.
For those 100 folks who ordered the Chamber hanging baskets, expect a visitor tomorrow with your delivery, barring no unforeseen disasters.
You lucky devils will receive a gorgeous basket (or the appropriate numbers ordered) delivered by a real, live board director or staff member. Good grief, does it get it get any better than that?
We are delighted with the enthusiastic response we've received this year and hopefully will offer this opportunity every year. Thank you all for supporting the "Pretty Up Pagosa Project."
One final reminder to all our restaurant members that the Dining Guide will go to the printer tomorrow, and you just don't want to be left out of this important publication.
We print thousands of them at a time, and it is our experience that just about everyone who walks through the Visitor Center door wants to eat.
Not everyone is planning to stay overnight or for any length of time, but most are very interested in food - where to find it, how much it costs, anon, anon. All of that is covered in the Dining Guide which generally falls into the hands of 35,000 to 45,000 hungry guests each year.
It simply doesn't make sense for any eating establishment not to appear in our guide because, frankly, if you are not a Chamber member our Diplomats cannot and will not recommend you to the thousands who visit us every year.
Please give Morna a call at 264-2360 right away if you want to be included in this year's guide and she can fax you something post haste.
Remember, too, that the Chamber works for you regardless of where you are in Pagosa Springs. All of our marketing efforts are for each and every member and have nothing at all to do with whether you are in town, west of town or east of town. We sell the collective Pagosa Springs' businesses and try with all our might to help every business member as much as possible.
Alive and well
This has already been an extremely challenging summer for all the merchants and businesses located on Hot Springs Boulevard, and I'm afraid it's not over and won't be for awhile.
We want to assure you that everyone is open for business and would welcome your visit to their establishment even though it may be a little challenging to reach them from time to time.
Just so you know, the member businesses located in the Chamberhood are Seeds of Learning, Dr. Chen's San Juan Acupuncture Clinic, SW Colorado Mental Health Center, The Spa at Pagosa Springs, The Springs Resort, The Spring Inn, Juan's Mountain Sports, Astara Clothing and Jewelry, Harmony Works, Massage at the Springs, Best Western Oak Ridge Lodge and Squirrel's Pub and Pantry, Bank of the San Juans and, of course, the local U.S. Post Office.
We all appreciate that the results of the road construction will be awesome, but sometimes progress can be a painful process especially with the loss of business.
We always encourage you to "Shop Pagosa First" from the far west of town to the far east, but just want to remind you about the ones suffering in the "war zones."
Fly like an eagle
Wind Dancer Aviation Services, in cooperation with EAA Aviation Foundation Young Eagles program, is offering the "Thrill of Flight" this Saturday to youngsters between the ages of 8 and 17 at the Stevens Field Airport located at 777 Piedra Road.
Beginning at 7 a.m., breakfast will be served for $4 prior to taking off into the wild blue yonder. These lucky young people will experience the thrill of a free flight with a local pilot and receive an official certificate as evidence of your flight to share with family and friends.
To learn more about what promises to be an exciting day in the life of your child, please call the folks at Wind Dancer at 731-2127.
We are delighted to announce that two of our member businesses are trading places and moving up in the world.
After more than five years at 140 Country Center, the Log Park Trading Company is moving downtown to the current location of Galles Properties - which, in turn is moving to the Log Park location in the Country Center. How's that for an entertaining "teaberry shuffle?"
We have three new members to introduce to you, one name change and eight renewals. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
We are very excited to announce this first new member because we've all watched its creation with great anticipation. Just in time for all kinds of summer fun is Bogey's Mini Golf brought to us by John Voden who resides in Conifer. You will find this unique establishment on the north side of Put Hill at 83 Pike Drive and for sure won't confuse it with any other business in Pagosa. It looks like pure family entertainment to me, and you can be sure I will try it out for myself at my earliest opportunity. This should be a great addition to our summer family entertainment services in Pagosa which can only help all of us in the end. You can reach these folks by phone at 264-5858. We thank Chamber board director Angie Gayhart for recruiting John to our membership and reward that good girl with a SunDowner pass (yep, even directors pay at the door).
We next welcome yet another business designed for kids age 9 to 99: K.I.D.S. with Horses brought to us by Kristi Sweney at 109 Lisa's Court. K.I.D.S. offers natural horsemanship programs with a focus on building a relationship with horses based on love and respect. Kids from 9-99 are invited to join Kristi with their own horse or with one of hers. To learn more about K.I.D.S., please give Kristi a call at 731-1944.
Our third new member is the Aspen Springs Metro District with a mailing address at PO Box 488 and phone contact at 731-3061.
Our next members have renewed but with a name change that we are happy to share with you. Halina and Jacek Mrowca join us with Pagosa Springs Inn and Suites. This establishment was formerly the Red Lion Inn.
Our other renewals this week include Kim Griffin with C's Deli and Ice Cream Parlor (previously the Juice 'n Scoop); Joyce Hopkins with Log Park Trading Company; Harold R. Thompson, D.M.D., P.C.; Paul Hansen with Mulch Factory; Kirsten Sheehan and Kathey Keyes with the Pagosa Baking Company; Sherry MacVeigh with Fire Ready of Pagosa Springs; James and John with JJ's Upstream Restaurant; and Pat Myers with Durango Credit and Collection Company, Inc. Many thanks to one and all for your continued support.
Librarians struggle for time to read for themselves
By Lenore Bright
People assume that just because one works in a library, one gets to read a lot.
We get to skim, browse and jealously watch as the good new books go out.
I finally got my hands on "Forever," by Pete Hamill. (I had to borrow it from Joan Rohwer.)
I may have written about this epic before, but I'm so taken with it, I must suggest it again to anyone interested in New York City history and/or the Irish immigrants.
This is a story that begins in the 1700s and continues until today. The hero, Cormac O'Connor's life is intertwined with the secrets of Manhattan. His story is unforgettable drama.
Another inspirational book I had the pleasure of reading is "A Life Larger Than Pain The Pathway From Resignation to Renewal" by Erv Hinds, M.D. It was donated by Kate Terry in memory of John Schoenborn.
Dr. Hinds is a specialist in pain management and anesthesiology. He is a member of the International Spinal Injection Society. He is also the founder of the New Mexico Pain and Spine Center at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque.
Dr. Hinds' book has become required reading for many physicians. One reviewer wrote, " Š his audience is everyone, those hurting, those who remember hurting and those who worry about hurting in the future." The book relates spirituality and medical procedures with integrity. I can recommend it from personal experience.
One paragraph reads, "Our technical age has bred in us a preoccupation with technique and created the illusion that we are in control of our lives. It has fed our sense of entitlement to long life and physical beauty. Ancient wisdom recognized the shortcomings of such a perspective."
Dr. Hinds reminds us that "Loss has a way of forcing us to give up our personal agendas. When we stop making demands for what we want, we will have room to acknowledge what we have."
Chews to Read
As of press time, close to 200 children had signed up for our summer reading program.
We have the usual returnees and many new faces. It is always a pleasure to see the names and faces of college scholarship recipients who were once in our program.
Here are our first week's prizewinners.
Lucky Readers of the Week: Keith Archuleta, Caitlin Cameron, Mattisen Mundall, Austin Miller, James Berndt, Elena Donharl, Courtney Spears, Garrett Lyle, Tyson Ross, Samantha Townsley, Delaney Sanchez and Julia LeLievre.
Story writing contest winners: Mele LeLievre, Chris Jackson, Courtney Spears, Tasha Rayburn, William Boen, Eric Medina-Chavez, Sierra Monteferrante, Kudra Wagner and Sarah Sanna.
Coloring contest winners: Eric Medina-Chavez, Ty Kimsey, Mark Mundall, James Berndt, Joseph Berndt, Trey Spears, Zack Curvey, Jacqueline Garcia, Trevor Bryant, Colton Castro, Timothy Cochran, Jacob Gregg, Savannah Brown, Kai Wagner, Barak Townsend, Tasha Rayburn, Jaime Kirkland, Kerry Honan, Julia LeLievre, Leslie Baughman, Jaylen Ochoa, Courtney Spears, Niki Monteferrante, Sierra Monteferrante and Timothy LeVonious.
Honorable Mention: Shaun Jackson, Jennifer Mueller, Christian Fast, J.R. Boen, Brock Cordova, Breezy Bryant, Emily Bryant, Anne Townsend, Walker Powe, Matthew Munsall, Dylan Lindberg, Cody Kimsey, Dylan Pastin, Jude Lindberg, Trenton Cordova, Meghan Mundall, Kudra Wagner, Teanna Ochoa, Michelle Church, Tristin Johnson, Kelley McKenzie, Mattisen Mundall, Karrington Castro, Caitlin Cameron, Keaton Anderson and Daniel Rivas.
Drawing contest: Daniel Rivas, Meghan Mundall, Mark Mundall, Barak Townsend, Sierra Monteferrante, Walker Powe, Sarah Sanna, Leslie Baughman, Caitlin Cameron, Angie Gallegos, Matthew Mundall, Tasha Rayburn, Breezy Bryant, Jaime Kirkland, Anne Townsend and Crystal Wilson.
The summer reading program continues for five more weeks and anyone can sign up any time. The story times are Tuesday and Friday mornings, 10-11. Come join the fun.
Do we need more room at the library? Stop by one of these storytime mornings and see for your self.
Financial help came from the Mountain View Homemaker's Club. Their sponsor gift to the building fund in honor of Wilma Morrison was gratefully accepted.
We received an associate gift from the VFW Post Auxiliary 9695. We were saddened to read: "The VFW Aux. 9695 is in the process of forfeiting their charter. One of the last motions made, seconded and carried was that $50 was donated to the Ruby Sisson Memorial Library." Another part of our community history is fading away. We thank all of the members for their selfless dedication and good works through the years.
Thank you for materials from Inge Tinklenberg, Holly Bergon, Joan and Larry Blue, Carrie Levonius, Ruth Oberholtzer and Josephine Phillips. Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. E. Showalter for a subscription to Forbes magazine.
Ashlyn Rose Plantiko was born April 23, 2003, at Mercy Medical Center in Durango, Colo., the daughter of Jason and Lori Plantiko of Pagosa Springs. She weighed 6 pounds, 8 ounces, and measured 19 inches. Ashlyn was welcomed home by sister, Kayli. Grandparents are Derrick and Suzy Smith of Pagosa Springs, April and David Plantiko of Redondo Beach, Calif., and Bill and Marylou Wisdom of Craig, Colo.
Cannon Aaron Horton was born May 13, 2003, in Durango, Colo., to Aaron and Judy Horton of Pagosa Springs. The young man weighed in at 5 pounds, 7 ounces, and measured 18 inches. Grandparents are Roger and Liz Horton of Pagosa Springs; Juan Garcia and Ana Cazarez of Nayarit, Mexico. Lindsay Horton of Pagosa Springs is an aunt and Ramon Garcia of Nayarit, an uncle.
Pagosa Springs welcomes a new resident - Calamity the Clown.
Calamity's show, Calamity and Friends, has been performed in seven states and the Circus World Museum's Big Top. The show includes comedy magic, puppetry, face painting and balloon sculpturing.
Calamity performs with or without her trained dog and Macaw parrot with the purpose of producing "happy childhood memories." She can help with the perfect birthday party or family reunion.
Calamity graduated from the University of Wisconsin's Clown School and has been entertaining audiences for eight years. Her clown ministry has taken her to two foreign countries and many special church functions. Adults as well as children learn from her Gospel messages.
Contact Calamity at 731-0314.
Mr. and Mrs. James Willingham of Pagosa Springs would like to announce the engagement of their daughter, Desiree Willingham, to Dylan Pruitt, son of Jim and Beverly Pruitt. The couple will be married June 28, 2003.
Robert G. Davis of Layton, Utah, and Dorothy A. Eichvalds of Pagosa Springs are pleased to announce their engagement. The wedding will take place in Pagosa Springs Sept. 20, 2003. The couple will reside in Pagosa Springs.
Levi Gill and Jessica Harms attended the Rotary International Western Leadership Conference in Lamar June 8-11. They were chosen to represent Pagosa Springs High School and given a scholarship for expenses by sponsors, Pagosa Springs Rotary Club. They were among 160 high school students from throughout the Western United States attending the 12th annual conference.
There's no end to what we can do
Community walks to support, remember
and find a cure
By Tess Noel Baker
To not be touched by this disease is almost impossible.
Open a church bulletin and turn to the list of prayer requests, it'll be there.
Call family, friends, and community members and eventually that six-letter word comes up. It can inspire any range of emotions - anger, pain, despair and hope.
It is that hope that is the focus of Relay for Life, a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society and its search for a cure, coming to Pagosa Springs Friday and Saturday.
Twenty-four relay teams will walk from 6 p.m. Friday into the morning hours Saturday to remind people cancer never sleeps.
Along the journey, teams will engage in several hilarious games and a little good-natured competition. Luminaria in support of or in memory of someone's courage in the battle with the disease will line the path through Town Park. A variety of yummy treats will fuel the walker's feet and push them on to dawn.
It's one night of inspiration to fuel the fires to battle, to accept, to encourage, to help in the war against cancer.
But it's just one way to spread hope to a cancer patient. Many more exist: providing transportation to and from treatment locations; phoning devastated relatives a half a continent away. A heartfelt prayer.
Pagosan Doug Trowbridge has taken the phone call several times. Two words that signal the start of battle.
His wife's brother-in-law. Two uncles. Most recently, his sister-in-law. All of them struggling a great distance away.
"It's very frustrating to try to provide support from here rather than being there in person," he said.
"Thank goodness for cell phones," his wife, Morna, added. Currently, the phone rings back and forth from New Jersey at least once a week, sometimes more, as the Trowbridges keep track of Doug's sister-in-law's condition and keep tabs on her husband.
"When he first called to tell us about it, I was as afraid for him as I was for her," said Doug. "You could just tell in his voice, he was terrified."
Since then, they have kept up the phone calls, sent cards, e-mailed some research information. Doug even flew to the East Coast in May to be there in person - at least for a little while - to offer his support.
He also offered his own head. At least his scalp. As a little surprise, Trowbridge shaved his head bald to show solidarity with his sister-in-law. The cancer treatment had already robbed her of her hair and she had refused to show her bald scalp to anyone.
"Her hair was very special to her, it was down to her waist," he said. "No one has seen her without her hair. I didn't know if this would be a catalyst for her to feel comfortable with that or just an opportunity to show support."
In the end, it might not have been a catalyst, but it did provide some good laughs.
"She thought it was hilarious," Trowbridge said. Not only that, but the patient had a good week, and was able to enjoy the family gathered around her.
That's what it's all about - creating joy, creating smiles, creating hope.
Susan and Tom Thorpe faced the disease for the first time three years ago while living in Cincinnati when routine testing revealed Tom had prostate cancer.
"This was the first experience with cancer for both of us," Sue said. "Tom had not had any symptoms. There was no family history of cancer."
To get through it, they leaned, first, on each other.
"Tom was the biggest support," Susan said. "He decided we're going to take a good hard look and try to make the best of it."
As for Susan, Tom said, she often gave him the perspective he needed to make decisions and helped him reassert control over his life. They also received support from friends, family and coworkers. Sometimes it was just a telephone call that helped. Other times it was information from people who had "been there, done that."
In the end, Tom decided on surgery, the most radical of the treatment options, and endured a long recovery process to give himself the best chance to beat the disease.
"The biggest challenge was getting to the point of being able to say the word cancer to people in public and own that and know that we were going to do everything we could to make that bug as miserable as possible," he said.
Following Tom's recovery, the couple moved to Pagosa Springs believing they had indeed beat the bug. Then tests showed otherwise. Radiation treatment would be necessary.
Initially, the thought of enduring a new medical challenge in a brand new place was daunting, but the community came through. Their church placed him on the prayer list. They began to meet other survivors. And then there was the Road to Recovery program. For seven weeks, Tom said, these volunteers drove him to and from treatment, taking a load off Susan's mind and opening the door to meeting more new people.
"Those folks were just great," he said. "They were empathetic and willing to help in any way they could."
"He got to meet just the most wonderful, supportive people," Susan added.
Some of the other survivors were among the most important.
"As the caregiver," she said, "There was a certain degree of feeling a little left out of this because I didn't have cancer - not in a negative way by any means - but I couldn't understand what Tom was going through spiritually and emotionally because it wasn't me that had cancer. I remember a number of times when I felt grateful he had other survivors to bond with. Likewise, I found a great deal of support as I got to know other caregivers."
In the end, Tom said, it's all the little pieces of support put together that really matter. Anyone can help.
The American Cancer Society Web site lists several ideas for people looking for ways to support friends, family and cancer patients. These include helping a patient organize the details of life, providing emotional support, becoming a patient advocate or becoming a cancer activist. It also lists several more concrete options. For instance, a person could:
- offer to do research for the patient
- send a meal or schedule meal deliveries for a patient and family
- offer to help with childcare or schedule pickups and drop-offs at day care
- transport the patient to health care appointments
- help run errands
- offer to take phone calls for an afternoon if the patient is tired and needs rest
- Coordinate visitors or sending cards, flowers or gifts to the patient
- contribute to related charities in the friend's name
- plan a party when treatment is concluded or an anniversary milestone reached.
Or shave that head and get on an airplane. Trowbridge said his haircut turned more than his family's heads.
"It's kind of funny," Trowbridge said. "A lot of people are laughing and saying, 'Nice summer haircut.'"
Others simply struggle to come up with the words. They think he might be the one with cancer. Their friend. Their neighbor. "They come up to me and they're doing everything not to ask. I tell them why I did it and they're so relieved." Some have even handed him money for the Relay once they hear his explanation.
After all, everything helps in this war.
For more information or ideas, stop by Town Park between 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday. Browse through the booths under the Big Top. Talk to a survivor, or just absorb the atmosphere and walk away with hope.
History awaits in a tour of nearby northern New Mexico
By John M. Motter
Diversity. A good, accurate one-word description of the people and landscape our pioneer forefathers encountered when settling the San Juan region of Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.
As to landscape, consider driving for about one hour from Arboles in the southwestern corner of Archuleta to the summit of Wolf Creek Pass in Mineral County. Arboles is at best a semi-desert region with less than 10 inches a year of annual rainfall. Remove the irrigating ditches connected with Vallecito Reservoir and the area is arid, mostly unfit for agriculture.
Still, Arboles has at least one major advantage over the otherwise well-watered, lush-by-comparison Wolf Creek Pass. Arboles has about a month longer growing season because it's elevation is about 5-6,000 feet, Wolf Creek above 10,000 feet.
The point is, the first settlers had a wide range of diverse geography to figure out, much of the figuring done by trial and error.
The problem was: How do we make a living here? At the time of settlement, roughly between 1860 and 1885, most people in this nation earned a living by growing crops or raising animals, or both. Geography and available resources provided the answer.
Hard rock mining took care of itself. Naturally, the miners lived in towns near the mines, often at elevations as high as Wolf Creek Pass, towns such as Silverton and Summitville. And, just as naturally, the food to feed the miners had to be grown at lower elevations.
And so, as the miners dug ore and built towns at high elevations, other settlers searched lower elevations for good agricultural land that could be irrigated. Agricultural communities sprang up along the Pine River near Bayfield and along the San Juan River in the vicinities of today's Farmington and Aztec.
The farming communities along the lower San Juan River found themselves in direct competition with ranchers. Those first ranchers were cattle barons scattered throughout the San Juan Basin, but concentrated in the western part. In those early years before overgrazing, grass was abundant. Even at elevations above 10,000 feet with the very short summer season, grass grows knee deep. Cattle moved up and down the mountains taking advantage of seasonal grass productivity, just as the elk still do.
Other communities popped up along the supply routes between the mines and the agricultural areas. One of those communities was Pagosa Springs.
Pagosa Springs had no mineral deposits such as gold or silver or lead. It was not a mining town. Pagosa was also too high in elevation to be a major agricultural area. Pagosa did have good grass and supported a lively cattle and sheep industry. Certain root crops such as potatoes did well. And grains such as oats, wheat, and barley did well.
But mainly, Pagosa was located along one of the main roads leading to the San Juan Basin and the mining communities around Silverton on the upper Animas River.
While people were figuring out how to make a living in the upper and western part of the San Juan Basin, one settlement of communities, La Tierra Amarilla, already existed in the upper Chama River Valley of New Mexico Territory.
La Tierra Amarilla was located on the main road connecting Santa Fe with the San Juan gold fields, the only passable road during the winter. Consequently, many of those first pioneers obtained their supplies from La Tierra Amarilla.
Today, the best known community there called Tierra Amarilla is the Rio Arriba county seat. During first settlement of the San Juans, Tierra Amarilla was better known as Las Nutritas. La Tierra Amarilla described an area containing many communities.
The oldest settlement may have been attempted in 1832 at a place called Cañones, north of Brazos. Apparently the Utes discouraged that effort.
Other unsuccessful settlement attempts may have been made before permanent settlement was accomplished in 1860. Prior to 1860, settlement of La Tierra Amarilla may have been seasonal and "whenever the Indians were quiet."
The earliest permanent settlements were at Los Brazos, La Puente, Los Ojos, Cañones, Ensenada and Las Nutritas. Los Ojos appears to have been the principal commercial center during those early years.
Those first settlers were mostly Hispanics from the Abiquiu area. A number of Anglos were included, however, including Thomas Burns who operated the general store in Los Ojos and later in Las Nutritas. Early San Juan Basin pioneers would likely have purchased supplies from Burns. He did supply hay and grain to Fort Lewis when it located in Pagosa Springs in 1878. Burns was the founder of Burns National Bank in Durango.
Along about 1871, a new colony was established on the Tierra Amarilla near the abandoned El Barranco site north of Los Brazos. The New Mexico Stock and Agricultural Association of Chicago laid out a site for the town of Park View. Lots and a city hall location were staked out and a group of Swedish immigrants induced to settle there. The population reached as high as 75, but the effort proved to be a fraud and the inhabitants moved on to Colorado.
Somehow, the nearby, but older community of Los Ojos became known as Park View, a mistake that was not corrected until 1972 when the community regained its original name.
Tierra Amarilla is interesting for more than its historic function as a supply point for exploration and settlement of the San Juan Basin.
Systematic architectural, historic and archeological surveys have been conducted in the area by the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Division since 1970. A large number of buildings typical of various phases of New Mexico Hispanic construction have been identified.
A book titled "La Tierra Amarilla, Its History, Architecture, and Cultural Landscape" identifies and describes each of these buildings. Maps are included so that anyone can locate the buildings. In addition, much history is included telling about who built and occupied the buildings. Authored by Chris Wilson and David Kammer, the book was printed by the Museum of New Mexico Press, P.O. Box 2087, Santa Fe, N.M. 87504-2087.
The book's foreward was written by Robert J. Torrez, State Historian, New Mexico Records Center and Archives. Torrez grew up in the area.
Another good source of information about the area is "La Tierra Amarilla: The People of the Chama Valley," edited by Anselmo F. Arellano and published by Chama Valley Independent Schools, District 19, Tierra Amarilla. Torrez also wrote the introduction for this book.
Anyone living in Pagosa Country with an interest in history and an eye for Hispanic architecture would enjoy visiting the area. The five communities mentioned along with 21 structures and seven acequias, or irrigation systems, are included on the New Mexico Register of Cultural Properties and the National Register of Historic Places.
The drive from Pagosa Springs to the area requires less than an hour. Several decent eating establishments are available, especially for those with palates craving Southwest cooking. While Chama is not included in the subject area, Chama is an old railroad town with more commercial establishments, gift shops, motels, and restaurants. Chama could be included on the tour.
It's all in the giving
It is not unusual to hear the remark: "Every time you turn around,
someone comes at you with their hand out, looking for a dona-
tion." It is not unusual to hear someone note an increase of people and organizations seeking contributions from the residents of Pagosa Country.
As is the assertion that government cannot and should not attempt to meet every need of every citizen: government is too clumsy, too rule-bound, too inefficient to do so.
It is the private sector that serves to fill the holes in the social fabric.
There are many causes and needs to be served. Rather than being distressing, this realization illuminates things about us that are bracing, that inspire confidence.
Our response to requests for charity defines our character and heart as a community - and we look quite healthy.
In a time when news too often concerns greed, selfishness, corruption, dishonesty and mean-spirited discourse, it is refreshing to realize we are, despite it all, a generous and caring people. It is comforting to know that we continue, in the face of increasing demand, to be so.
The residents of Pagosa Country have remained generous, amping up their efforts in direct proportion to our overall economic success.
We lend our support, year in and year out to causes that vary widely in terms of their goals.
For example, tomorrow night, the annual Relay for Life starts in Town Park. Pagosa residents, their families and friends, will gather to walk the course, to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Participants and donors make their marks in this event in memory of those who have fought, and at times lost, battles to cancer and devote their energy to helping fund research that could someday find cures for the disease. The participants engage in the effort with great, good humor, and vitality. Every year, they do a fine job. And those who give do a fine job as well.
Serving an entirely different end, the local high school booster club is currently raising funds to support extracurricular activities. There are also several private sport clubs in the area that raise funds and provide programs for youngsters. There are church groups that serve our youth, funded by generous patrons. They do so for the indigent and elderly as well.
Habitat for Humanity builds homes, helped by donated funds and volunteer labor
Civic organizations raise funds with charity nights, golf tournaments, dinners, donations of sales commissions, to provide money for scholarship funds. It would be a task to figure the number of local graduates who have benefited from the work of these organizations, the number of young people whose educations beyond high school have been boosted by fellow Pagosans.
The same holds true for the many people, victims of accidents and disease, whose medical expenses have been eased because their neighbors pitched in to help them.
Even the animals benefit from our generosity. Much of the local humane society's work is funded with donations.
Yes, there are more hands held out. And, with ongoing state budget woes, there will be more hands joining the crowd soon asking for our help keeping valuable efforts alive.
Many of us, newcomers and old-timers alike, express a desire to "get involved."
The best kind of involvement is participation in one of the many charitable organizations and events in this community. To get to know who we really are and what we are about, there is no better way than to lend a hand where it is most needed.
Obsolesence or personal touch?
By Richard Walter
Engineered obsolescence has hit the Walter family.
Within weeks after the seven-year car warranty on the family buggy expired, the spectre of having it fall apart loomed.
It seemed like just a minor repair would be needed at first.
But, let me set the scenario, one that might have been funny had it not been so rattling.
Driving east on Pagosa Street, I signalled for a right turn onto 2nd Street.
I knew something was wrong when the signal lever was still in my hand after the turn.
Modern vehicles have every conceivable control element built into one central, handy area, like the turn signal lever.
Imagine my chagrin as the windshield washer solvent kept pumping away until the container was empty.
The turn signal was still blinking and there appeared no way to turn it off.
The wipers, after the washer fluid was gone, reverted to delay mode, making one swipe every 30 seconds or so.
I got home and examined the situation. The lever appeared to be a plug in apparatus with a plastic shield which now had one side missing.
I tried plugging it back in and succeeded in getting the turn signal to stop blinking - perhaps, as it turned out, permanently. But, when I turned the headlights on, they were on high beam and the signal lever would not kick them down to low.
I took the car to Scott, who has done wonders for me before, and was told it needed to go to someone more experienced, someone with the right tools, someone, I guess, who wouldn't laugh.
Wasn't what I wanted to hear.
I found myself trying to remember to open the window to signal for right and left turns and sat trying to squirm out of sight, hiding from recognition, my arm out the window and the wiper blades sweeping periodically at every stop light.
Not a cloud in the sky, no sign of rain, and here's some nut with his windshield wipers on, trying as hard as he can to stay incognito.
On second thought, maybe it's not planned obsolescence, maybe just the curse of the personal touch.
After all, my recent experience with a semi-new lawnmower still under warranty was just as mysterious.
Used only four times during from purchase through the year of drought, I planned to get my yard back to respectability this year. Got a new blade and had Plumber put it on.
Worked like a charm, for about half of the yard. And then the engine stopped. Electrical short? Bad cord? Nope. Indicator light shows power reaching the machine but it just doesn't run.
As this is being written it is still out for repair on warranty. Nearly new, brightly polished, and inoperable. I never even got to use the handy, dandy side bag grass catcher.
Just got a callback from Cody saying replacement of the signal-remote unit master control arm is complete.
If you're one of those who laughed, your time has run out - and I can sit up in the seat again.
90 years ago
Taken from Pagosa Springs New Era files of June 20, 1913
Many of the trees in the park are apparently dying owing it is believed to the roots and bases of the trees being covered deeply in sand by the big 1911 flood.
The deaf and dumb lady who was not deaf and dumb, the lady who smiled engagingly from under costly willow plumes got away with about $60 of the moneys of Pagosa's chivalrous male population before the marshal gave her a scare that caused her to quit the town without waiting for the train.
Marshal McConnel informs us that the deaf and dumb lady, her affinity and the bull terrier were taken into custody in Chama. The railroad town apparently got a tip of what was headed its way.
75 years ago
Taken from SUN files of June 22, 1928
A "baker's dozen" of men gathered at the H.A. Bryant ranch north of town Tuesday to participate in an old-fashioned "barn raising." They spent a good day at labor, in which much effective work was accomplished, and also participated in a mammoth dinner, prepared by Mrs. Bryant.
A fire completely destroyed the former Houser Lumber Manufacturing Company planing mill, located near the depot about two o'clock Wednesday morning. It had made such headway when discovered that little could be done toward extinguishing the enormous blaze. Light, power and telephone lines went out of commission because of the fire, but were again put in repair on Wednesday.
50 years ago
Taken from SUN files of June 19, 1953
The building around town continues and several new projects have been started. The Chevron Station is being completely rebuilt and new tanks being put in. The dirt from the excavation is being dumped over the bank on main street and will eventually widen the street for more parking space. The Basin Court is practically completed, as are the additions at Vic's Service Station. All in all there appears to be more building than othe
r years in and around town.
Sunday will see hot rod auto races at the Red Ryder Round-Up grounds. It appears that even more thrills are in store for those who attend than were present at the last race. It is expected that about 1,000 new seats will be in readiness giving the fans a better view of the races.
25 years ago
Taken from SUN files of June 22, 1978
State Highway Department crews have completed the overlay of the highway through town and it is a very decided improvement. Painting of center lines and crosswalks remains to be done, but the new oil coat has improved the appearance and surface of the highway about 100 percent.
It has been hot and dry in these parts the past week with the mercury hitting a sweltering 82 degrees one day this week. The San Juan River is starting to recede and the peak of the spring runoff is past. There has been no precipitation and the fire danger is mounting. Campers, hikers, and others in the outdoors are urged to use caution when building fires.