December 28, 2006

Front Page

Corps to send river project permit

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

A permit to begin phase two of the town's San Juan River Restoration Project remains pending, but the United States Army Corps of Engineers anticipates the permit's arrival at town offices soon after the new year.

Kara Hellige, chief of the corps' Durango Regulatory Office, said the permit has passed her desk for review, and has gone on to her supervisor, Shawn Zinszer, chief of the Intermountain Regulatory Section, Sacramento District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Hellige is the key liaison between the corps and the town, and has worked extensively on the town's permit.

Hellige said once Zinszer returns from a holiday break he will review the permit and send a letter and copies of the permit to Town Manager Mark Garcia for review.

According to Hellige, if the town finds the permit and its conditions acceptable, Garcia will sign the documents and mail them back to the corps, with a valid permit sent to the town soon thereafter. If town officials disagree with the conditions of the permit, they can begin an informal appeal process - essentially negotiations with Hellige. If Hellige and the town cannot find common ground during negotiations, Hellige said the town can enter into a formal appeals process with the South Pacific Division of the corps.

Although Hellige did not anticipate significant delays in shuttling the permit paperwork between Zinszer and Garcia, she said a formal appeal, if filed, is where real delays could begin.

The town has been working to finalize permit acquisition for phase two since summer, but the corps and the town have butted heads over the town's prior river work completed in March 2005.

Among the issues during the 2005 work the corps states, was the town's unlawful removal of a U.S. Geological Survey gauging station on the San Juan River, the unauthorized installation and the use of grout to stabilize a structure placed downstream from the Hot Springs Boulevard bridge and the town's river work in general during March 2005 that the agency says exceeded the scope of the town's permit.

Garcia has denied the final allegation and has long asserted the town operated within the bounds of the permit. In addition, grout has been a major point of contention between the two parties.

Hellige asserts that grout negatively affects river hydrology by blocking the flow-through of sediment and other debris, and because grout fills cracks between rocks, it also eliminates key habitat for macro and micro invertebrates

The town has argued that grout creates a more stable structure which requires less maintenance in the long-term and fewer reasons to re-enter the river later with heavy machinery required for a structure's repair.

Although Hellige said the permit does not mandate removal of the structure below the Hot Springs Boulevard Bridge, she said the permit includes standards for all in-stream structures, both proposed for phase two and installed during March 2005.

Once the town and the corps have each signed the permit, the permit becomes valid and the town will commence implementation of phase two. Implementation involves project engineer Gary Lacy transforming the town's conceptual plan into engineered plans supported by hydrologic analysis and modeling. Hellige will then review Lacy's engineering.

Following Hellige's review and approval, the town can commence in-stream work.

As proposed, phase two includes bank stabilization and a series of in-stream structures between the Hot Springs Boulevard Bridge and the Apache Street Bridge.

The original target date for construction to begin was winter 2007.

 

School nutrition program stalled

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

Archuleta County School District 50 Joint will likely postpone a cooperative effort with community members to rework the meals program at the elementary school, while concerned parents and educators will continue to promote better health and nutrition through information campaigns.

Charlotte Lee, food service director for the district, informed a local nutrition action group that the school district should wait to implement any significant changes to its meals program until after March, and possibly next school year, due to a nutrition review by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).

The nutrition group, made up of parents, teachers and community members, had wanted to begin a pilot program in the elementary school, which would reduce processed foods, sodium, refined sugars and trans fats. The idea of a pilot program, in cooperation with Lee and Kate Lister, principal of the elementary school, was encouraged by district officials, including Superintendent Duane Noggle, in a meeting with representatives of the group last month.

Lee prepared an information packet for the nutrition group, as instructed by Noggle during the meeting, upon a request for information from the nutrition group.

Included with the packet was a note to representatives of the nutrition group, Ronnie Doctor and Crista Munro, saying that Lee had spoken to a representative of the CDE, who suggested that the district should wait to make changes until after the department's annual review of the meals program in March, according to Lee's note.

"We have a lot of planning and kinks to work out and this should wait until after March, or even next year," said the note.

Along with the note, the packet included food safety requirements, school meals numbers and reimbursement figures, six sample menus from other Colorado schools with similar food offerings, and minimum USDA menu nutritional requirements - along with difficulties Lee saw in the nutrition group's hope to start a pilot program.

Some of the potential problems included the need for an additional serving line, training of volunteers, maintaining appropriate food temperatures, space, equipment and staffing, according to an introductory letter attached to the packet, written by Lee

Nutrition group leaders Munro and Doctor said last week that they could not establish communication with Lee in order to discuss and plan the pilot program, and have only received the information contained in the packet.

According to Munro, a lack of a mutual understanding of what a pilot program at the elementary school would entail only adds to the miscommunication.

When asked about the delay of the pilot program, Noggle said he did not know, for sure, what effect the review would have on the planned pilot program, though he did not envision a serious delay. He also said the district has already instituted a pilot program of its own, taking measures to improve nutrition, including offering two meals per week containing unprocessed foods.

In the introductory letter, Lee outlined nutritional changes the district has already made or is in the process of making, such as offering fresh fruit at every meal, applying for a fresh-fruit commodity program through the USDA, serving "hardly any really sweet desserts," and adding to safety procedures.

The district has also begun the process of making its vending machine offerings healthier, though they are now under contract, according to Noggle.

Currently, most of the food served in the school district is processed. District officials, including Noggle and Lee, have cited budgetary pressures (including staffing and food facilities) as a reason the district relies on processed food.

With costs in mind, Lee asked the nutrition group to prepare a sample menu for one month, planning breakfast and lunch for the whole district, 1,200 meals per day.

"After you get the menu to me I will contact both vendors and get prices. I will also run each day through our program, to make sure it complies with the CDE standards. Then we could do a trial for a few days or maybe a week, depending on how expensive things are," wrote Lee, who went on to say the trial would show how well the students would accept the nutritional changes.

Munro and Doctor said it was their understanding, after meeting with district officials last month, that the nutrition group would be asked to focus on the elementary school, in its work on the pilot program and any menus.

The two co-founders of the nutrition group worried that they were being given an impossible task in the form of the month-long menu, since they do not have all the information or experience necessary to succeed. A month-long, district-wide menu could easily be shot down as too costly, they thought, while the nutrition group could manage smaller steps with the guidance of the district. They said any plan (especially a month-long menu) would require cooperation with and input from Lee, during the process, in order to be a success.

Munro suggested it would be more pragmatic to start with a two-week menu that could be rotated into the elementary school's current menu, on a trial basis, but she also expressed a willingness to consider a gradual phase-in of healthy foods, rather than a pilot program.

As far as the menu proposals, Noggle suggested that Lee was trying to understand the goals of the nutrition group, while providing the group with information on requirements - both governmental and budgetary.

Though any pilot program appears grounded, at least temporarily, the nutrition group is taking steps to promote healthier nutrition in the schools. In cooperation with the elementary school administration and Parents in Education (PIE), the nutrition group will facilitate a week-long nutrition fair during elementary school lunches in late February and early March.

The nutrition group's work in the elementary school will employ the USDA's new food pyramid, which can be found at MyPyramid.gov.

The new pyramid represents healthy food and lifestyle choices, which are thoroughly explained in the information that accompanies the symbol. According to the pyramid, a 2,000-calorie diet should include six ounces of grains, at least half from whole grains; 2.5 cups of vegetables, including dark-green and orange varieties and dry beans, peas and lentils; two cups of fruit, while limiting fruit juice (and eliminating sugared juices); three cups of low-fat milk products, or substitutes high in calcium; 5.5 ounces of lean meats or protein alternatives, prepared without increasing fat content; and six teaspoons of liquid oils (with butter, lard and shortening eliminated), in order to avoid saturated and trans fats.

The pyramid suggests the avoidance of added sugars and fats, while stating that the only way to be sure of a food's content is to look at the label.

The pyramid also advocates at least 30 minutes of exercise for adults and 60 minutes of exercise for children on most days.

Individuals can build their own personal food pyramid at the MyPyramid.gov Web site.

 

New safety system, noise rules, at airport

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

In keeping with a trend established early in his four-month tenure at Stevens Field, Archuleta County Airport Manager George Barter has worked tirelessly to resolve issues directly affecting aviation service, public safety and community relations. Over the past several weeks, he and staff have furthered progress in each of these areas.

Early this month, crews finished installing an Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) near the north ramp, adjacent to the new fixed base operations (FBO) building at midfield. The facility is now in "test mode" and awaits final inspection and commission by the Federal Aviation Administration, before becoming an official observation station. Barter thinks FAA approval could take another couple of weeks, or more.

To listen to the AWOS system, anyone can call (970)731-0365, or tune in to aviation radio frequency 127.175. Those interested can also view the AWOS information on a computer monitor located at the information counter of the Avjet front office. Avjet, the Fixed Base Operator, occupies the main floor of the new FBO building at the end of Cloman Boulevard, off Piedra Road.

Once approved and commissioned, the AWOS system will help meteorologists, pilots and flight dispatchers prepare and monitor weather forecasts, plan flight routes, and provide necessary information for correct takeoffs and landings. The system will provide continuous data on conditions at the runway touchdown level.

AWOS units provide a minute-to-minute update to pilots by VHF radio or non-directional beacon, and every hour, AWOS data is available to off-site users by means of long-line telephone communication or satellite uplink.

In a matter for consideration and approval, Barter submitted a new voluntary noise abatement policy to the Archuleta County Airport Advisory Commission, at its regular monthly meeting, Dec. 21. Crafted, in part, from similar policies utilized by other airports, the document explains how current federal regulations prohibit airport operators from imposing restrictions on pilots and other users that might reduce airport access. Examples cited, include curfews, limited hours of operation and bans on particular types of aircraft.

The policy further describes the FAA as the only agency with the authority to direct or control aircraft in flight, and explains how all flight procedures must obtain FAA approval before being implemented. At present, based on existing FAA regulations, voluntary noise abatement and mitigation programs are in place at airports around the nation, and are largely effective through pilot cooperation.

Meanwhile, based on a previous environmental assessment at Stevens Field, and perceived impacts from current noise levels there, the FAA does not consider concerns significant, and do not warrant mandatory restrictions, such as those listed above.

Nevertheless, Stevens Field management has developed an ongoing study of noise complaints, and asks those with criticism to call (970) 731-3060 and voice their concerns.

The voluntary noise abatement policy, though dependant on the cooperation of pilots using Stevens Field, is an attempt to minimize and mitigate the impacts of air operations on the surrounding community. Following its consideration of the document, the ACAAC endorsed it, subject to a single change. The current version reads:

"Runway 19 is Stevens Field's preferred landing runway for noise abatement. The Stevens Field prevailing wind is from the south, which also supports landings on Runway 19. Stevens Field asks that all aircraft use the full length of the runway for take off, and that during departure, aircraft climb at the best rate to at least 1,000 AGL, making a reduction in power as soon as safely possible. When Runway 19 departures leave airport property, a left turn to the southeast will take aircraft around Stevens Field's most sensitive noise area directly south of runway 19. Stevens Field recommends that arrivals delay descent to pattern altitude until necessary, then use a standard left hand traffic pattern. Safety is Stevens Field's first priority and nothing in this policy is meant to override safety of flight."

The single change that pilots and ACAAC board members asked for in the policy involved takeoffs. While the original policy letter suggested that "the use of runway 19 is recommended whenever possible," the current version omits that statement and simply expresses how Runway 19 takeoffs should be performed, when preferred over a Runway 1 departure.

The current policy implies that runway 1 departures are acceptable, thus allowing pilots departing from the Taxiway Bravo hangers to avoid a mile-and-a-half taxi to the north end of the runway.

Also earlier this month, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners approved a 2006/2007 snow-removal contract with Hart Construction of Pagosa Springs. According to the terms, each plowing, or "snow event," will cost county taxpayers $4,200 for the first 10 events, and $4,000 per event, thereafter. According to Barter, the snow-removal contract is based on projected snow events requiring the removal of at least three inches of snow from the airport runway, aprons and taxiway.

Just two weeks after the snow-removal contract gained BOCC approval, Stevens Field and the surrounding area received its first big snow of the season. Faced with plowing nearly a foot from paved airport surfaces, Hart Construction utilized older plowing and snow-removal equipment purchased at a 2005 auction, by former airport manager Rob Russ. Happily, all went well, and many affiliated with the airport expressed satisfaction with Hart's performance and the overall outcome.

With new equipment, contracts and policies in place, Barter and staff have also created an instrument designed to keep the community informed of ongoing changes and activities at the airport.

Entitled, "Air Mail," the first edition newsletter is dated December 2006 and appears to be the first of a monthly publication. Presumably, the letter will be mailed to anyone included on a specific mailing list, but it is also available at the airport link on the Archuleta County Web site at archuletacounty.org.

 

Inside The Sun

Pagosan to take humanitarian aid to Mexican orphanage

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

Local nurse practitioner Dan Keuning will travel to Mexico Jan. 14 to provide humanitarian aid to an orphanage, small hospital and villages in the mountain states of Colima and Guerrero.

Keuning obtained a grant for $10,000 in medications from the drug company Schering-Plough to supply the poor rural region. In addition to supplying medications to the area, Keuning is seeking donations in support of Casa Hogar Los Angelitos, the orphanage, and Ministries of Love (which works to support poor, abandoned or abused children).

According to the Children's Foundation of Colorado, which oversees donations to Casa Hogar and Ministries of Love, there are more than 6,000 children in the region, under the age of 5, who are documented to be abandoned, in extreme abusive situations or suffering from severe hunger. Ministries of Love has started providing food in one of the poorest areas of the region, feeding over 200 families with children in desperate situations.

Casa Hogar Los Angelitos in Manzanillo, Colima, currently houses 36 children, with a monthly operations budget of $9,000. By spring, the orphanage plans to take in several more children in need, bringing its numbers up to 50. The increase will also raise monthly expenses to $12,500 and necessitate the construction of a third house, according to Tina Rosenthal of the Children's Foundation, who said it is already difficult to meet current expenses. The orphanage is also trying to finish construction of a kitchen, which will cost $4,000, according to Keuning.

Keuning has set the goal of raising enough money in Pagosa to fund the orphanage for a year. "Then in January I can tell them the year is covered by Pagosa Springs!!!" he wrote in an e-mail.

The Children's Foundation has a child sponsor program of $40 per month per child. In order to meet the projected operating budget of $12,500, an additional 200 child sponsors will have to make donations, according to Rosenthal.

Donations can be made by calling Rosenthal at (970) 402-2272 or (888) 934-3733, online at www.childrensfoundationinc.com or by mail at Children's Foundation Inc., PO Box 1443, Loveland, CO 80539.

 

La Plata Electric adjusts 'Time-of-Use' rates for seasonal usage

La Plata Electric Association's board of directors has approved an adjustment to the WattWatcher "Time-of-Use" program for residential customers.

The new "seasonal" on-peak, off-peak periods, designed to help customers conserve energy and save money, will take effect Jan. 1.

"Residential Time-of-Use or TOU rates are one way LPEA co-op members can potentially save money on their electric bill," explained Greg Munro, CEO, noting that in light of the rise in electric rates, LPEA is promoting energy efficiency programs to help its customers.

"TOU involves separate on-peak and off-peak rates to help balance the electric load - thus, 'time of use.' Our records show that TOU customers save between five percent and fifty percent over the standard residential rate - a bonus in this day of rising energy costs."

LPEA's wholesale power supplier, Tri-State Generation & Transmission, charges LPEA less for purchasing electricity in off-peak hours. LPEA then passes that savings on to customers who have signed up for the WattWatcher program. The electricity used during the off-peak period is, therefore, billed at a considerably lower rate than the regular residential rate.

According to Munro, some 4,000 LPEA customers in Archuleta and La Plata counties are participating in the program, and the more who sign up to participate benefit the entire electric distribution system through less stress and demand on generation.

LPEA spokesmen are confident the revised seasonal time-of-use program will be an improvement over the existing one, which maintained the same rates throughout the year. As an example, the revised program will now offer:

- A two-hour expanded off-peak afternoon window during the winter.

- Evening off-peak beginning an hour earlier during the winter.

- Off-peak all day Saturday and Sunday during the summer.

- A three-hour expanded morning off-peak window during the summer.

To take full advantage of the program, customers are urged to use those appliances that draw the most power - such the dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer or self-cleaning oven - during the off-peak hours. To maximize benefits, customers can also install timers on their water heaters or electric thermal storage units.

"WattWatcher customers regularly report that merely putting their room heaters and water heaters on timers and not being too careful about anything else still saves them money over the regular residential electricity rates," said Munro.

Should LPEA customers be dissatisfied with the new schedule during this first year of operation (2007) and wish to be removed from the WattWatcher program, LPEA will waive the meter change-out fee.

LPEA is also reinstating its guarantee for 2007 that TOU customers will be charged no more than the standard residential rate. Those calculations appear on the monthly statements, as they have in the past, and TOU customers will be assessed the lower amount.

For further information, TOU customers or those interested in signing up for the cost-cutting program are encouraged to call 247-5786.

The new off-peak periods, effective Jan. 1, 2007:

- Winter (Sept. 15-May 14) daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. All day Thanksgiving and Christmas.

- Summer (May 15-Sept. 14) Monday-Friday 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. All day Saturday and Sunday.

 

County staff works on Cloman park plan

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

Disc golf and motocross and tennis courts, oh my!

According to three conceptual plans unveiled by Archuleta County, area residents may soon be enjoying this and much more at a 120-acre regional county park planned at the end of Cloman Boulevard near Stevens Field.

According to Archuleta County Special Projects Manager Sheila Berger, the three conceptual plans were distilled from citizen input gathered at a regional park public work session held in early November. And since then, staff from the landscape architecture firm Winston Associates have been at work brainstorming designs for the facility.

Although the amenities depicted in the three conceptual plans differ, they share a number of common elements: an 18-hole Frisbee golf course, at least three adult softball fields (one plan includes four), one little league baseball field, two full size soccer fields, a pond and trails.

Where the plans diverge is in the inclusion of sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, an ice arena, amphitheater, a climbing and bouldering area, and 15 acres devoted to motocross.

Conceptual design "C" appears the most ambitious of the group, with an 18-hole Frisbee golf course, three adult softball fields, one little league ball field, an amphitheater, two multi-use fields, a sand volleyball court, tennis courts, skate park, 15-acres for motocross, a pond and a trails network.

Berger noted planning for the facility has just barely begun, and county documents indicate the spectrum of amenities is yet to be determined and will ultimately depend on funding.

Fortunately, funding for the land itself will come from state Conservation Trust Fund money and through the Recreation and Public Purposes Act, and at little or no cost to taxpayers.

Cindy Schultz, associate planner for Archuleta County said after the county's procurement of the property, installation of various amenities would occur in phases.

The property is owned by the Bureau of Land Management, and as a prerequisite for acquisition, the county must submit a conceptual plan, before the property is transferred to the county. Therefore, over the coming weeks, Winston Associates will complete a draft design from the three conceptual plans and will submit the draft to the board of county commissioners for review in January.

To learn more about the project, to view the conceptual plans and to stay abreast of the project's most recent developments, visit archuletacounty.org. Once at the county's home page, go to "Quick Links," then "Special Projects," then "Regional County Park."

To submit comments or suggestions, contact Schultz at 731-3877.

 

New members join Mercy board

Mercy Regional Medical Center's board of directors recently added two members: Sr. Sheila Devereux, RSM, and Richard Risk.

"Sister Devereux and Mr. Risk both possess extensive experience in healthcare leadership and administration, and most importantly, they share our organizational commitment to quality and service," said Joanne M. Spina, Mercy's board chair. "Their skills and experience are a great fit for our community board, and we're delighted to have them join the Mercy team."

Risk is a retired health care executive with extensive health care consulting and hospital management experience. He spent more than 12 years as the chief executive officer of Oak Brook, Ill.-based Advocate Health Care. Advocate is Chicago's largest health care delivery organization with more than 4,600 physicians, 24,000 employees at 10 hospitals and 200 other sites of care. Risk holds a master's degree in health administration from the University of Chicago. He has lived in Mancos since 2003.

Devereux is the director of Mercy Associates for the Omaha Sisters of Mercy Regional Community and a regional coordinator for Mercy Volunteer Corps. She has served as a board member at four other Catholic hospitals located in San Francisco, Calif.; Roseburg, Ore.; Omaha, Neb.; and Denver. Devereux replaces Peg Maloney, Sister of Mercy, whose term expired. Mercy board members serve three-year terms which can be renewed up to two times.

 

PSHS counselor on council executive committee

Mark Thompson, counselor at Pagosa Springs High School, was recently elected as secretary of the executive committee of the Colorado Council on High School/College Relations (CCHS/CR).

The CCHS/CR is a volunteer member organization comprised of colleges and high schools in Colorado that work together to foster and encourage cooperation between collegiate institutions and secondary schools within Colorado; promote ethical standards of conduct; provide assistance in the development and maintenance of a continuous educational guidance program; serve as the collection and dissemination agency for information pertinent to colleges and high schools; promote and encourage research and evaluation of factors involved in the transition of students from high schools to institutions of higher learning; provide an annual forum for college and secondary school personnel to discuss issues and trends; and promote professional relationships.

 

Outdoors

Feds seek comment on draft environmental assessment

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a draft environmental assessment of the definition of "disturb" under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act in the Dec.12 Federal Register, opening a 30 day public comment period.

The Eagle Protection Act and this definition, if approved, will be used to manage the bald eagle if it is removed from the Federal list of threatened and endangered species.

The draft environmental assessment contains as its preferred alternative a definition of disturb similar to what was proposed in February. It has been revised for purposes of clarity. The revised definition reads as follows: "Disturb means to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle to the degree that causes injury or death to an eagle (including chicks or eggs) due to interference with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior, or nest abandonment. Injury would be defined as "a wound or other physical harm, including a loss of biological fitness significant enough to pose a discernible risk to an eagle's survival or productivity."

"The recovery of the bald eagle and possible removal from the Endangered Species List is a great national success story," said H. Dale Hall, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "As we prepare to manage bald eagles under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the modified definition of disturb reemphasizes the management efforts that have proven so successful in recovering eagle populations. If the eagle is delisted, we plan to have a smooth transition in the management and protection under the Eagle Protection Act."

If removed from the list of threatened and endangered species, bald eagles will continue to be protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Both acts protect bald eagles by prohibiting killing, selling or otherwise harming eagles, their nests or eggs.

Last February, the Service proposed a regulation to clarify the term "disturb" under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and opened a public comment period on the proposal. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Service has prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) on the proposed regulation and the proposed definition of "disturb."

The draft EA is open for the public to comment for thirty days, and the comment period on the proposed definition is also re-opened for thirty days. To see the draft EA, visit the Service's bald eagle Web site at http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/BaldEagle.html.

After public comment, the Service will publish the final definition of "disturb" and Bald Eagle Management Guidelines and intends to propose a rulemaking to establish criteria for issuance of a permit to authorize activities that would "take" bald eagles under the Eagle Protection Act.

The Service will consider addressing the existing Endangered Species Act authorizations in that rulemaking, which if finalized may extend comparable authorizations under the Eagle Act.

Comments on the draft environmental assessment on the definition of "disturb" under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act must be received by 30 days after Federal Register publication. Comments should be sent to Chief, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MBSP-4107, Arlington, Virginia 22203. Comments on the draft environmental assessment may also be transmitted electronically at baldeagle_proposedrule@fws.gov.

 

State Wildlife Area seasonal closures in San Luis Valley

The Colorado Division of Wildlife announces annual seasonal closures at several State Wildlife Areas (SWA) in the San Luis Valley area.

One of the important uses of wildlife areas is to provide safe winter havens for a variety of species. Winter is a difficult time for wildlife, especially deer and elk. They need to use all available energy to stay alive. The closures allow wildlife to get through the winter months without being disturbed by human activity.

Numerous closures also are in effect to protect nesting waterfowl and other birds.

Because deer and elk gather during the winter months, they are often easier to see from roadways. Please, observe wildlife from a distance. If animals begin to move that means you are too close. If animals are forced to move needlessly during winter months their energy stores become depleted and their chances for survival decrease.

Following is a list of the closures:

- San Luis Lakes SWA: Feb 15-July 16.

- Hot Creek SWA: Jan 1-April 30.

- La Jara Creek SWA: Jan 1-Thursday before Memorial Day. Closed to all vehicles. Foot travel is allowed.

- Sego Springs SWA: Feb 15- July 15.

- Coller SWA: Jan 1 - April 1 Closed to all vehicles. Foot travel is allowed.

Signs noting the closures are posted at all the areas. If you see someone violating a closure, please call the Monte Vista DOW office at (719)587-6900. When reporting a violation, please include: location, when the violation occurred and descriptions of people and vehicles.

 

Fish and Wildlife Service seeks stewardship grant proposals

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking proposals for conservation projects to benefit imperiled species on private lands through its Private Stewardship Grants Program.

This program provides federal grants on a competitive basis to individuals and groups engaged in voluntary conservation efforts on private lands that help federally listed endangered or threatened species as well as proposed, candidate and other at-risk species.

The Private Stewardship Grant program is just one of a variety of tools available under the Endangered Species Act that help landowners plan and implement projects to conserve species. These grants and cooperative agreements provide incentives to foster citizen participation in the stewardship of our nation's natural resources.

In 2006 the Service awarded 80 grants totaling more than $6.9 million to individuals and groups to undertake conservation projects for endangered, threatened, and other at-risk species on private lands in 35 states.

For example, Audubon of Kansas received a grant of $83,000 last year to work with four ranchers to conserve black-tailed prairie dogs and restore habitat for the endangered black-footed ferret. Trout Unlimited in Lincoln County, Wyo., was awarded $120,000 to return water flows to a portion of Grade Creek which enabled Bonneville cutthroat trout to return to their historic spawning grounds.

Landowners and their partners must submit their proposals to the appropriate Regional Offices of the Service by Feb. 14. For additional information regarding this grant opportunity and how and where to submit proposals, visit the Service's Private Stewardship Grants Web site at: www.fws.gov/endangered/grants/private_stewardship/index.html.

You may also contact: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Branch of State Grants, Endangered Species Program, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, VA 22203 Phone: (703) 358-2061. The Private Stewardship Grants Program is identified in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance as number 15.632.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices, and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American Tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

 

Mounted Rangers announce raffle winners

The Colorado Mounted Rangers Troop F held their raffle drawing at 6 p.m. Dec. 7.

First prize, Cabela's $1,000 gift certificate, went to Gary Litteken. Second prize, Henry rifle, went to Troy Ross. Third prize, Omaha Steaks certificates, went to Gerald Wheeler.

 

High Country Reflections

The birds of winter

By Chuck McGuire

SUN Columnist

By dawn, the snowfall had diminished to flurries, but after nearly 24 hours of an intense winter storm, more than a foot enveloped the land. In the yard, and the broader forest beyond, virtually every conifer bough sagged under the weight of heavy snow. Branches among the smaller junipers and oaks bore a similar burden, as the lower shrubs, grasses and forbs lay hidden beneath considerable drifts formed by the wind. With the entire mountain landscape awash in white, it was time to feed the birds of winter.

Throughout the year, smaller passerine, or perching, birds depend on a daily diet of insects, seeds or berries in maintaining energy and ideal body temperature. However, over the winter months, as temperatures plummet and heavy snows accumulate, food sources are reduced or obscured, and our feathered friends become more vulnerable to bitter cold nights. Therefore, with the arrival of the first big snow in December, Jackie and I put out wild seed and suet feeders to help see at least some of them through.

Of course, many different feeders (and feed) are available to those who enjoy attracting birds to the yard, and most are found at local hardware and variety stores. Choosing one is fairly simple, depending on budget and extenuating circumstances, but quality should also be a consideration, especially when selecting food. Generally, a good seed mix will suffice, and if squirrels are about, a squirrel-proof feeder will be effective, while proving more economical. Suet feeders are fairly basic, yet offer insect eaters a practical alternative when bugs are hard to come by.

In recent years, we've hung a single seed feeder from a juniper branch outside the kitchen windows, and a separate suet feeder from a pine within view of the living room. The seed feeder presents several alternate "feeding stations," and its top lifts off to allow refilling. Suspended by a rope draped over the branch, the feeder is quickly lowered for easy access. The suet feeder, meanwhile, hangs by a short hook and chain, and seldom requires maintenance or restocking.

With last week's storm winding down, the night slowly took its leave, as a leaden sky above seemed reluctant in its surrender to the gathering light of day. In a pastel world of lingering shadows amid shades of gray, white and forest green, the crisp morning air fell silent and serene. Peering from my window, I could see no tracks in the road or amid the drifts, no outward signs of any movement by animals or man. For the moment, at least, all appeared still.

Talk of hanging the feeders had intensified in the days before the storm, but as Jackie and I stepped out to clear the drive that morning, we quickly recognized the unmistakable song of a black-capped chickadee, as it caroled somewhere in the upper branches of a nearby ponderosa. At once, we pondered the impending chore, then promptly added it to the day's list.

Given our particular approach, hanging feeders in snowy conditions typically takes two — one to hold the slippery aluminum ladder, and the other to position the feeders on the proper limbs. Certainly, we've given thought to hanging them earlier in the season, long before the December snows, but here in the southern Rockies, adult male black bears commonly den late, feeding voraciously to the end.

Once the feeders are in place, two or three days may elapse before a variety of birds ultimately discovers them. And, if mild weather persists, it may take another storm to move them from exposed natural forage to neighborhood feeders.

More often than not though, as birds do arrive, a band of dark-eyed juncos (of the gray-headed race) will be the first to show. Fiercely competitive, these little gray and rust-colored, sparrow-sized birds have white outer tail feathers that appear to "flash" in flight. With remarkable speed and agility, they'll often take turns chasing each other from the feeders to the ground, or to the higher branches of surrounding trees. These lively little birds are ground dwellers, feeding primarily on seeds and small fruits. Their soft singing comes forth in a series of loose musical trills, usually of the same pitch.

Not long after the juncos have arrived, a mix of slightly smaller mountain and black-capped chickadees will follow. With brilliant black and white markings and an incredible metabolic rate, they seem constantly excited, as their acrobatic feeding frenzies keep them darting back and forth from the feeders to various perches on the ground or in the branches above. Chickadees prefer a diet of insects, but will readily eat an assortment of seeds, and are common inhabitants of the feeders. Whenever I am in the forest or yard, particularly over the quiet winter months, the distinctive chick-a-dee-dee-dee is a regular and familiar song filling the air.

Three distinct nuthatches are among the smallest and most amusing birds drawn to the feeders, and in many cases, the suet feeder attracts them first. All feed on bark and twig insects, seeds, stored nuts and hibernating insect larva. They've been known to hoard excess food, sometimes transporting seed from one tree to another, then hiding it in the cracks and crevices behind loose bark.

As inquisitive and acrobatic birds, nuthatches creep head first down tree trunks, while pausing from time to time, turning their heads and listening for the telltale activity of subsurface insects. Their voices vary somewhat, but typically include a series of soft nasal notes that can escalate to an excited chatter.

Of the three, white-breasted nuthatches are the largest and most common. Roughly sparrow-sized, they are blue-gray above and white below, with a black crown and nape. Unlike red-breasted and pygmy nuthatches, their faces are entirely white.

Red-breasted nuthatches are the second largest, and most colorful of the three. An inch shorter than their white-breasted cousins, they too, are blue-gray above with a black crown, but a prominent white stripe runs from the neck through each eye. Of course, their rust-colored bellies give them their name.

Tiny pygmy nuthatches have appeared infrequently, but we've seen them near the feeders on occasion, crawling over branches and pine needles, often upside down. With similar, though less dramatic, markings to their larger white-breasted relatives, their gray-brown cap terminates with a black line through each eye. A faint white spot is visible on the nape. On average, pygmies are two inches shorter than the white-breasted birds.

Now and then, a small flock of pine siskins will visit the feeders. Again, the size of a sparrow, these grayish-brown birds are heavily striped, with vivid yellow wing markings, short conical beaks and deeply notched tails. Constantly flittering about, they appear nervous in their acrobatic pursuit of seeds, and will often hang upside down while feeding. Their wheezy trills and warbles are reminiscent of related goldfinches, but coarser.

Depending on weather and snow conditions, an odd mix of larger birds have dropped by the feeders, though most appear more curious than hungry. Some, like Steller's jays and magpies, are too large to perch on the feeders, but will rest briefly on nearby branches, before moving on. During last winter's mild weather, western bluebirds came to the juniper regularly, but fed entirely on its berries, rather than from the feeder.

Here in the southern Rockies, most winter birds are actually year-round residents capable of sustaining themselves, even during the harshest winter months. Ranges may vary, depending on climatic changes, but compared to seasonal species, or those simply migrating through, they are constant companions in our natural world. And, like most good neighbors, appreciate a helping hand, now and then.

 Letters

Service

Dear Editor:

I want to commend Andy Fautheree, Archuleta County Veterans' Services officer.

Andy is a "veteran" with many years of exceptional service. Service to his country, community and veterans.

I believe he has helped in many other aspects of community life and with individuals. How many of us are aware of the exhaustive hours just spent reading? The government red tape requires extreme diligence - with the continuous tide of changes to rules, guidelines, regulations, laws and the web of "who is eligible" for what?

Andy's work is above and far beyond the call of service. Each of us could ask a very personal question this New Year: "What have we done to help our country, state, county and our civic organizations?" The Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Salvation Army, Mountain Christian Fellowship ... do you know what community service they provide? Our sheriff's office would like your help. They all will be there for you and your families.

Andy has helped me without even knowing me. I not only read his articles, I share them with others outside of our community. The Red Cross was there for my family in a deadly flood December 1963-64. A state police officer saved my brother-in-law and myself from a horrible death in that same flood while we were helping others. Some very special people at The Salvation Army have tried to help my son with drug addiction.

What can we do?

We need to remember to say thank you to all of those who do so much. Have a happy New Year.

W.C. Clifford/Basnett

 Overbearing

Dear Editor:

Pagosa Springs town planning has fallen into an overbearing controlling force that lies to developers, adopts policies from other town planners (Telluride and Aspen) with no ideas of their own.

As a result of this they are chasing one development after another out of town along with valuable jobs.

The flag of North Korea should be put up at Town Hall instead of our American flag that is getting stomped on. I personally know of a WW II veteran that a huge sale was pulled because of their new rule disallowing anything over 50 years to be pulled down and a potential purchaser must submit development plans prior to purchasing the property. He is in his 80s and needed this sale. Tamara Allen has a conflict of interest when writing these policies when she is both the Town Planner and controlling the Historical Committee.

I have been told by Town they are glad I abandoned my dreams on Hot Springs Boulevard and put the property on the market. Yet they are preventing me from selling the property with these new rules that are not realistic or practical. What developer invests in plans prior to buying the property which would just add to their risk in a risky venture already. If Town won't let me develop and yet won't let me sell to another developer then what is next, eminent domain? The flag and all our rights are at risk!

Sean McMullen

St. Augustine, Fla.

Editor's note:

1. Every request for a demolition permit for a structure over 50 years old, made after adoption of the moratorium, has been granted. There is no "rule" prohibiting demolition of structures more than 50 years old that is not susceptible to variance.

2. Recent decisions by the town council do not require submission of plans prior to purchase of a property.

3. Allen does not "control" the Historic Preservation Board. She acts in a staff liaison capacity.

 

Preview Calendar

Dec. 31

New Year's Eve dance

The community center at 451 Hot Springs Blvd. is hosting this end-of-the-year event with John Graves & Company providing a variety of live dance music. The adult party starts at 9 p.m. and runs to 12:12 a.m. Doors open at 8:30. Advance tickets are $20 per person (until 5 p.m. Fri. Dec. 29) and can be purchased at WolfTracks and the community center. Tickets at the door are $25. Hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and beverages and desserts will be provided. A cash bar with beer, wine and champagne will be available. Purchase your ticket now and reserve a table for eight or 10 people. Call 264-4152.

Jan. 4

Outdoor Club

The monthly meeting of the San Juan Outdoor Club will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. This meeting will feature David and Shirley Hunter presenting an exciting activities calendar for 2007, with sign ups. For information, call Fred Reese at 731-0612. Visitors welcome.

Jan. 7

Pagosa Singles

Pagosa Singles (PALS) will meet for "an after New Year's" party at 3 p.m. at Al's home. Please bring an appetizer to share, your own drinks and a wrapped white elephant gift. Call 731-9801 to R.S.V.P. and for directions. All singles 40-plus are welcome to attend.

Jan. 13

Piecemakers

Pagosa Piecemakers general meeting, 10 a.m. at the Community United Methodist Church, located at 434 Lewis Street. January's presentation is on "Value and Color for Quilters," by Ginnie Bartlett and Denny Rose. The workshop following the general meeting on value and color in quilts is $25 per person. Contact Margaret Darling, 731-4580.

 

   Community News

Get dressed to the nines for New Year's Eve dance

By Siri Schuchardt

Special to The PREVIEW

The community center's New Year's Eve Dance will be your big chance to dress to the nines or simply Pagosa Style.

The Pagosa Springs Community Center will be turned into a beautiful multicolored venue with "fireworks" at all the tables and showering over the dance floor. Decorations Chairman Pam Stokes, and her wonderful volunteers, will recreate the fireworks magic for all partygoers and there will be plenty of noisemakers for announcing the New Year in style. The cash bar will feature champagne this year, along with an expanded selection of wine and beer. There will be plenty of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and a selection of desserts including the fabulous petit fours that will be back by popular demand.

The music for the evening will be provided by John Graves and Company, who provided our music last year. This band is a quartet of distinguished musicians, and they will play a wide variety of music. The band includes John Graves, Larry Elginer, Kim Graves, Susanna Ninichuck, and a surprise guest artist or two. All members not only excel as instrumentalists but also as singers and entertainers.

The dance will take place from 9 p.m. to 12:12 a.m. Doors at the center will open at 8:30 , with live music starting promptly at 9. There will be a demonstration by members of the In Step Dance Club at 8:50, and there will also be a demonstration by members of the center's Line Dance Club during one of the band's breaks.

What a wonderful opportunity to have live music, live entertainment, great food and drinks and an evening out with your friends where no one has to clean house or cook.

The dance is $20 per person advance and $25 per person at the door, and includes a variety of hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, desserts, and coffee. Drinks are available at $3 per glass and soft drinks for $1 (can with cup and ice). Tickets are available at WolfTracks and at the community center. Advance tickets must be purchased by Friday, Dec. 29, at the close of business. The community center will be closed Saturday and Sunday in preparation for the big event.

Based on the number of tickets sold last year, there could be a limited number of tickets available at the door, so you are encouraged to purchase tickets by Friday. Complete tables of eight or 10 can be reserved in advance at the community center with presentation of your tickets. Back by popular demand, there will be a singles' table, so let the center staff know if you wish to be seated at that table.

Volunteers will be needed Saturday to help set up. If you would like to help set up the tables and chairs, dance floor and stage at 9 a.m., call Dick Carrai at 731-3083. To help with decorating the room and the tables at 10 a.m., call Pam Stokes at 731-1284. If you have questions or need further information, call Mercy at the center, 264-4152 or Siri at 731-9670.

 

In Step plans parties, schedule for upcoming year

By Deb Aspen

Special to The PREVIEW

The In Step Dance Club has a fun and exciting schedule planned for the new year.

First, there will be more than a dozen dancers from the club performing group and solo dances at the community center's annual New Year's Eve Dance next Sunday night.

Ten different dances have been studied throughout the year, and we are very excited to be able to show the community a representation of some of them. Starting around 8:50 p.m., there will be group demonstrations in swing/jitterbug and cha cha, as well as a solo routine in Argentine tango, just before the band starts playing at 9.

Then, during the second break, several couples will again take the floor to demonstrate the difference between country western two-step and night club two-step, followed by a fox trot solo performance.

Charles Jackson and Deb Aspen will be "stepping up" their practice sessions in Albuquerque in preparation for competition at the Flaming-O-Rama in Miami, the last week of January, coupled with a vacation in Florida.

Therefore, there will be no regular classes in January or February, but the practice schedule for those two months is as follows: no class Thurs. Jan. 4; "check out" and practice Sunday is Jan. 7 from 3-5 p.m.; a special practice session for those performing in the Awards Ball will be held Wed. Jan. 10 from 7-9 p.m.; the Snowflake Awards Banquet and Ball will be held Sat. Jan. 13 from 6-10:30 p.m.

There will be practice sessions scheduled Jan. 18 and Feb. 1, 7, 15 and 22 from 7-9 p.m. Dick and Gerry Potticary have graciously offered to conduct the practices in Charles and Deb's absence, with an "all music/all dance" format. As usual, all sessions meet at the PLPOA Clubhouse, 230 Port Ave. We encourage everyone to go and work on dance skills, and have some fun!

The Snowflake Awards Banquet and Ball scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 13, will be held in honor of all graduating dance students.

We invite friends and family to come and support those who have successfully met the criteria of "checking out" in one or more dances covered since July. There will be certificates given to the graduates, and awards distributed to those who have earned the most merit points during the last six months. All students may use this opportunity to earn even more merit points by performing honor dances and some solo routines as well.

A potluck banquet will begin at 6, with the honor dances and awards ceremony starting around 7. Then - lots of general dancing to a variety of CD music. In Step will provide all the decor and ambience, and beverages, both alcoholic and non.

Cost is $5 per person with all proceeds going towards the dance scholarship program. We would also like to invite anyone interested in finding out what In Step is all about to attend. Starting in 2007, we will be decreasing the age limit to include youngsters, by audition, so this would be a perfect opportunity to bring your family to one of our social events and check us out.

In Step is looking forward to learning several dances in 2007. American Tango will kick off the new season in March; with samba, West Coast swing, salsa, polka, East Coast swing and bolero ensuing. All dances will be for the beginning student, except the two swings, which will start out in the beginning levels then, the next month, proceed into more intermediate patterns. Workshops are slated throughout the dance year: a samba workshop in April, salsa in August, and bolero in December. Stay tuned for more information, or call Deb or Charles with questions.

On behalf of the In Step Dance Club, we wish everyone in the community a very Merry Christmas and a new year filled to the brim with peace in every aspect of your lives, a lot of joy and laughter, good health, and a little dancing! Why not make a new year's resolution, and plan to dance?

 

Computer Fix-It-Free Day set for Jan. 6

Computer on the blink?

The mission of the Computer Fix-It-Free Day is to provide free technical assistance to members of the community who would otherwise not be able to afford it.

The event is to benefit those who have a computer by means of hand-me-down or charity that is not functioning correctly. Local computer technicians are donating their time to this event.

Used parts will be provided at no charge for the purpose of repair by The Humane Society and the volunteering computer technicians. If new parts are needed, they will be provided at a discount.

If you would like to donate parts and/or used computers, label the items "Fix-It-Free" and drop them at the Humane Society Thrift Store.

The session will be 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 6 - by appointment only.

Only one computer per household will be repaired. Interested individuals can reserve a one-hour time slot by calling 731-6373.

 

Durango percussion ensemble, Woodwork, in concert

By Paul Roberts

Special to The PREVIEW

Elation Center for the Arts presents a unique concert featuring the wonderful sounds of marimbas and xylophones by The Woodwork Percussion Ensemble, 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse.

Woodwork is the brainchild of Dr. John Pennington, professor of music at Fort Lewis College and artistic director of the Animas Music Festival. Pennington performs in the ensemble with five music performance majors at the college: Kevin Martin, Michael Pratt, Sean Statser, Chance Harrison and Grayson Andrews.

Along with the ensemble's incredible collection of marimbas and xylophones, it also performs on glockenspiel, vibraphone, croatales and a wooden box called a cajon, playing a wide range of music including classical, jazz and ragtime from the late 1920s and '30s, and music from various other cultural traditions.

Pennington is an orchestral percussionist who performs all over the world. Locally, he performs with Music in the Mountains, the San Juan Symphony and The Woodwork Percussion Ensemble. Woodwork is the fulfillment of his dream to perform and record with his most advanced students.

The ensemble has performed dozens of concerts in schools, festivals and concerts.

Advance discount tickets, for $12, are available through elationarts.org and at WolfTracks. Tickets at the door are $15 for adults. Children with parents, $5.

Desserts and coffee will be provided at intermission. Please bring a dessert to share if you wish.

Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse is located at 230 Port Ave. in the Vista subdivision. Take U.S. 160 to Vista Boulevard, urn north on Vista and left on Port.

ECA offers life enrichment programs focused on preserving our cultural heritage. Proceeds from this concert help support these programs. ECA's community concerts have been upgraded with professional sound, stage and lighting.

For more information, log on to elationarts.org or call 731-3117.

 

'Hold It!' contemporary containers at Shy Rabbit

By Denise Coffee

Special to The PREVIEW

"Hold It!", an exhibition of contemporary containers, continues at Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts through the holidays with regular gallery hours.

This elegant and highly creative exhibition features six emerging and mid-career artists from Colorado and New Mexico working in various and, in some cases, unconventional mediums.

Participating artists were asked to think "outside of the box" by creating their own personal interpretations of containers or vessels. A wide range of forms and materials are on display as a result.

A few of the artists invited to participate in "Hold it!" had existing works that fit the show theme. Several others created new work inspired by the show title and the freedom they were allowed in the process.

Artists were provided with three to four months in which to complete new work, and had no restrictions other than a size range and the number of finished works required. The process was a very organic one that resulted in the creation of work that is natural and unforced.

The six featured artists are: Chad Haspels, Colo., wood; Sarah Hewitt, N.M., fiber; Clarissa Hudson, Colo., fiber; Mary Ellen Long, Colo., mixed media; Chris Richter, N.M., ceramics; and Shan Wells, Colo., mixed media.

Shy Rabbit will remain open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. through show closing on Jan. 20. Private viewings are also available. Please call 731-2766 to schedule an appointment.

Visit http://shyrabbit.blogspot.com or e-mail shyrabbit01@aol.com. for more information on Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts shows, events and programs.

Shy Rabbit is located at 333 Bastille Drive, B-1 through B-4, one block north of U.S. 160 ,off of North Pagosa Boulevard.

 

Chuck Bob at the Movies

Chuck Bob's fave five for 2006

By Charles Streetman

PREVIEW Columnist

Compared to 2005, a year that produced a number of great movies, 2006 was a serious disappointment in film.

There were a lot of movies this year that held tremendous potential, but were wasted by Hollywood's great lack of genuine creativity. Yet, despite Hollywood's rehash of tiresome clichés, I still managed to find a few new favorites from this year. And this week I'll take a look back at my top five favorites of 2006.

5. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

An improved sequel of greater entertainment, "Dead Man's Chest" surpassed my expectations and proved superior to its predecessor.

Other critics were much colder, but American audiences spoke for themselves, earning "Dead Man's Chest" a whopping $423 million at the box office! This not only makes it the highest grossing film of 2006, but also Disney's most financially successful film ever, and the sixth highest grossing movie of all time - dominating both Spider-Man films, "The Return of the King," and knocking "The Passion of the Christ" out of the top 10!

4. "Clerks II."

Yet another accomplished sequel from this summer - writer/director Kevin Smith's "Clerks II" continued the story of now famed Jersey slackers, Dante and Randall.

Rather than being simply another movie that shined on a typical day in their lives, riddled with disgruntled customers and crude, yet oddly fascinating discussions on sex, pop culture, and personal experiences, Smith took this sequel a step further and gave fans a closure on his characters' lives. The end result is an unexpectedly smart and sentimental mid-life coming-of-age film.

Of course, the film was not without Smith's signature characters, Jay and Silent Bob, who are surprisingly mild compared to their past appearances in Smith's other films. This doesn't mean the film is short on crude humor; not by a long shot. Though it has never been what appealed to me in Smith's movies, his crass dialogue is remarkably well-written. "Clerks II" was an ideal conclusion to the lives of Dante and Randall and certainly a worthwhile sequel for any fan of Kevin Smith.

3. "Night Watch."

Vampires and shapeshifters and cursed virgins, oh my!

You can take a look at this first installment in a soon-to-be Russian film trilogy and conclude that it doesn't make sense.

It does to me.

Mistaken for a simple horror film, "Night Watch" is actually a dark, modern fantasy. Centuries ago, two warring forces of good and evil devised a shaky truce to cease the bloodshed. And now, in present day Moscow, both forces govern one another, to ensure neither side meddles with the affairs of mortals. "Night Watch" had a few problems, such as a fast-paced beginning and a number of key characters introduced in less than two hours. What I liked most about it was the depth of the story and its blurring of the line between good and evil - good can do wrong and evil can do right, and vice versa. Even more intriguing, when beings with supernatural powers are newly discovered by the two forces, they are given the choice of serving either side. Of course, it also helps that "Night Watch" had some pretty stylish effects and camera techniques, making it one cool looking movie!

2. "V for Vendetta."

The Watchowski Brothers have definitely bounced back from "The Matrix: Revolutions" with "Vendetta."

Their uncompromising vision of a nation oppressed by a wicked, fascist government hit pretty close to home on what the near future could very well be for any of us. The film pulled no punches, tackling controversial subjects that reflect events very similar to what we've experienced in the past six years, but did it entertainingly.

One of the best elements of the film is that it didn't resort to unnecessary action and focused mainly on the freedom-fighter, V, as he exudes powerful influence on the oppressed citizens of Britain, inspiring rebellion and the courage to overthrow their oppressors. Though his intentions are to overthrow the High Chancellor and his minions, bringing freedom to the people of Britain, V's methods and actions soon reflect those of the very people he fights against. This becomes obvious in his relationship with the leading heroine, Evey.

1. "The Departed."

Martin Scorsese delivered the thrills I had been waiting for all year with "The Departed!"

From beginning to end I was hooked and riveted by this intense crime thriller. In a tightly scripted and outstandingly acted production, Marty depicts the bloody and merciless war between Boston's Finest and an Irish crime lord with great skill and mastery.

And it appears the Hollywood Foreign Press Association felt the same way as I did about the film. The HFPA nominated "The Departed" for six Golden Globe awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio and Best Supporting Actor for both Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg! It is the second-most nominated film at this year's show, surpassed only by the new drama, "Babel," which earned seven nominations. Scorsese won a Globe previously for his 2002 film, "Gangs of New York."

The Globes are only the beginning. Could this finally be the year when Marty finally takes home his long deserved Oscar? Only time will tell!

 

Community Center News

Ideas for programs in 2007? Call the community center

By Mercy Korsgren

PREVIEW Columnist

All the snow that fell made Christmas really very special - a white Christmas. It is a wonderful holiday season and I hope everyone had a good time.

For a change, the center is quiet and business is slow, giving the staff some time to relax a little bit while planning for next year's programs and special events.

New Year's Eve dance

Trying to find what to do to celebrate the new year? Come to this dance.

It is guaranteed you'll have fun. John Graves and Company (Larry Elginer, Susanna Ninichuck and John's son, Kim Graves) will provide a wide variety of live music. The line dancing group is surely going to entertain all with their new steps.

Don't wait: buy your advance tickets today, or tomorrow by 5 p.m., and save. They are available at WolfTracks and at the community center at $20 per person or at the door for $25 each.

The date of the dance, of course, is Dec. 31 - from 9 p.m. to 12:12 a.m. Doors will open at 8:30.

Special hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, dessert and beverages will be served. A cash bar with beer, wine and champagne will also be available. And several awesome door prizes will be distributed to lucky winners. This event promises to provide lots of fun dancing, laughter, camaraderie and good food.

Purchase your tickets now and call the center, 264-4152 to reserve your table for eight to 10 people. Only those groups of eight to 10 ,with purchased tickets, can reserve tables. By popular request, we will also provide singles' tables. Call to be seated at the singles' table.

Line dancing

According to our awesome teacher, Gerry Potticary, couples will meet at 9 a.m. starting Monday, Jan. 15. She will teach two-step and waltz.

Beginning line dance for all others is at 10 a.m. Intermediate and advanced follows at 10:30. The group is getting bigger and it is wonderful to see more husbands participating. This is a free program made possible by Gerry's talents and volunteer hours.

Yoga

Yes, yoga is in motion even on snowy days.

Addie and three others came last week, even with the snow storm. These ladies are dedicated to meet every week. One lady said, "I need it, especially at this time of the year-with all the hassle and stress of the holiday."

This group meets every Tuesday, 10-11:30 a.m. Addie Greer leads this activity until Diana Baird comes back from vacation.

Weight Watchers

The group meets here at the center every Wednesday, 4:45-6:45 p.m.

After the holidays all will agree that we need to get back on track with good, healthy eating as well as lots of exercise. Come join this group.

San Juan Outdoor Club

Getting bored indoors? Join this active, fun group which meets at the center every first Thursday of the month.

Leo Milner, activities chairperson, does a superb job lining up different winter outdoor activities for all. The club just elected their new set of officers for 2007 with Bob Arrington the new president. Come join the club and have fun. The first meeting for the new year is 6:30 p.m. Jan. 4.

Open gym

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, 8-9 a.m., the Hoopsters meet for an hour of "exercise basketball." For now, it's an all-guy activity - running after and shooting the ball. It's a fun way to exercise and Larry Page, who leads the group, invites all to join. This is open to all, including those who go to work. Remember, the center has shower and locker facilities that anyone may use. So, there should be no excuses.

Another open gym schedule is held noon-1:15 p.m. every Friday. Dan Aupperle is the contact person for this activity. Call Dan at the downtown Citizens Bank if you're interested in this fun game.

Volunteers' dinner

Yes, Michelle and I are finalizing the plans for this great activity, to thank and honor all those who volunteered and helped at the community center this year. We could have not provided all our programs and events without their valuable time and talents. Watch for details next week.

New programs in 2007

It looks like we will have jewelry making and quilting classes start in January. Thanks to Jody Conwell and Treva Wheeless, our new volunteers, for their willingness to share their talents and time.

An invitation is extended to all who have talents and experience, and want to start new programs. I am looking for volunteers to offer activities this winter such as a Coffee Morning, with the opportunity to play board games, cooking classes, book discussion groups, English and Spanish conversation groups, to name a few. Call me at 264-4152.

Center hours

The community center's winter hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10-4 Saturday The center will be closed Saturday, Dec. 30

Activities this week

Today - Hoopsters Basketball for Exercise, 8-9 a.m.; Teen Center open, 3:30-6:30 p.m.

Dec. 29 - Senior Walk, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; open basketball, noon-1:15 p.m.; Bridge-4-Fun, 12:30-4 p.m.; Teen Center open, 3:30-6:30 p.m.; last day to purchase New Year's Eve dance tickets, by 5 p.m.

Dec. 30 - Center closed.

Dec. 31 - Grace Evangelical Free Church service, 10 a.m.-noon; Church of Christ service, 10 a.m.-noon; High Roads Baptist Church service, 6-8 p.m.; New Year's Eve dance, 8:30 p.m.-12:12 a.m.

Jan. 1 - Center closed. Happy New Year to all!

Jan. 2 - Hoopsters Basketball for Exercise, 8-9 a.m.; yoga, 10-11:30 a.m.; Senior Walk, 11:15-11:35 a.m.; Teen Center open, 3:30-6:30 p.m.;

Jan. 3 - Aikido class, 1-3 p.m.; Teen Center open; 3;30-6:30 p.m.; Weight Watchers meeting, 4:45-6:45 p.m.

Jan. 4 - Hoopsters Basketball for Exercise, 8-9 a.m.; Teen Center open, 3:30-6:30 p.m.; San Juan Outdoor Club meeting, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

 

Senior News

Good health rests on a good night's sleep

By Jeni Wiskofske

SUN Columnist

There is nothing like a good night's sleep.

When you wake up rested, you are ready to take on the day! However, if you are among the 15 percent of Americans who suffer from insomnia serious enough to require medical attention - the outlook is not so perky.

Your body needs enough rest to work right. In fact, getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health, along with eating right and getting enough exercise.

Changes to our sleep patterns are a part of the normal aging process. As we age we tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep - which is a problem because research shows that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood and that it is a misconception to think that sleep needs decline as we get older.

Did you know:

- Older women are more likely to experience insomnia than older men.

- More than 50 percent of people older than 64 have some form of sleep condition.

- Reducing sleep by as little as 1-1/2 hours for just one night reduces daytime alertness by a third.

- Excessive daytime sleepiness impairs memory and ability to think and process information.

- Long-term sleep deprivation increases risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

So what is keeping us awake? A number of factors acting alone or in conjunction will often influence our sleep experience.

Physiological factors:

- Changes in the patterns of our sleep (as we age we tend to spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep vs. deep sleep).

- Changes in internal rhythm cycles that coordinate the timing of our bodily functions.

- Increase in the number of times we wake up at night related to various factors such as sleep apnea (the more this happens, the less sleep time we accumulate).

- Chronic pain brought on by health conditions such as arthritis, heartburn or heart disease.

- Restless legs or muscle spasms.

- Snoring.

Psychological factors:

- Depression.

- Stress.

Environmental/ personal factors:

- Social or recreational drug use - caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.

- Environmental noise - television, radio, snoring, street noise, etc.

- Poor bed/mattress condition.

- Poor scheduling - eating and/or exercising too late, napping too long/often during day.

If you are having occasional difficulty sleeping or are suffering from insomnia, there is a lot you can do to get a better night's sleep, feel refreshed when you awake and remain alert throughout the day.

- Avoid watching TV, eating and discussing emotional issues in bed.

- Minimize noise, light and temperature extremes in the bedroom.

- Try not to drink fluids after 8 p.m.

- Avoid naps or take short ones (no more than 25 minutes).

- Don't smoke near bedtime.

- Don't drink caffeine at least four hours before bedtime.

- Avoid eating, exercising and alcohol before bedtime.

- Do you sleep with a pet? If you have pet allergies this could interfere with a good night's rest or maybe your pet's movements wake you up. If this is the case, consider getting your pet its own sleeping space.

- Lose weight and exercise regularly to decrease snoring, sleep apnea and other chronic conditions that affect sleep.

- Don't ignore depression - seek help from family, friends or a professional.

- Reduce stress by practicing meditation or performing relaxation exercises before bedtime. Look into aromatherapy, music or yoga and how these things can help.

- If despite your efforts nothing seems to work, talk to your doctor about other options you might consider.

Don't deprive yourself of the sleep you need. Remember, everything seems a little better after a good night's rest!

Needs assessment survey

The Silver Foxes Den is currently conducting a survey regarding the over 60 population.

The Den has mailed out 1,000 random surveys to Archuleta County residents over 60 years of age. If you receive one of these surveys, your participation in completing the survey is extremely valuable to the future needs of your age group. Please take the few minutes needed to complete the survey and help identify your needs in our community. If you need assistance or have any questions, call The Den at 264-2167. Your time and help is greatly appreciated.

Luncheon at JJ's

The Den will visit JJ's for lunch at noon today to celebrate the closing of the year 2006. The cost is $10 per person for a fabulous lunch including dessert. Carpooling will be our mode of transportation. (Reservations were needed for this luncheon outing.)

Birthday celebrations

If you are age 60 or older and your birthday is in December, come on down to The Den on Friday, Dec. 29, for lunch and celebrate your birthday. Seniors, Inc. has graciously agreed to pay for a portion of your birthday meal, so it will only cost $1 for a great lunch and lots of fun. Remember to let us know it is your birthday when you check in at the desk.

New Year's Eve party

The end of 2006 is upon us and it's time to parrrrty! On Friday, Dec. 29, The Den is celebrating all of the memories of 2006 with New Year's Eve festivities. Join us for a New Year's feast with friends for our final lunch together in 2006.

Closed for the holiday

The Den will be closed Monday, Jan. 1, for New Year's Day. Happy holiday from The Den to you and your family.

Seniors Inc. memberships

Beginning Jan. 2, Seniors Inc. memberships for folks 55 and older will be sold at The Den.

The 2007 memberships can be purchased for $5 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Memberships will not be sold Thursdays.

Your Seniors Inc. membership entitles you to a variety of discounts from participating merchants. For qualifying members, it provides scholarships to assist with the costs for eyeglasses, hearing aids, dental expenses, and prescription and medical equipment. Your Seniors Inc. membership will also cover $20 of the $30 transportation fee for medical shuttles to Durango. The Den's Monthly Mystery trips to fascinating destinations are sponsored by Seniors Inc., so these cool trips in the warmer months are open to all members.

As you can see, the benefits of a Seniors Inc. membership are numerous, so stop in at The Den during the scheduled hours to renew or purchase your first annual membership. Remember, you do not need to be a Seniors Inc. member to join us at The Den. Everyone is welcome to be a part of our extended family!

Cowboy poetry

Cowboy poetry is as old as cowboys themselves! For lack of better things to do after a hard day on the range, cowboys of the Old West would sit around the camp fire at night and entertain one another with poems, tall tales or just plain good ol' stories!

Join Bill Downey at The Den for some old-fashioned cowboy poetry Wednesday, Jan. 3, 12:45 p.m. Bill has been writing cowboy poetry since the early '90s and offering programs for about six years. He enjoys horseback riding trips into the backcountry and his poetry reflects the lifestyles and values of cowboys, along with life in the outdoors.

Nails with Dru

Do you want to feel pampered? Or, how about some fun conversation while doing something nice for yourself? Dru Sewell has offered to do your nails free of charge at The Den Wednesdays from 9:30 to 11 a.m. You can make an appointment or drop in for your nail treatment. Dru will trim, file and paint your nails while entertaining you with her bubbly personality!

Dance For Health

Dance For Health classes will be available at The Den Wednesdays at 10 a.m. free of charge.

Karma Raley, the dance instructor, enjoys sharing her love of dance and blends basic ballet, modern jazz, and jazz dance with yoga awareness to create a full body routine which makes it possible to work out to the degree you want and/or need to. Wear loose comfortable clothing and bring a mat or towel. Join us at The Den and learn great dance techniques while having a fun time exercising!

Aikido classes

Aikido is a relatively modern martial art, although its roots go back nearly a thousand years to secret techniques of samurai warriors. In January, The Den will offer Aikido classes every Wednesday at 1 p.m. with instructors Bill Trimarco and Lisa Jensen. Aikido students will learn how to redirect an attacker's energy with hand techniques, and train with the wooden sword and short staff. Aikido is beneficial for health, coordination, stress relief and character with the goal of bettering oneself rather than trying to be better than an opponent. Sign up with The Den if you would like to participate in the January classes.

"Tuesdays At Four"

John Graves and Friends is a small jazz ensemble. The Professor, on piano, (Graves) is joined by bassist Dan Fitzpatrick, drummer Gerry Riggs, and Joe Gilbert on guitar. In their other lives, Dan is a mountain man and builder, Gerry is a retired curator of contemporary art, Joe is a builder and a musician, and John continues to be a distinguished musician.

They have been gathering at The Professor's house for the past several months for informal jam sessions, and thought it would be fun to share their experience with other folks who know some of the vintage songs they enjoy playing. So, The Den is honored to welcome the "Tuesdays at Four" quartet at 12:45 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5, in the dining room for top-notch musical entertainment. Join us to celebrate the beginning of 2007 with some extremely talented musicians and some great music.

Waterpiks are here

The Silver Foxes Den Senior Center has waterpiks at a discounted price of $22 each. Remember, there are limited supplies of these at this great price, so don't delay.

Add a little curry

A diet containing curry may help protect the aging brain, according a study of elderly Asians in whom increased curry consumption was associated with better cognitive performance on standard tests. Curcumin, found in the curry spice turmeric, possesses potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

It's known that long-term users of anti-inflammatory drugs have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, although these agents can have harmful effects in the stomach, liver and kidney, limiting their use in the elderly.

Antioxidants, such as vitamin E, have been shown to protect neurons in lab experiments but have had limited success in alleviating cognitive decline in patients with mild-to-moderate dementia.

After taking into account factors that could impact test results, researchers found that people who consumed curry "occasionally" and "often or very often" had significantly better Mini-Mental State Exam scores than did those who "never or rarely" consumed curry. "Even with the low and moderate levels of curry consumption reported by the respondents, better cognitive performance was observed," researchers reported.

These results, they note, provide "the first epidemiologic evidence supporting a link between curry consumption and cognitive performance that has been suggested by a large volume of earlier experimental evidence."

Curry is used widely by people in India and, interestingly, the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease among India's elderly ranks is fourfold less than that seen in the United States. "In view of its efficacy and remarkably low toxicity," curry shows promise for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease, the researchers conclude.

Source: American Journal of Epidemiology, Nov. 1, 2006.

Activities at a glance

Today - Luncheon at JJ's Upstream Restaurant (reservations required with The Den), noon. The Den is closed.

Friday, Dec. 29 - The Geezers meeting, 9 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; New Year's party, noon; birthday lunch celebrations, noon; Bridge-4-Fun, 12:30 p.m.; duplicate bridge, 12:30 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 1 - Closed for New Year's Day.

Tuesday, Jan. 2 - Yoga, 10:30 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; canasta, 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 3 - Nails with Dru, 9:30-11-a.m.; Dance For Health, 10 a.m.; basic computer class, 10 a.m.; cowboy poetry with Bill Downey, 12:45 p.m.; Aikido class, 1 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 4 - Lunch served in Arboles (reservations required), noon; blood pressure checks in Arboles during lunch. The Den is closed.

Friday, Jan. 5 - The Geezers meeting, 9 a.m.; gym walk, 11:15 a.m.; veterans' services, noon; Bridge-4-Fun, 12:30 p.m.; duplicate bridge, 12:30 p.m.; entertainment by The John Graves Quartet, "Tuesdays at Four," 12:45 p.m.

Menu

Suggested donation $3 for ages 60-plus and kids 12 and under; all others $5.

Salad bar available every day at The Den beginning at 11:30 a.m. Menu subject to change.

Friday, Dec. 29 - (There has been a menu change). Baked ham, yams, green beans, cranberry and dinner roll.

Monday, Jan. 1 - Closed for New Year's Day.

Tuesday, Jan. 2 - Beef stew with vegetables, cilantro black beans, cauliflower, orange wedges and corn bread.

Wednesday, Jan. 3 - Porcupine meatballs, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, diced pears and whole wheat roll.

Thursday, Jan. 4 - Lunch served in Arboles (reservations needed.) Baked ham with raisin sauce, yams, peas with onions, almond peaches and whole wheat roll.

Friday, Jan. 5 - Scalloped potatoes with cheese and ham, vegetable medley, peaches and whole wheat bread.

 

Veteran's Corner

Be aware of Aid and Attendance benefit

By Andy Fautheree

I would like to wish each and every veteran, their families and loved ones, and those currently serving in the military a happy New Year and best wishes for 2007, with the hope that all may soon live in peace throughout the world.

Aid and Attendance benefit

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is reaching out to inform wartime veterans and surviving spouses of deceased wartime veterans about an under-used, special monthly pension benefit called Aid and Attendance.

"Veterans have earned this benefit by their service to our nation," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. "We want to ensure that every veteran or surviving spouse who qualifies has the chance to apply."

Not new

Although this is not a new program, not everyone is aware of his or her potential eligibility. The Aid and Attendance pension benefit may be available to wartime veterans and surviving spouses who have in-home care or who live in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities.

Many elderly veterans and surviving spouses whose incomes are above the congressionally mandated legal limit for a VA pension may still be eligible for the special monthly Aid and Attendance benefit if they have large medical expenses, including nursing home expenses, for which they do not receive reimbursement.

To qualify, claimants must be incapable of self support and in need of regular personal assistance.

Basic criteria

The basic criteria for the Aid and Attendance benefit include the inability to feed oneself, to dress and undress without assistance, or to take care of one's own bodily needs. People who are bedridden or need help to adjust special prosthetic or orthopedic devices may also be eligible, as well as those who have a physical or mental injury or illness that requires regular assistance to protect them from hazards or dangers in their daily environment.

For a wartime veteran or surviving spouse to qualify for this special monthly pension, the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service, one day of which was during a period of war, and be discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

Wartime veterans who entered active duty on or after Sept. 8, 1980, (Oct. 16, 1981, for officers) must have completed at least 24 continuous months of military service or the period for which they were ordered to active duty.

If all requirements are met, VA determines eligibility for the Aid and Attendance benefit by adjusting for unreimbursed medical expenses from the veteran's or surviving spouse's total household income. If the remaining income amount falls below the annual income threshold for the Aid and Attendance benefit, VA pays the difference between the claimant's household income and the Aid and Attendance threshold.

Income threshold

The Aid and Attendance annual income threshold for a veteran without dependents is now $18,234. The threshold increases to $21,615 if a veteran has one dependent, and by $1,866 for each additional dependent.

The annual Aid and Attendance threshold for a surviving spouse alone is $11,715. This threshold increases to $13,976 if there is one dependent child, and by $1,866 for each additional child.

Additional information and assistance in applying for the Aid and Attendance benefit may be obtained by stopping by this office.

Fuel money

Don't forget to stop by my office with "proof of appointment," your fuel and overnight accommodation receipts to VA health care appointments, for expense reimbursement. We are currently reimbursing almost 100 percent of your VA Health Care travel expenses.

Also, help a fellow veteran who may be going in the same direction to the same VA facility and give me a call if you can provide transportation or need transportation. I will keep a calendar of who is going where to coordinate this important program.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 400 South Camino Del Rio, Suite G, (next to Big 5 Sports). Phone number is 247-2214. Albuquerque VAMC phone number is (800) 465-8262.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans' benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at 46 Eaton Drive, Suite 7 (behind City Market). The office number is 731-3837, the fax number is 731-3879, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 to 4, Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.

 

Library News

Books to support your New Year's resolutions

By Carole Howard,

SUN columnist, and the library staff

With many people thinking about New Year's resolutions at this time of the year, we wanted you to be aware of several new books to help you turn your self-improvement goals into reality:

- "The Formula: A Personalized 40-30-30 Weight Loss Program," by Gene and Joyce Daoust, and its follow-up, "Maintaining 40-30-30: Nutrition for a Lifetime," provide menu plans, shopping lists, fitness plans, nutritious recipes and progress charts to help you lose weight and keep it off.

- "Memory Fitness: A Guide for Successful Aging," by professors Gilles O. Einstein and Mark A. McDaniel, is a comprehensive guide for anyone who wants to learn scientific facts about how aging affects memory and what can and cannot be done about it.

- An updated version of "Dealing with People You Can't Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst," by Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner, offers guidance on how to deal with all sorts of annoyances including people on cell phones, e-mail nuisances, bully bosses and whining coworkers.

- "Taking Charge of Anger," by clinical psychologist W. Robert Nay, outlines a step-by-step, practical model for what sets off your anger, what happens when you lose it, and how you can gain control.

- "Human Technology: A Toolkit for Authentic Living," by Ilchi Lee, describes how you can use technology to support your self-education rather than control your life.

Books on CD

Popular mystery writer Scott Turow's latest novel, "Limitations," shows once again why he is one of the world's most popular authors of legal thrillers. It is now available on CD.

Books about sports

Major league baseball hero Jose Canseco has written "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big" about his experiments with steroids and how they changed the game of baseball. For golfers, we have Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly's humorous "Who's Your Caddy?" and Mark Frost's "The Greatest Game Ever Played" about champion competitors Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet.

Best-selling authors' latest novels

Nelson DeMille's "Wild Fire" is based on a rumor, repeated on the Internet, about a terrifying government plan much like that depicted in this work of fiction. Danielle Steel's newest novel is "H.R.H.," about a young European princess who takes her royal responsibilities seriously. "Capital Crimes" is a pair of crime thrillers by Jonathan and Faye Kellerman.

Energy independence for your home

"The Homeowner's Guide to Energy Independence: Alternative Power Sources for the Average American," by Christine Woodside, is a guide to the most viable and affordable alternative energy sources including solar panels, wind generators, hydrogen fuel cells, wood, hydroelectric, geothermal heat pumps and more. It is aimed at those who get their electricity and heat from traditional oil-burning sources but want to cut fuel costs and achieve freedom from fossil fuel dependence.

Focusing on our children

"Creative Play for 2-5s," by child development expert Dr. Dorothy Einon, offers simple ideas and fun activities to help youngsters develop their natural talents in language, music, art, drama, science and numbers. "Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers," by Alissa Quart, describes marketers and their strategies targeting younger and younger minds and wallets, invading teens' private, recreational and educational space.

Special gifts to the library

"Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook" contains hundreds of tips for creating a comfortable and beautiful home and caring for everything it in. This book was purchased by the library with funds donated by the local Mountain View Homemakers Club, whose members also have made a donation for the purchase of children's books. We also received generous donations from Patricia Latham, D.V.M., and the Pagosa Women's Club. We are grateful to you all for your support.

Honoring loved ones

The library has received several generous gifts from people wanting to honor loved ones: from Rice Reavis and James and Carol White in honor of Kate Terry, from Jim and Ione Adams in honor of Robert Wilson, and from Jim and Margaret Wilson in honor of the Ross Brothers and Jean Krauss.

Bounty from the "Giving Tree"

Thanks to your generosity, 280 books were donated to disadvantaged children in Archuleta County this month. This new library initiative started with a very special Christmas tree located in the library. Each ornament on the "Giving Tree" represented a child who wanted to receive a book as a holiday gift. Your donations of a book - or cash towards a book - were added to Christmas packages put together by Operation Helping Hand, bringing both information and entertainment to these deserving children.

Thanks to our donors

For books and materials, this week we thank Betsy Chavez, Mary Jo Hamey, Linda Van Patter and Bill Wetzel.

Happy New Year

The library will be closed for the holiday Jan. 1. As we look toward 2007, we wish for peace in the New Year Š in our hearts, in our homes and in our world.

 

Arts Line

Start the new year with an art class

By Linda Strathdee

PREVIEW Columnist

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council Gallery in Town Park is now on winter hours.

Although the gallery will not be staffed on a regular basis, voice mail and e-mail will be checked regularly, so please leave a message and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Remember, it is not too early to sign up for the January workshops and this can be done over the phone or through the mail.

The Artist Spirit

The Artsline recently introduced this weekly column section, called "The Artist Spirit." It addresses your heartfelt questions about the arts, and is geared to enlighten and inform, be sincere, humorous or just fun.

This is an opportunity to hear what other artists are thinking and feeling and a place to speak out in the art community

If you have any questions for Dear Liz Rae, e-mail psac@centurytel.net attention: The Artist Spirit, or mail your questions to The Artist Spirit, PSAC, PO Box 533, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Your name is not necessary.

Dear Liz Rae:

I am relatively new to Pagosa Springs and have noticed what a creative and talented population lives in the area. My concern is how the young adults (teenagers) will learn to carry on these traditions. It appeared to me that this year's summer art classes offered to young adults seemed very few. I did find more for grade school-aged children which involved arts and crafts. With all the creativity and diversity in the arts, it seems that more young adults should have the opportunity to learn these skills with their age peers in affordable classes. Is there a newsletter or another method to find out what is locally available for this age group? Thanks for the help. Searching

Dear Searching:

I am so glad that you brought this to our attention. Your letter has opened a discussion among the leaders of PSAC. They will be keeping your concern in mind.

Yes, PSAC will sponsor an affordable, two-hour weekly painting class for the young adults this summer. Also, classes are forming for the younger teenagers. Many of the adult classes, such as drawing and crafts, are open to older young adults. Keep watching the Artsline for scheduling.

Why the arts for children, such as singing, dancing, writing, painting, sculpting, etc.? What's the point? Is it to make pretty, to exult pride (the bad kind)? The physical production of a product such as a graceful dance, an awesome sculpture, a flawless overture, these are marvelous things to behold but the far exceeding wonder is the Artist Spirit.

The Artist Spirit is the development of character, beyond laziness, beyond self-imposed limits, beyond comfort, beyond stresses and pressures only released by tears. Those who commit to such an endeavor, commit to discipline that overflows to all areas of life

Can not the strength, freedom of movement, speed and quickness of mind of a dancer be the same ability as a warrior in battle? In the Book of the Ages, David was a skilled musician, yet a fearsome warrior.

The Artist Spirit is not a floozy thing. It is the dissolving of scattered thoughts into a beholdable wonder.

The Artist Spirit is within our children. Passing on the creative traditions to them is absolutely legitimate. We need to encourage and give them opportunity.

Hey, readers, write in and let us know if you have something going on and what we can do in the community for the young adults (teenagers). This might be an opportunity for you who want to share and teach to do so.

Liz Rae

Watercolor club

Watercolor club meets the third Thursday of each month at 10 a.m. in the Arts and Crafts Room at the Pagosa Springs Community Center. Watercolorists of all levels are provided the opportunity to use the room for the day. Attending members contribute $5 for use of the space. Attendees should bring a bag lunch, their supplies, and a willingness to have a fun creative day! New participants are always welcome.

Photography club

Interested photography enthusiasts are welcome to attend their first Pagosa Springs Photography Club meeting at no charge. Any and all are invited to join for $20 annual dues.

For more information, contact club president Sharon Comeaux at 731-4511 (daytime), 731-5328 (evening) or e-mail m_mcomo@yahoo.com.

Start new year with an art class

PSAC has started to develop its 2007 workshop schedule, with the first classes being offered in January. Brighten up your winter by signing up for one of the earliest classes.

- Local artist Randall Davis will hold a one-day drawing workshop, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at the community center. This workshop will focus on drawing the face. The session is appropriate for beginners as well as advanced students. If you have never attended one of Randall's classes, it's wonderful to see what you can produce in a day under his guidance. Everyone leaves with a completed drawing.

Supplies needed for this class include Sketch pad (preferably 11 x 14), assorted drawing pencils, including a 3H or 4H, a No. 2, and a 3B or 4B, eraser, ruler, pencil sharpener. Plan to bring a bag lunch. Cost for the day is $35. Call PSAC to register, 264-5020.

- Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett will teach Beginners I, the Basics of Watercolor Jan. 15-17. This workshop is for individuals who have always wanted to try their hand at watercolor, or who are not ready to take other workshops. It offers a chance to learn to paint with others who are sure they have no talent, or who have struggled to learn on their own with limited success. Cost of this class is $150 for PSAC members and $175 for nonmembers.

- Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett will teach Beginners II, Building Blocks of Watercolor 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 25-27 at the Pagosa Springs Community Center. Cost is $175 for three full days, $150 for PSAC members. Bring your lunch.

This workshop builds on The Basics of Watercolor—Beginners I, and uses everything students learned in those classes. In Beginners II, students continue to work together to make it easy to create independently. They use all the materials from the first class, and just a few more things. Remember, watercolor is magic and fun!

Mornings, there will be lessons and exercises about shapes, composition and design, choosing subjects, further study about value and color, and advanced techniques such as lifting, scraping, masking, glazing, working with sponges, salt, plastic wrap, and waxed paper. Afternoons will be spent painting, using the morning's lessons.

- Pierre Mion will teach his winter watercolor workshop (snow scenes) Jan. 29-31, with an optional fourth day, Thursday, Feb. 1. The group will spend a day prior to classes photographing outdoor subjects - this date yet to be determined. These classes are fun, relaxed and open to all levels, including beginners. Pierre's classes are always great fun.

Pierre is an internationally-known artist and illustrator who worked with Norman Rockwell for 12 years. Cost for this class is $240 for PSAC members, $265 for nonmembers - who will automatically get a one-year membership.

PSAC open house

PSAC will hold an open house Jan. 18 in the South Conference Room at the community center. Mark your calendars now and plan to drop by and learn more about the Arts Council, its mission and goals, and what it hopes to accomplish in 2007 and beyond.

Workshops

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council sponsors and manages workshops in the Arts and Crafts Space at the community center. From the outset, the Arts Council has been a partner and supporter of the center.

We started the Workshops in 2002 and they have grown substantially since that time. Workshops provide those who want to teach a venue to do so and, at the same time, give our residents a place to learn something new whether it is watercolor, acrylic, oil, drawing, photography, or the like. The space also provides a home for the photo club, watercolor club and a meeting location for various other clubs.

If you are interested in teaching a workshop or class, call the gallery in Town Park for a workshop application form (264-5020) or download the form from our Web site, www.pagosa-arts.com. If you are a resident and have ideas and suggestions for a class or workshop we haven't offered, please let us hear from you. The Arts Council's mailing address is: P.O. Box 533, Pagosa Springs, Co., 81147 or e-mail psac@centurytel.net.

To date, all our workshops have been held during the day. Would evenings work better for you? Would you prefer a series of classes? If you would like to see the Arts Council offer workshops in the evenings or as part of a series, call 264-5020 and leave your name and number and we'll touch base with you.

PSAC calendar

All PSAC classes and workshops are held in the Arts and Craft Space at the community center, unless otherwise noted. All exhibits are shown at the PSAC Town Park gallery, unless otherwise noted. For more information contact PSAC at 264-5020

Jan. 13 - One-day drawing workshop with Randall Davis, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., community center.

Jan. 15-17 - Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett workshop: Beginners I-The Basics of Watercolor.

Jan. 18 - Watercolor club, 10 a.m., community center.

Jan. 18 - PSAC open house, community center, 4-7 p.m.

Jan. 22-24 - Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett workshop: Beginners II-Building Blocks of Watercolor.

Jan. 29-31 - Pierre Mion watercolor workshop.

Feb. 12-14 - Soledad Estrada-Leo's Big Little Angelos Workshop.

Feb. 19-21 - Denny Rose and Ginnie Bartlett Workshop: Intermediate I-Using Photos, People and More.

 

Tasting Notes

A champagne primer, in time for a New Year's toast

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

New Year's Eve is just days away, and what better way to welcome in the new year than with a bottle of Champagne. But with holiday shelves full of bubbly beverages from around the globe, making a selection can be a daunting task. A little knowledge however, can de-mystify the process, and perhaps this simple buying guide will help.

First, the word Champagne denotes wines made exclusively in Champagne, one of France's - and the world's - premiere wine making regions. Furthermore, France's strict vinicultural laws prohibit winemakers in other French appellations from using the Champagne moniker. Thus, if the bottle is French and labeled "Champagne," it is the celebrated bubbly produced in the region.

The rest of the winemaking world however, is not bound by France's AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) rules, although winemakers worldwide generally honor Champagne's legendary status and label their wines accordingly. Most commonly, wine buyers will encounter label notations such as "méthode champenoise" to denote sparkling wines made in the Champagne style but not necessarily from Champagne, while other winemaking areas have their own appellation-specific terms.

For example, for those who enjoy bone dry Champagne, a Spanish Cava offers wine drinkers an opportunity to venture off the beaten path while saving their wallets from a severe pummeling - Cava is often about one tenth the price of Champagne.

For those who like their sparklers on the sweeter side, the Italians have hit the mark with two of my favorites - Asti Spumante and Moscato d'Asti. Although both lack the stately pedigree of their western neighbor, both wines are immensely quaffable and will save the buyer a bundle at the liquor store. The Asti Spumante is made with a crisp, tight, vivacious effervescence in true méthode champenoise style, while the Moscato d'Asti is a "frizzante," meaning it is softer and rounder and not quite a full-blown sparkler.

In other parts of France, various appellations make their own variation on the theme, and many offer a "vin mousseux," which is their appellation's version of a sparkler. One of the most noteworthy is Crémant de Bourgogne, a dry sparkling wine hailing from Burgundy and made via méthode champenoise from all the great Burgundy varietals - Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Aligote, and Pinot Blanc. Generally speaking, the Crémant de Bourgogne are bold, dry, and with bracing acidity, making them great food wines. They come in both white and rosé, and like the Italian and Spanish options, Crémant de Bourgogne offers a lower-priced alternative to Champagne.

But, if you must have the real stuff and are prepared to pay top dollar, your options are many. First, the best Champagnes comes from one of four key growing areas within the greater Champagne region. The four areas: Montagne de Reims, Côtes des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne and Aube. All told, there are roughly 270 Champagne-producing villages, and of those 270, just 17 have obtained "Grand Cru" status. "Grand Cru" is the top of the quality tier, with "Premiere Cru" one notch down.

Beyond notations of "Grand" or "Premiere Cru," the other key indication of quality is a vintage designation. Generally, Champagne is a non-vintage designated wine, but in years when winemakers find the grapes and growing conditions exceptional some Champagne houses will create a vintage-designated champagne. The Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin Grande Dame is one examples.

If the bottle in question lacks one of the above indicators, that's not to say the juice inside is of low quality. On the contrary, Champagne is the product of exceptional soil, top quality fruit, and deft winemaking skills that have been passed from winemaker to winemaker since the 17th century. The result of these centuries of focused craftsmanship has led to unsurpassed consistency between bottlings, with each house achieving a distinct, signature style. In short, it's probably difficult to buy bad champagne, and the decision lies largely in the drinker's particular taste.

Here's what to look for on the label to help narrow your choices.

Rosé - made in one of two ways, either by adding a small amount of red still wine to the Champagne, or by macerating the juice with red grape skins. Rosés are typically full flavored and full bodied with a salmon-pink color, but are not necessarily sweet.

Blanc de Noir - French for "White wine from red grapes." Champagnes denoted as Blanc de Noir are made entirely from Pinot Noir and are generally fuller bodied.

Blanc de Blanc - French for "White from white." Blanc de Blancs are made entirely from Chardonnay, and they are generally lighter, fresher, and slightly more delicate than Blanc de Noir.

Crémant - Crémant offers a creamier mouthfeel and about half the effervescence of méthode champenoise.

After varietal indication, a label will also denote how dry or sweet the juice inside the bottle is. Here's the breakdown.

Brut - bone dry to almost dry.

Extra Sec or Extra Dry - scant residual sugar and slightly sweeter than a Brut. Remember "sweet" is a relative term, and Extra Sec Champagne will still come across to many as quite dry.

Sec - medium sweet with between 1.7- and 3.5 residual sugar.

Demi Sec - Sweet.

Doux - Very sweet. Doux and Demi Sec are often considered dessert wines, although for those who like their party quaffers sweet and bubbly, Doux or Demi Sec will hit the mark.

Of true Champagne, Veuve Clicquot's "Yellow Label" is always solid. But for those who don't want to take out a second mortgage to toast in the new year, Gruet's Blanc de Noir is a perennial favorite. At under $13 a bottle it offers everything a champagne lover could ask for - a generous mousse, good acidity, and wonderful bouquet. It does well as stand-alone quaffer, and pairs beautifully with steamed mussels, sea scallops, salmon and a wide array of hors d'oeuvres.

 

Food for Thought

When in doubt, wait till the last minute

By Karl Isberg

I wait until the last minute.

So, what's new?

"You're cooking two dinners this year," Kathy announces. At least that's what I think she says.

"Huh?"

I am seated on a rump-sprung couch, trying with little success to make out the images flickering on the screen of a 1986-vintage Magnavox. The sound is muted. I figure I am watching either Emeril Live, on the Food Network, or a show on The Discovery Channel about rain forest gorillas. Hard to tell.

The sound is off because, lately, I've been having a bit of trouble hearing things clearly and, to do so, I need to crank the volume up to the point where window glass shakes. This tends to draw complaints.

The erosion of my hearing has something to do with getting old, and with having been in the rock and roll business as a young man. The other day, a guy on a radio show was explaining the damage to eardrums done by repeated exposure to high-decibel music. I didn't get the details. Couldn't quite hear him.

"You remember, you're cooking two dinners this week: one on Sunday, one on Monday."

"Huh?"

Did I hear something about Christmas Eve? Christmas Day? Though I'm unsure of the message, I respond in a time-tested, generic way.

"I don't want anything to do with Christmas, you know that. And, if you're saying something about Handel's 'Messiah,' I don't like it. It's pompous."

"I told you several weeks ago you are cooking two dinners. We're having Ivy and Jon over on Christmas Eve. Then we're having them and Jack and Charla, and Charla's mom, Myra, over on Christmas. And, good news: Mikiko and Kahlil are coming, too. And, 'The Messiah' is a wonderful piece of music. It's just that it was commissioned by a king. That's what you dislike, isn't it? Š anyone more important than you."

"Huh?"

"You forgot, didn't you?"

I can make out the word "forgot."

"Well Š I Š ahhŠ well Š not exactly."

"OK, inexactly, you forgot. Didn't you?"

"Huh?"

Kathy begins signing as she speaks - a personalized, and highly creative form of sign language. Between the elaborate hand gestures and a knack I've acquired for reading lips, I can make out what she is saying.

"You Š forgot Š the Š dinners Š on Š Christmas Š Eve Š and Š Christmas ... didn't you?" The gestures she uses for "Christmas Eve" (a tender rendition of mother cradling babe) and for "Christmas" (an incredible imitation of a Christmas tree, including a star at the top) are magnificent. You really should see them.

"More or less. I didn't forget that we were having folks over for dinner, I forgot when."

"And what day is today?

"The last day of Chanukah. It was a miracle, you know. And, I'm sure there's something happening for Kwanzaa today; it's a pretty lively holiday. I'm not really dialed in on Kwanzaa, but I think it lasts 46 days and features plenty of music and food."

"What is the date?"

"Uhhhh Š"

"I checked the refrigerator and freezer. Know what I found?" (I bet you can imagine the gesture for "freezer," can't you?)

"Uhhhh Š"

"I'll tell you what I found: Nothing." (Sad face).

"Well, then, you didn't put any energy into it. There's a half round of Mexican cheese, a couple dishes containing leftovers from last week, a container of that God-awful rice milk you buy, a plastic container half full of low-grade kalamata olives, and a pack of stale corn tortillas. Oh, and some eggs and butter. And a jar of veal demi-glace. And Š"

"You know what I mean, Porky (stomach extended, cheeks puffed, rolling gait). I mean I don't see the fixins' for the dinners. And, unlike you, I do not go by sidereal time, (expansive skyward gesture, followed by unblinking glance at clock). On the calendar most of us use, this is December twenty-second. You're up to bat December twenty-fourth and, as I reckon, you're in trouble. (Furrowed brow). I sure hope you're not going to let me down, (shake head, pout). And, while we're at it, I sure hope you remembered to buy me a gift this year. (Gleeful facial expression, raised eyebrows, hands rubbed together)."

"Uhhh Š"

Seems I do have a bit of a problem on my hands. As in Š I haven't thought about these meals, or done any shopping.

I retreat to the "den" (in reality, a small, barely heated, unfurnished room in the basement). I sit down on one of the wine boxes stacked along the wall and I ponder my options.

Dinner.

Two dinners.

What to make?

I suppose a luau theme is out. And, even if it was acceptable, I don't have any tiki torches.

The Tuscan Pasta Festivo is, no doubt, inappropriate.

A Night in Shanghai will probably have to wait till next summer.

Hmmm. Let's see: winter food, holiday fare. I dredge the bottom of Memory Cove.

Lefse? Lingonberries? Korv?

Swell options, but a lot of work, and its too late to fashion a batch of korv - though I make a mental note that the next time I and my pork pals gather to make a load of various sausages, I will suggest a pound or so of this classic Viking fuel.

I know where the train is headed, and it is a station I do not favor.

Turkey.

Again. So soon after I suffered through a bird at Thanksgiving.

I trudge to the store and I am demolished, by a natural disaster. Namely, a blizzard in Denver. Nary a delivery truck has moved from the Front Range for three days.

I enter the market.

Odd, I think, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of food here.

There are large, empty spaces on shelves. Many of the bins in the produce department are bare.

I traipse to the flesh department and it looks as if the Huns have invaded and ransacked the joint. To cut to the chase: there's one 800-pound turkey left in the store. The beast would take a week to roast and could feed most of the residents of the county. Twice. Hidden in its shadow, however, is a single "fresh" turkey breast. That's all she wrote; I snap up the turkey breast and move on.

To nothing.

The dairy cases are bereft of anything I need. I peer through the glass doors; a dejected store employee is perched on an empty milk crate in the cooler behind the cases. Butter? Cream? Hah!

I slink back to the flesh area and discover two small pork tenderloins with a use/freeze date close enough to Dec. 24 and 25 that, cooked well, they might not kill the diners. I snatch them.

Back in the produce section, I find the store manager, Rusty, arranging six moldy potatoes on a giant, vacant shelf. He is attempting the fabled "Tuber Illusion" - an emergency move taught at Store Managers University. He has a dazed expression on his face as he assures me a truck "might" arrive overnight. He breaks away in midsentence to work his magic with several packs of celery.

That's OK, because I can't really hear what he is saying anyway.

For dinner on Christmas Eve, I luck out. There it is, tucked at the back of the frozen foods display: a hunk o' salmon. On a cedar plank! Wooweee. It's "Wild Caught" and only one edge is gray. That'll please the sign-language princess. She read a book recently that claims farm-raised Atlantic salmon is a major culprit leading to inflammation of key body systems. Kathy is dead-set against swollen body systems.

Back in the produce section, I abscond with the six russets, elbowing a tourist aside in order to snatch the spuds. I locate a pathetic, atrophied white onion.

I'm ready to roll. I have half a quart of cream in the fridge at home and just enough butter to be dangerous. I'll whip up a dish (a small dish) of tattered potatoes dauphinoise.

According to the directions on the package of salmon ("Wild Caught" with cedar plank - a plank which, I assume, is also "Wild Caught") I need to soak said plank so it does not combust and reduce said salmon to a cinder. The whole production must occur on the grill. With my luck, I will run out of propane in the middle of the grilling but, given the nature of the occasion, I'll hope for divine intervention. Kind of like Chanukah - with propane.

For Christmas, again hoping for the presence of a benevolent divine hand and the arrival of several trucks at the market - I will make a roast turkey breast, standard mashed potatoes, balsamic-glazed carrots, green peas and pancetta in cream, a salad of greens (fresher than the brown models now gracing the distant recesses of the store shelves) and a gravy produced with corn starch in a nod to a couple of beloved, gluten intolerant guests.

Wine?

You betcha.

Pinot noir.

The turkey breast is easy. I'll wash the hunk of meat and dry it. I'll rub it on all sides with softened butter and place wads of butter under the skin. Maybe add some minced garlic to the butter. Perhaps a bit of minced, fresh sage. A bit of kosher salt, some freshly ground pepper and down on a bed of coarse chopped carrot, onion and celery the bird part will go. A tad of chicken stock is splashed in the snug, cheap tin roasting pan.

The pan is put into a 350 oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat in the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees. The roasted breast emerges from the oven and rests, covered with foil, for a half hour or so, the internal temp increasing by about 10 degrees.

I think I'll marinate those pork loins overnight in the fridge, in olive oil, oregano, garlic, lemon juice, sage, etc. and grill those puppies, (given that the miracle of the propane occurs) letting them rest alongside the turkey, the juices gathering back at their starting points, the pork primed for a hit of coarse mustard.

When I return from the store, I ask Kathy to make dessert. She nods and indicates with a spot-on imitation of Johnny Appleseed that the item will be an caramel apple tart.

I tell Kathy my plans for the two dinners noting, smugly, that I encountered no problems as a result of my last-minute activities.

"That's great," she says, lifting the corners of her mouth with her fingertips and wagging her head side to side. "And once we're done, we can start to make plans for something special on New Year's Eve."

Huh?

 

Extension Viewpoints

Sensible, workable weight-loss tips

By Bill Nobles

SUN Columnist

Jan. 1 - Office closed.

It's all about you

Weight is a major concern for many Americans Š and there is good reason: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 65 percent of American adults are overweight or obese.

Americans spend over $33 billion each year on weight control products, which seem to have no effect on weight loss. Most people who lose weight in traditional weight loss programs regain all of the lost weight within three to five years. Only 20 percent of all Americans get enough exercise to improve health and maintain healthy weights. As Americans become increasingly overweight, scientists are finding more and more links between obesity and health.

Give it to me straight

What determines if you are overweight or obese?

One of the gold standards is the Body Mass Index or BMI. To determine BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters, squared. This calculation standardizes weight based on height.

These guidelines were developed because of the potential severity of excess weight on overall health. Higher body weight substantially increases your risk or developing high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and several different types of cancer.

Do I have to lose weight?

Just because you may be considered overweight does not mean that weight loss is mandatory.

Weight loss is suggested only for individuals with a BMI in the 25-29 range who have two other weight-related risk factors for illness, or for individuals who are considered obese. Weight-related risk factors include hypertension, high total cholesterol and a family history of obesity-related disease. Overweight individuals with high waist circumferences also are encouraged to lose weight.

Where your fat is distributed plays an important role in determining whether your weight is healthy.

Pear-shaped bodies have more fat in the hips and thighs, while apple-shaped bodies store it in the upper body and abdomen.

Research shows that people with apple-shaped bodies are more at risk for health problems. To determine if you are at risk, measure your waist circumference. You are at disease risk if your waist circumference is greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.

In all cases, weight management means adopting a lifestyle that includes a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity - both key to a healthy, productive, energetic life.

This also is important because it helps you be more confident, energetic and productive. This, in turn, can lead to increased self-esteem, satisfaction and happiness with your life, both at work and at play.

Your healthy weight depends on many things, including genes, physical activity, age and the foods you eat. It is different from anyone else's, even someone who may be the same height. Accepting limitations of your body and body size will help you set realistic goals.

Make small changes

- Develop an eating plan.

This does not mean dieting, but rather managing your lifestyle with the foods you eat. Nor does it mean giving up the great-tasting foods that you love. It does mean developing a sensible, balanced eating plan.

- Add activity to your life.

Regular physical activity is important to good health. Combined with healthy eating, it is a great way to regulate weight because it can help you feel more energetic. It also can reduce your percentage of body fat, which can lower your risk for heart disease even if you are overweight. Physical activity helps improve stress levels, too. Choose activities you enjoy doing. Physical activity can and should be fun!

- Set goals.

The key to managing good health and maintaining a healthy weight throughout your life begins with a positive attitude and realistic goals. Set incremental step-by-step goals. When you achieve one, celebrate your success.

- Enlist support.

Let your friends and family know what you are doing, and ask for their support. Long-term success is more likely with supportive family and friends. They can encourage healthy eating and regular exercise. They may even join you!

- Be realistic.

Make small changes over time. Give yourself a reward when you meet your goals. As you reach your goals, add new, small changes. Realize that not all your goals will be met overnight.

- Be adventurous.

Don't be afraid to try new foods. One may turn out to be your favorite! Try a fruit or vegetable you haven't had before. Make this a monthly goal.

- Be flexible.

Balance what you eat with the physical activity you do over several days. Don't worry about just one meal or one day. It's all about being balanced. Eat a lighter breakfast and lunch to allow for "pizza with the works" for dinner.

- Be sensible.

Enjoy all foods, just don't overdo it. You can enjoy a balanced menu with many great-tasting foods - in the correct amounts. Slow down! It takes 20 minutes for your brain to send the signal that you've had enough to eat. Enjoy your steak twice as much.

- Be active.

Walk the dog, don't just watch the dog walk. Get out there and have some fun! Set your goal at 30 minutes of moderate activity most days. In 10-minute increments, it's easy. Take a brisk 10-minute walk on your lunch break. You'll feel good and have more energy, too!

Choose a lifestyle

Good health and weight management include a lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Remember, the best way to achieve a healthy weight is to eat a healthy diet that is low in fat, includes all food groups, and has plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Enjoy at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day to achieve or maintain good health.

Follow these simple guidelines to put you on the road to a healthy lifestyle and a healthier you.

 

Pagosa Lakes News

Winter is beautiful, if you're in a warm house

By Ming Steen

SUN Columnist

Here comes the sun.

Last Thursday, Dec. 21, we had our winter solstice. Each year, on Dec. 21 or 22, the sun dips to its southernmost point in relation to the Earth. On that December day, the Northern Hemisphere sees its winter solstice (the shortest day of the year), while the Southern Hemisphere sees its summer solstice (the longest day of the year).

For at least 5,000 years, humans have saluted the sun on the winter solstice. In ancient sun-worshipping cultures, the victory of light over darkness might have been the most important celebration of the year.

The ancient Romans dubbed this time of the year the "sol-stice," roughly meaning "sun standing still." And, being Romans, they considered it an excellent excuse to have a wild party. They held a week-long festival called the "Saturnalia," in honor of Saturn, the god of seed and sowing.

Long after the Romans held their solstice celebration, I, likewise observe my own private elation at this passage of the sun. I look forward to growing daylight hours and all the increasing options for outdoor activities.

For me personally, winter is most beautiful if I'm out in it. Looking at the snow through a window and from inside of a warm house leaves me feeling terribly cold, removed and downright miserable.

On Dec. 14, there was a picture in this publication of the pair of trumpeter swans from Village Lake. Recently, "Ricky," the male, was found dead by the edge of North Pagosa Boulevard, next to the dam. We can only guess that "Ricky" was hit by a passing vehicle while wandering between Village Lake and Lake Forest in search of food.

For holders of 2006 annual recreation center memberships, renewal by Monday, Jan. 1, 2007, is necessary to continue use of the facility.

The PLPOA administrative office will be closed at noon on Friday, Dec. 29, and all day on New Year's Day.

Since the recreation center is in the business of helping folks achieve and get a jump start on their New Year's resolutions, we will be open.

 

 Business News

Chamber News

Get your nominations in soon

By Mary Jo Coulehan

SUN Columnist

Road to Recovery, the Humane Society, the San Juan Outdoor Club, United Way, Music in the Mountains, the Education Center, the Archuleta County Fair, the Knights of Columbus, Beta Sigma Sorority and the Rotary Club - they've all had a Volunteer of the Year associated with their business or organization, or they've received our Citizen of the Year award.

It's time to nominate an individual, couple or group for each of these awards. Though many individuals or groups fit both categories, here are some criteria to make the choice easier.

Citizen of the Year

- Has been a resident of the area for at least three years.

- Has contributed to the community in a special way, with measurable results.

- Is active in the community in civic events not related to the individual's work or business

- Has made an impact on the community in an economic, philanthropic, cultural or lifestyle-oriented way.

Volunteer of the Year

- Has volunteered time outside of the workplace to community events

- Has given time, money, or both, with great humility, expecting nothing in return.

- Has volunteered in the community, with significant results.

Nominations will be accepted until Jan. 8. Nominations will be considered in terms of the quality of the individual's or group's merits - not on the number of nomination forms or signatures received.

Winners will be announced at the Chamber of Commerce annual meeting to be held Saturday, Jan. 20, at the community center. This fun event will be a great time to gather with friends and business associates you may not have seen for a while, due to everyone's usual, crazy schedules. There will be a delicious dinner, announcements and awards, and then you can dance the night away to the music of the High Rollers. Tickets will be available shortly after the first of the year.

Please take the time to nominate a friend, associate or group for one of our awards. Receiving a nomination is a wonderful thank you to those who give so much to our community. Forms can be obtained at the Chamber, (they were an insert in the latest Chamber newsletter), or we can fax you a copy.

Board of directors

And while you're in the mood, don't forget to vote for three of the six candidates running for the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Candidates this year are Robin Carpenter-Hubbard, owner of Pagosa Candy Co.; Mark Horn, with Bank of Colorado; Shawn Lacey, owner of Plaza Liquor; Janis Moomaw, a community-involved, associate member; Jim Stacey, owner of RE/MAX Eagle's Nest Realty; and Frank Schiro, with Jim Smith Realty and owner of Curb Appeal.

Three of these candidates will join ranks with six existing board members. Our slate of candidates offers diversity, business knowledge, and numerous other qualities to an already dynamic board of directors.

You can vote now at the Chamber. There is only one vote per business. You will be able to vote until the annual meeting. If you will not be able to attend the meeting, stop by the Visitor Center to cast your vote.

Holiday reminders

Once again, we would like to remind everyone that the Visitor Center will be closed Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. We have visitor information for travelers available in the kiosk outside the building - road and weather conditions, activities, and restaurant and lodging information. Please refer people to this area if necessary.

We would like to thank everyone for the kindnesses and food they bestowed on us this holiday season. I never knew there were so many great cooks in this community!

We appreciate you thanking us for doing our jobs. We strive to better serve our businesses and visitors in 2007. We always want your feedback, and we appreciate the involvement our businesses have shown.

Memberships

We have one new member this week to recognize: Square Top Theatre, a division of Shechem Ministries, Inc. Square Top Theatre is a non-profit organization and a professional theatre company dedicated to the connection between individuals, community and faith. In the summer of 2007, they are planning two shows in repertory, and workshops for youth. If you have any questions or would like more information about performances or the group, call Lori Pepiton at (940) 782-5816 or visit their Web site at www.squaretoptheatre.com.

Our renewals this week include none other than Mr. Generosity himself, Bill Goddard with The Chokecherry Tree. We also welcome back Ramon's Mexican Restaurant; the Malt Shoppe; San Juan Veterinary Hospital; Foxfire Construction with David Brackhahn; Saul Furnishings; the friendly Trasks at The Lighting Center; High Meadows Mortgage with Jari Sage; Snow Country Adventure Tours with Larry Melton; St. Patrick's Episcopal Church; and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Associate members renewing this week include John and Char Neill. They are at one function or another, and we are grateful for their involvement in Chamber efforts such as their support of the Pagosa Perks program.

Also renewing are Don and Nancy Strait. Whether it is working with Hospice or supporting the various functions in this community with their presence, the Straits are the salt and fun of this community.

Once again, we thank everyone - businesses, their owners and managers, our associate members and our volunteers - for a hugely successful 2006. We love representing this community and will strive to do a bigger and better job for you next year. Have a safe holiday.

 

Chamber of Commerce board candidates

Three of six candidates will be elected to serve on the board of directors of the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber members can cast votes, one per business, at the visitor Center and up until the Chamber's annual meeting Jan. 20 at the community center.

Here are the six candidates, with their campaign statements.

Mark Horn

"Pagosa Springs has been my home since 2002. The Bank of Colorado gave me an opportunity to transfer from eastern Colorado, and I worked as a junior lending officer until April of 2006 when I took over the management of this office.

"Originally from northeastern Colorado, the mountains were new to me, however, the small town and its benefits were not. The largest of which I feel is simply the way we get to live each day. I grew up in Akron, Colo., where I returned to work six months after graduating from the University of Wyoming. While employed in Akron, I was a member of the local Chamber of Commerce and Elks lodge, and a Cub Scout den leader, in an effort to shape and support my community. I have continued this strategy in Pagosa Springs, where I am a current member of the local Builder's Association, serving as treasurer for two years, and a member of the Rotary Club. I will continue to look for ways to become involved in this community's growth and positive promotion."

Robin Carpenter-Hubbard

"Born and raised in southeastern Wisconsin, where my parents settled in the early '50s, and where my mother still lives, with my sister. My mother to this day still feels the best gift is a homemade gift. Every Christmas that I can remember, she would stand at the stove for hours between November and Christmas making homemade candies. I took over the tradition as I got older. My wonderful daughter was born in 1983 and she has been the highlight of my life. I met my husband in 1992. We shared a great life in Wisconsin for 10 years, then we decided to make the move west. We spent 2.5 years in Santa Fe when we found this wonderful little town of Pagosa Springs and there was a candy store for sale. What a dream come true, and it reminded me of my home town. When we decided to move from Santa Fe, we knew Colorado was the place we wanted to be. This is where I want my grandchildren raised and so does my daughter. She and her husband will be joining me soon to help with the business and live in the best little small town in the country!"

Shawn Lacey

"Born in Hillsboro, Ore., in 1955, I attended Oregon State University, where I received a B.S. in geology in 1977. I began working as a petroleum geologist at that time. After a year and a half, I went back to school at Arizona State University and received an M.B.A. in 1981. I then worked as a field geologist for Decollement Consulting, Inc. an international firm. I also did some in-house management consulting while working for them through 2001.

"Meanwhile, I owned and oversaw the management of a travel agency in Broomfield, Colo., from 1986-1991. During that time, I built it's sales from $400,000 per year to $1.8 million per year.

"After selling the travel agency, I began investing in Denver rental properties. By 2001, I owned and managed two seven-unit buildings, one four-unit building, one triplex and four single-family homes through my company, Suburban Investments, LLC. Since that time I have divested most of it, retaining just two single-family home rentals currently.

"In June of 2005, my wife and I bought Plaza Liquor here in Pagosa Springs. Because of the opening of two new liquor stores in town in the last two years it has been difficult to make it grow, but we are learning a lot, especially about wines!

"I feel that my diverse business background would be an asset to the board of the Chamber of Commerce. I like to brainstorm for new ideas, and I think my marketing experience would be helpful.

"My wife, Brighid, and I enjoy a variety of outdoor activities both winter and summer. We have fostered several animals for the Humane Society and we donate locally when we can. We have admired the work done in recent years at the hot springs. I feel that it is one of the area's greatest tourism assets.

"I hope I am given the opportunity to serve on the board. I am happy to have been nominated!"

Janis Moomaw

"My husband and I started coming to Pagosa in 1988 to ski. By 1995, we had purchased property and by 1999 we were living here full time. Bob and I have three boys - Matt, age 28; Alex, age 30; and Robert, age 35. All three of our sons want to live in Pagosa and are working toward making that happen. I love living in Pagosa because it has allowed me to enjoy some of my favorite hobbies, horseback riding, hiking and snowshoeing.

"Before moving to Pagosa I was involved in the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra. I first served as the chair for hospitality for guest artists. I was then elected president of the Symphony guild. The job of the guild was to raise money for the symphony, schedule the school programs, promote season subscriptions, sponsor post-concert receptions and arrange for the performers in the schools. We also provided money for the instruments in the schools. I also served concurrently on the board of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra. Since being in Pagosa, I have served as the president of the Mountain High Garden Club as well as the vice president. I am currently on the board of Habitat for Humanity of Archuleta County. I am the director of fund-raising for Habitat. I have also helped with the grant writing for Habitat. Habitats recent fund-raiser raised over $25,000 after expenses, more than three times any other fund-raiser Habitat has ever had. I have recently been appointed to the Music in the Mountains steering committee and will serve as co-chair for the Music in the Mountains benefit. I am serving on the annual Festival of Trees committee.

"The Chamber acts as a primary information resource for residents, visitors and businesses. It also promotes the local area and local businesses. With my expertise in running businesses and as a business manager consultant, I think my talents would be useful to the Chamber. Thank you for taking the time to consider me for a position on the board."

Frank Schiro

"I'm Frank Schiro. Together with my wife, Robin, my best buddy, Sitka, an all-white Siberian Husky, and our chocolate lab, Pinon, we've lived here nearly four years and are still discovering all of the things that make Pagosa Springs a great place to live, work and play.

"I'm one of a rare breed - a Colorado native. I grew up in Pueblo and graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in forestry. After that, I spent nearly 20 years in electronic manufacturing as a manufacturing engineer, manager and director of manufacturing operations. Since then, I have been actively working as a REALTOR®, first in Leadville and now here in Pagosa Springs. I have also nearly completed a master's degree in curriculum and instruction design, oriented towards adult education.

"Since moving to Pagosa, I have strived to be very involved in the community I love. I have been the public relations chair for the local Kiwanis Club; actively supported and volunteered at the Pagosa Springs Humane Society; have been the Pagosa Springs Area Association of REALTORS® treasurer, vice-president, president and am currently the Colorado Association of REALTORS® local director; was honored recently as 2006 REALTOR® of the year by my peers; currently participate as a voting member of the Town Tourism Committee; sang in the Community Choir; and am active in the Community United Methodist Church.

"I passionately believe in the value of an active, effective Chamber of Commerce. I have been a member here since 2003-2004, was a short-term manager of the Chamber Visitor Center in Leadville, and appreciate the economic development and networking opportunities the Pagosa Chamber provides. I hope I can be an involved board member in its continued success as it grows with the community it serves."

Jim Stacey

Jim Stacy is the broker/owner RE/MAX Eagle's Nest in Pagosa Springs. Jim has over 18 years experience in all areas of Real Estate. In additional to his responsibilities as managing broker of the RE/MAX office, he currently specializes in commercial real estate, land and land development. He has been owner of a real estate company in Colorado for nine years and in Pagosa Springs for over three years. He has previously owned chocolate, coffee and gift shops in Lynnwood and Edmonds, Wash., small communities near Seattle. While owning these businesses, he belonged to the Chamber of Commerce of these communities and participated in many of the Chamber events such as Taste of Edmonds, and several arts and craft fairs that helped to provide visibility exposure and traffic to the local businesses in these towns. Jim is an active member in the Kiwanis Club of Pagosa Springs and is the immediate past president (2005-2006). Kiwanis is a volunteer organization dedicated to helping children through young adults. Jim is a U.S. Army, Vietnam veteran, and has a bachelor of science degree in marketing from the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky.

 

People

Cards of Thanks

Baldwin

As many of you know, Gary Baldwin has been battling cancer for many months. Although he is still going through treatments, he realizes just how fortunate he is. He and his family would like to take the time this holiday season to say "thank you." First and foremost, he would like to thank his family, relatives and friends for their support, visits and phone calls. His family would like to thank all those who generously donated to his medical fund. A great big thank you to all those working for Archuleta County Road and Bridge crew and all the other Archuleta County employees who generously donated their leave time. Thanks to the Jackisch Drug crew for their understanding and support. An extra thank you for all those who donated goods for the benefit yard/bake sale. Margaret Gallegos, Tessie Garcia and Inez Winter, we owe you many thanks. Without you, the benefit yard/bake sale would not have been the great success it was. With all your support and caring, you have made Gary's battle a little easier to fight. Thank you all so much and may God bless each and every one of you.

Gary and Jeannie Baldwin; Gary Dean, Tracy and family; Charles, Jan and family; Larry, Suzanne and family; Dominick and Tina Louis.

 

Sports Page

Pirate wrestlers beat Centauri, wait for Rocky

By Karl Isberg

Staff Writer

While members of other Pirate sports teams had packed their uniforms into lockers and were home getting into the swing of the holiday break, Pagosa wrestlers had one more job to do.

Battle the Centauri Falcons in a Dec. 21 dual meet at the PSHS gym.

It was a successful effort - the Pirates winning the dual, 33-29.

The win came on the heels of points earned with Falcon forfeits. In matches wrestled, Centauri had a 4-3 edge and Falcon coach Randy Keys moved many of his athletes up a weight class in order to provide a better card for the evening. Thus, the visitors could argue the dual meet proved their team had put some tinsel on the tree as well.

The meet began with a match at 135 pounds. Pagosa's Dillon Sandoval took the mat against Centauri's Darrell Cordova. The match was one of the most entertaining of the evening.

Cordova got off to a quick start scoring with a takedown and nailing a three-point near fall.

Behind 0-5, Sandoval managed two points near period's end with a reversal.

At the start of the second period, the Pirate scored a single point with an escape then took Cordova down to tie the match. Cordova got the last point of the period with an escape and Sandoval started the final period in the down position.

It took Sandoval a while but, with 14 seconds remaining, the Pirate freshman managed to escape and tie the score, sending the match into overtime. With 26 seconds left in the overtime period, Sandoval took Cordova down and secured the exciting 8-6 decision. The Pirates were ahead in the team score, 3-0.

Next up, at 140, freshman Waylon Lucero had the misfortune of meeting one of Class 3A's better wrestlers, in Centauri's Mitchell Polkowske - the latest in a line of fine wrestlers from La Jara. Polkowske controlled every aspect of the match, going ahead 12-5 at the end of one, and building a 20-9 lead before winning with a fall in the second period. Centauri had a 6-3 lead.

At 145, the tide turned back to Pagosa's favor as Joe DuCharme defeated Jared Holman.

The sophomore Pirate nailed a takedown at the outset. Holman earned a point with an escape but DuCharme did not allow the Falcon a breather, taking him down and scoring a three-point near fall to end the period. DuCharme started down, escaped, took Holman down, then put the Falcons shoulders to the mat for a pin with 32 seconds left in the period.

Pagosa was back in front, 9-6.

Mike Smith was next up for the Pirates, taking on Justin Rogers at 160. Smith got the first takedown of the match, Rogers the first escape.

Rogers then took Smith down and the Pirate escaped to tie the score 3-3. Smith finished the period strong, getting a takedown and a three-point near fall to build a 7-3 advantage.

Smith was down to start the second period and reversed Rogers. A two-point near fall followed before Smith was dunned a penalty point for locking his hands.

Undeterred, the Pirate sophomore got the win with a fall 3 minutes, 44 seconds into the match.

Pagosa's Andrew Clark lost a match at 103 to Devon Romero, the Falcon getting a second-period pin. Centauri's freshman Cohlen Keys scored a technical fall over the Pirates' Cole Mastin in the third period of their match at 119

At 125, Centauri's Phillip Sheridan, a probable state contender at 119, scored a first-period pin over Pagosa's Caleb Pringle.

In the final match of the evening, Pagosa's Ryan Hamilton lost an exciting match to the Falcons' Jordan Hamilton (a cousin) when Jordan erased a 17-11 lead with a fall with 25 seconds left on the clock.

Coach Dan Janowsky continued to watch many of his young wrestlers work to adjust to varsity high school action.

"When guys make a transition from junior high school to high school, the length and pace of a varsity match can be a shock to them," he said. "We're still working to adjust to that shock in some cases."

At least one Pirate freshman, however, seems to be getting used to the change. "In a match earlier in the season, Dillon Sandoval got deep into the match and lost," said the coach. "This time, he still got tired, but he stayed in there, forced the match to overtime, and won. He did it because he had been there before, and he's learned something. That same pattern is going to occur with some of our other wrestlers before the end of the season."

Reflecting on the victories by DuCharme and Smith, the coach noted that Smith "was wrestling up a weight (from 152 to 160), but that probably wasn't much of a factor. And Joe was wrestling a promising freshman. We had the upper hand in both matches, but still got a good workout."

Bottom line with the win, according to Janowsky: "It raises our record to 4-2 in duals so far this year."

The team will have chances to boost that dual-meet record Friday, Jan. 5, when the Pirates host the Rocky Mountain duals in the home gym. The event features the Pirates and three new Mexico teams - Bloomfield, Espanola Valley, and Taos.

"I haven't seen these teams yet this year," said the coach, "but I hear Bloomfield should have a full team and should be pretty solid."

The duals start at 6 p.m.

The next day, Jan. 6, the Pirates host the 16-team Rocky Mountain Invitational.

Air Academy High School replaces Alamosa in the tourney lineup this year and several formidable squads will join the fray, among them Monte Vista, Bloomfield, Kirtland Central and Durango (which had some solid performances at the Warrior Classic in Grand Junction).

"Bayfield and Ignacio also have some kids who could be state contenders," said Janowsky. "Every weight at the tournament will have its share of contenders. The great thing about this tournament is we wrestle down to eighth place. What that means is the championship bracket has some quality and kids on the consolation side of the bracket still get quite a bit of mat time."

The Rocky Mountain Invitational begins at 9 a.m.

 

Pirates defeat Aztec, head for holiday break

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

The Pirates went into the holiday break with an eight-game winning streak in boys' basketball, with no losses this season, finishing 2006 with a win against 4A Aztec last Thursday, 54-35.

Pagosa won on the strength of a balanced offensive attack, made possible by a talented crop of eight seniors and strong team play. Center Caleb Ormonde led the team with 13 points, followed closely by guard Jordan Shaffer, 11, point guard Kerry Joe Hilsabeck, 10, and forward Adam Trujillo, 8.

The pace of the first half was slower than the second, Aztec reining in the offensive tempo. The half accounted for less than 50 percent of the point total, with the teams going into their locker rooms with the score 21-16 in Pagosa's favor.

The pace quickened with the third quarter and the Pirates expanded their lead, despite inconsistent shooting. "We didn't shoot very well," said Coach Jim Shaffer.

Shaffer has said that his team is not a great shooting team, but that they are successful when they push the ball and take high-percentage shots. According to Shaffer, the Pirates' ability to put points on the board relies on a team effort, including their success at spreading the floor and moving the ball.

Pure shooters or not, the Pirates have won the vast majority of their games by significant point margins, even against four larger schools.

As regulated by the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA), the Pirates will not practice through the holidays, until they return Jan. 2. After the break, Pagosa will warm up for league play with games in Kirtland Central, Jan. 12, and at home against Farmington, Jan. 13.

Though the Pirates' 11 non-league games, including one against Cortez in late January, do not count toward league standings, they could impact the playoffs. If the Pirates win the Intermountain League crown, as they are favored to do, non-league wins could determine the seed they are assigned. A higher seed would give the Pirates an easier opponent to begin the playoffs.

League play will begin Jan. 19 at home against Centauri. The Pirates will play two games against each IML team during the regular season - including Centauri, Monte Vista, Bayfield and Ignacio.

 

Pagosa Springs Recreation

Hoop Shoot winners advance to regional event

By Tom Carosello

SUN Columnist

The Elks Hoop Shoot was held Dec. 16 at the Pagosa Springs Community Center, with nearly 30 local youths participating in the annual event.

All participants received Hoop Shoot T-shirts courtesy of the Durango Elks Lodge and Mary Ann Carter, Hoop Shoot director.

The 10 winners (those who finished first and second in each division) are advancing to face competition from Durango, Bayfield and Ignacio at the regional event, which will be held at 9 a.m. Jan. 6 in Bayfield Middle School.

In the boys' 8- and 9-year-old division, Joseph Espinosa captured first place while Elijah Maxwell earned second-place honors.

In the girls' 10-11 division, Anissa Lucero took first, while Emily Bryant finished in second place.

In the boys' 10-11 division, Dean Hampton nabbed first place, with Garek Erskine finishing in second.

In the girls' 12-13 bracket, Brooke Spears earned the top spot and Courtney Spears won a shoot-off to finish in second place.

In the boys' 12-13 division, Kain Lucero took top honors, while Brandon Thomas earned the second-place slot.

The recreation department staff congratulates all of our local winners and wishes them the best of luck at subsequent events.

Basketball assessments

Registration for the upcoming 9-10 and 11-12 youth basketball seasons has ended and the assessments for these age brackets have been set for the first week of January.

All players and head coaches who registered for participation in the 9-10 league should report to the community center gymnasium at 6 p.m. Jan. 2.

All players and head coaches who registered in the 11-12 division should report to the community center gymnasium at 6 p.m. Jan. 3.

The assessments should last about 90 minutes; players should arrive ready to participate in dribbling, shooting and passing drills.

On a related note, the recreation department is in need of two head coaches in the 11-12 division and would like to hear from anyone interested in coaching a team in this age bracket.

If interested, please contact Andy Rice at 264-4151, Ext. 231, or Tom Carosello at 264-4151, Ext. 232.

Christmas tree recycling

The town will once again conduct a Christmas tree recycling program.

Trees can be dropped off at the designated site at South Pagosa Park any time between now and the middle of February. Look for the snow fencing surrounding the drop-off area and the signs posted just off of South Eighth Street. Please remove all ornaments and trimmings before leaving your tree. Trees will be mulched, and the mulch will be distributed to planting areas in the town's parks.

Youth basketball photos

Parents and coaches who ordered youth basketball photos for the 7-8 season can contact Jeff Laydon of Pagosa Photography at 264-3686 to check the status of orders.

The recreation department will provide plaques to sponsors who have not yet received them as soon as the remainder of team photos becomes available.

Skate pond open

The skate pond at the River Center is now open for the season.

Resurfacing efforts will continue Monday and Thursday evenings through the season.

On the nights we resurface the pond, skating will be suspended at 6 p.m. The rest of the time the lights will be on at night, and skating will be available from dawn until 10 p.m. Please observe any posted changes to this schedule on the signboard by the tables at the pond.

The parks crew will do its best to provide the level of services, as well as the level surfaces, to make the skating experience as enjoyable and safe as possible. The public can assist in this effort by refraining from leaving foreign objects on the ice, and by accommodating the wide array of skill levels and skating styles of their fellow gliders.

See you at the pond.

Sports hotline

General information concerning the Pagosa Springs Recreation Department can be obtained by calling the Pagosa Springs Sports Hotline at 264-6658 or logging on to townofpagosasprings.com and going to the parks and recreation link.

All schedules and upcoming events are updated on a weekly basis.

If you have questions or concerns, or need additional information about any of the Pagosa Springs Recreation Department adult or youth sports programs, call 264-4151, Ext. 232.

 

Editorial

Hopes for a new year

We are on the cusp of a new year, past the solstice, the days growing longer, and we look forward to change, to new op-portunities, to better times and better things. We are, like most members of the species, prone to succumb to the allure of our illusions, to the notion that things can, and in fact must, get better.

And so, like others, we think about what we want to happen next year. Though denizens of newsrooms tend to be rabidly incorrect in a political sense, and determinedly cynical in other respects, we communicate our wishes and hopes like others do, and we do so with regard to the "beats" we cover, to the situations we monitor.

Recently, we in The SUN newsroom discussed our hopes for the upcoming year, restricting our discussion to things local. And here, despite the gnawing feeling we want too much, are some of the things we hope for.

For leadership to emerge in Archuleta County government, and for the demise of the petty, personal bickering and conflict that has too often characterized the proceedings of county government at its highest levels. We wait for the time good sense, coherence and cooperation bloom and prevail - to everyone's benefit.

For town leaders to show they understand the town is at a pivotal point and to take advantage of the situation, provide for quality, measured development, knowing that to not do so is to lose the opportunity. We hope to see town leaders realize, as part of that move, that forward thinking and an ability to negotiate are part of the process.

That town and county cease paying lip service to coordinated land-use plans, and get to business in all areas that lead to reasonable and workable long-range planning.

For more efforts, in all sectors, aimed at diversification of our local economy.

For more meaningful and substantive input by county residents concerning development at the Village at Wolf Creek and with regard to the Dry Gulch Reservoir project.

For the infusion of younger blood and new ideas into local political parties and processes.

For an end to the attempt to destroy public education, with federal and state officials loosening the death grip of No Child Left Behind and the CSAP program. We yearn for an end to increasing bureaucratization of public education, the quantification of an education aimed at producing drones for miserable work. We hope burgeoning administrations are trimmed, teachers brought back to a position of respect - one in which their input is key. We look for parents who adopt productive, supportive roles in the education and health of their children.

For the additional safety realized with completion of a parallel taxiway at Stevens Field and for the county to find ways to increase access and use of the field by a larger number of residents.

For the completion and successful operation of a Critical Access Hospital - the next achievement by what we consider the most competent organization in the county - the Upper San Juan Health Services District.

Lastly, when we turn our attention to those other things we want for Pagosa Country during the next year, we find ourselves hoping for the preservation of all that makes this community a very comfortable and enriching one in which to live. We wish for the best for our neighbors and friends, for their health, prosperity and happiness. We believe 2007 will be best served if each of us attempts to emulate the charitable efforts made every year by so many of our fellow residents and local organizations, and to participate in the ongoing dialogue about issues important to all of us - taking part in our political and social processes, and doing so in a civil manner.

Karl Isberg

 

Legacies

Shari Pierce

90 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 29, 1916

It is alleged that one Max Ray Mickey and one Helen M. Crews were married on Christmas Day in Denver, if their plans did not go astray. We have no further information and must forego a write-up of the wedding until the arrival of the couple in Pagosa.

Close the old year right by going to church Sunday morning at the Methodist Church. G.S. Hatcher will tell you something of the rewards of right living.

Kathleen Schonefeld very calmly and politely informed us that she had an average of 93 this month in her school work and wanted it in the paper. The young lady is in the 1st grade.

The Christmas program at the M.E. Church was splendid.

75 years ago

Taken from SUN files of January 1, 1932

Owing to the heavy wind and snow storm the first of the week, Pagosa Springs and the San Juan Basin were again without mail and train service on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Commencing this week the Piggly-Wiggly store is making preparations to move from their present quarters in the Montroy building, adjoining the post office, to the south side of the Hersch Merc. Co. store. The complete change will be effected within a few days, though, as formerly, the Piggly-Wiggly store will have no connection with the Hersch store.

Paul Sandoval spent Christmas with Juanita relatives and friends. Paul made a jolly Santa Claus at the Juanita school Christmas entertainment Thursday afternoon.

50 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 27, 1956

John T. Clinger, District Director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service at Denver estimated today that 34,000 aliens will report their address in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado during January under the Federal Alien Address Report Program. It is estimated that more than 2,750,000 aliens in the United States will report their address next month in compliance with the law.

This year at the local post office was the heaviest for Christmas mail in the present postmaster's time and probably the heaviest ever. Postal reciepts were up about 17 percent. The post office this year handled around 75,000 cards during the Chritsmas mailing season and approximately one ton of incoming mail per day for at least 10 days.

25 years ago

Taken from SUN files of December 31, 1981

Pagosa Springs annexed about 128 acres during 1981. If all of the land being proposed for annexation is accepted by the town during 1982, the town could more than treble in area.

The Pagosa Springs Town Board passed an appropriations resolution funding the 1982 budget at $653,160. Last year's town budget was $733,308.

Logging and ranching continue in the area. Tourism continues to increase as a major local business. Local businesses are expanding and improving their stock of merchandise and scope of service. The Pagosa Springs area is becoming an evergrowing center for shoppers in the immediate area and Northern New Mexico.

 

Features

Las Posadas reclaiming a tradition

By Louis Sherman

Staff Writer

Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church enriched its Christmas traditions, Christmas Eve, by reclaiming a Spanish and Mestizo tradition - with its first celebration of las Posadas.

Las Posadas, or the inns, reenact the trials of Mary and Joseph as they sought shelter in Bethlehem, in preparation for the birth of Jesus. While the high-point of most nativity plays is the birth of Jesus - with strong performances by angels, shepherds and wise men - las Posadas end with expectation and celebration of Christ's impending birth, by culminating with the entrance of Mary and Joseph into the manger.

Traditionally, las Posadas are celebrated on nine consecutive nights, from Dec. 16 to Christmas Eve. Nine-day cycles of devotion, or novena, are important in the Catholic Church. Novenas are symbolic of the nine days Jesus' followers were said to pray, as instructed by him, between the ascension and Pentecost. As they reflect this traditional period, novenas are typically associated with mourning or expectation and preparation.

December's novena of preparation, which is one with las Posadas, also represents the nine months that Mary carried Jesus before his birth and the 90-mile journey Mary and Joseph walked between Nazareth and Bethlehem, said Father Carlos Alvarez.

Las Posadas originated in Spain, as an Advent novena, but the tradition reached its full development in what is now Mexico, as indigenous traditions were integrated into the Christian observance. According to Alvarez, Franciscan missionaries spread Christianity to the descendants of the Aztecs, a people with a strong religious heritage, in part, by emphasizing las Posadas. Aztec religion had included a procession to the temple of the sun, and the Franciscans were able to Christianize that ritual through the nine days of procession during las Posadas.

Alvarez said that the history of las Posadas was a "fine example of evangelism."

According to Alvarez, the Franciscans looked at the indigenous traditions and customs and saw Christ, despite cultural differences. Then, they found a way to build on the connection to Christianity and convert the people. The Franciscan missionaries sought to understand the culture, before attempting to change it.

But the missionaries did not simply develop the native culture. While Christianized, the indigenous culture added a more celebratory atmosphere to the Roman Catholic observance.

Christianized indigenous traditions are also apparent in the Mexican celebrations of Good Friday, Our Lady of Guadalupe and el Dia de los Muertos.

Reenactments vary in detail and expanse, some traversing entire towns in Mexico, others enclosed in a churchyard - some organized by small groups of friends or families, others by churches or even communities.

Mary MacGregor-Villarreal, in an article printed in "Western Folklore," outlines the two basic components of las Posadas: "(1) a procession depicting the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem the night before the birth of Jesus, and (2) a social gathering during which special Christmas season foods (for example, bunuelos and tamales) are served and a pinata is broken by children."

All Posadas present Mary and Joseph, as they journey from inn to inn. At each inn, whether in the form of a neighbor's home or a make-shift booth, Mary and Joseph are turned away, until they finally reach the generous host who allows them a place in his stables.

After Mary and Joseph are given shelter, participants in the procession celebrate with food, games and pinatas. On Christmas Eve, las Posadas lead into the Christmas Vigil and observance of Christ's birth.

According to MacGregor-Villarreal, las Posadas are not simply dramatic performances, proud parents watching at a distance. Rather, community members, even adults, alternate between roles of observation and performance:

"Everyone may participate in the procession. By doing so (by singing and moving from house to house as if looking for lodging), each person reenacts the journey of Joseph and Mary. Depending on the circumstances, however, the actual request for shelter or posada may be made by everyone jointly or by selected individuals posing as Joseph and Mary (performance), with the remaining people serving as spectators (observation). Similarly, at the gathering following the procession, children take turns trying to break the pinata (performance) while others watch (observation)," writes MacGregor-Villarreal.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, like many other churches and smaller groups, distills the nine nights of las Posadas into one, on Christmas Eve. In its first Posadas service, Immaculate Heart of Mary began with nine readings (like the traditional nine days of las Posadas) from the old testament prophets and new testament gospels, which prefigured or narrated the events of the first Christmas.

The scripture was read by youth in the church, interspersed with the congregation's singing of "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

Following the readings, the congregation began a procession from the Parish Hall to the church, following Mary and Joseph, played by Fatima Gutierrez and Max Miller. During the procession, Mary and Joseph stopped at four booths (representative of inns) and were turned away by the innkeepers. One innkeeper even shouted threats to the weary travelers: "You can keep on going and not bother me, because if you bother me I will beat you up."

Finally, the holy parents stopped at one final door to find lodging, this time the church, and were taken in. The congregation followed after Mary and Joseph, admitted as fellow weary travelers. After a responsive blessing of the manger and "O Come All Ye Faithful," Christmas Eve Mass was celebrated.

Alvarez said that the beauty of a celebration of las Posadas is that it frames Advent as a time of prayer, preparation and pilgrimage. According to Alvarez, Advent, the season that anticipates Christmas, has been swallowed up by secular Christmas traditions. Las Posadas allow for Christians to prepare for Christmas in a richer way.

While many are burnt out by Christmas Eve - because of a variety of Christmas parties, responsibilities and material preparations - Alvarez expressed the value in keeping the seasons, with the help of las Posadas. With Advent and las Posadas preparing the way for Christmas, building anticipation and excitement, Christians are better able to take joy in Christmas when it arrives, appreciating and celebrating all twelve days of the season.

Alvarez remarked that he does not like to listen to Christmas music until Christmas season, but that when he does turn on the dial, stations have stopped observing Christmas. He also noted that he continues to wish people a merry Christmas throughout the 12 days of the season, to the befuddlement of people who think Christmas ended on Dec. 25.

Traditional Mexican Christmas traditions maintain a sense of the seasons, while ordering the celebrations with particular focuses and meaning. Advent, which ends with las Posadas, structures Christians' sense of anticipation and encourages them to prepare, Christmas focuses on joy and redemption, and Epiphany celebrates the wise men's recognition of Christ. By giving gifts to Christ as king, the three kings revealed his divinity, according to traditional Christian interpretation. Epiphany, as a season, marks the Christian's duty to reveal Christ to the world.

Traditional Mexican and Southwestern observance of the Christmas season extends the celebration, with different focuses, from early December into Epiphany in January. Advent prepares for the birth and culminates in Christmas. Christmas celebrates the birth and culminates in Epiphany, when Christians take up the work of showing Christ to the world.

Contrary to the American tradition of opening presents on Christmas day, the traditional Mexican observance celebrates Christmas day with pinatas, while saving the opening of presents to Epiphany, in allusion to the gift-giving of the three kings, according to Alvarez.

Alvarez said the number of days of Christmas is significant, as it represents the twelve tribes and twelve Apostles. The thirteenth day, the first of Epiphany, represents the recognition of the Judaeo-Christian God outside of the twelve tribes and twelve Apostles.

Las Posadas, along with the seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, have more than theological or exclusively religious significance.

Stanley Brandes analyzes a traditional Posadas in Mexico, in an article printed in "The Journal of American Folklore," describing the tradition as a constructive social force:

"The posadas, I believe, have been effective because they impart meaning to people's lives. They provide a dramatic enactment of a mythical past that, for them, holds deep significance. In the course of the posadas, social norms and values are reinforced, and people of both sexes and all age groups have the opportunity to participate in ways that express ideal family role relations."

Las Posadas are not mythical in the popular definition of myth as falsehood, but in the sense of myth as a story and tradition that gives the lives of individuals and groups meaning and definition.

Las Posadas develop a brief passage of scripture - "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:7)" - adding to it meaning from diverse cultures, while reflecting basic human values.

The tradition of las Posadas reinforces the faith of Catholics and Christians, but it also expresses more universal human concerns, the safety and happiness of one's family and the search for and construction of a positive community.

 

Pagosa's Past

Corruption hinders progress for the Jicarilla Apache

By John M. Motter

Sun Columnist

After waiting almost 30 years, the Jicarilla Apache finally had a home, the reservation they still occupy in New Mexico just south of Pagosa Springs.

Unfortunately, even after obtaining title to the land in 1887 following a presidential order, the Jicarilla had a great deal of difficulty occupying their new home. Government bureaucracy, squatters and thieving, dishonest agents were only part of the trouble.

Black troops belonging to the Tenth Cavalry were stationed in Dulce, their job in theory to protect the Jicarilla and their hard-won land base.

The Tenth's commander, Col. Grierson, charged Indian Agent Christian Stollsteimer with using his official influence to retard the removal of illegal settlers from the reservation. Stollsteimer was in no position to protect Jicarilla interests. J.M. Archuleta, business manager of the Archuleta Mercantile Company and owner of a large livestock operation in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico was his son-in-law. Archuleta was son of J.M. Archuleta Sr., the Colorado Senator for whom Archuleta County is named. The Archuletas were well connected politically in Colorado. Archuleta Mercantile Co. at one time or another operated stores in Amargo, Lumberton, Edith and Pagosa Springs. I think the Pagosa Springs store was on Pagosa Street on the lot later occupied by Sullenburger's Hotel.

A great deal of feuding took place between Archuleta and his compatriots and the Anglo stockmen in Pagosa Springs. Archuleta's Pagosa business burned at least twice. Archuleta apparently led an effort to move the county seat from Pagosa Springs to the settlement that later became Edith.

It was natural that a man of Archuleta's economic stature would be called upon to protect the interests of his neighbors. It was partially through the influence of the Archuletas that the Jicarilla had been removed to Mescalero in 1883, and it was this same group that sought the advice of Stollsteimer when protesting the return of the Jicarilla.

Stollsteimer stated that he could not afford to offend the squatters; that he had much property; and that if he attempted to aid in their removal, they would prosecute him for damages. Furthermore, he expected to make his home in that section after he ceased to be Indian Agent. He favored the removal of the Jicarilla to the Ute Reservation and removal of the Utes to Utah.

Stollsteimer was not alone in wanting to send the Jicarilla and Utes off to Utah. Daniel Egger, editor of The Pagosa Springs News from 1891 until about 1900, wrote endlessly of the necessity of "removing the Utes." One can only assume that Egger's readers agreed with him.

Stollsteimer opposed the construction of a sawmill for building an agency and homes for the Jicarilla. When confronted by Special Agent Welton who had been instrumental in helping the Jicarilla obtain their reservation, Stollsteimer denied the charges and informed the Indian Office that Welton's envy had caused him to misinterpret his actions. Grierson and Welton brought additional charges against Stollsteimer. They claimed he was opposing government policies regarding the Jicarilla; that he was illegally grazing sheep on the reservation, and instigating plans to prevent the Jicarilla occupation of their own land. They both recommended his suspension.

In October 1887, the commissioner appointed T.D. Marcum to investigate the charges. Marcum concluded that Stollsteimer should be removed from office, but the Indian Office took no action.

During an inspection visit to the Southern Ute Agency in Ignacio, Marcum found Stollsteimer's farmer (Agent) guilty of signing certificates for vouchers he knew to be false. This indirectly implicated Stollsteimer. In June, Marcum finally had sufficient evidence to file the following charges against the Southern Ute and Jicarilla agent (Stollsteimer): awarding contracts to higher rather than lower bidders, making open market purchases at excessively high prices, purchasing old buildings at five times their true market value, making questionable distribution of annuity goods, and violating other departmental regulations.

On June 20, 1888, Stollsteimer lost his job, but through his political connections he obtained the position of clerk for the Jicarilla agency in 1889. Stollsteimer's corrupt practices gave the Jicarilla little cause to respect the government and its representatives.

More next week on the Jicarilla's long struggle to make a home in Dulce. Much of the information for this series of articles concerning the Jicarilla is taken from "The Jicarilla Apache Tribe, A History, 1846-1970," by Veronica E. Velarde Tiller.

 

Pagosa Sky Watch

Navigate the night sky: Ursa Minor and Saturn

By James Robinson

Staff Writer

The following sun and moon data is provided by the United States Naval Observatory.

Sunrise: 7:21 a.m.

Sunset: 4:58 p.m.

Moonrise: 12:24 p.m.

Moonset: 2:12 a.m. Dec. 29.

Moon phase: The moon is waxing gibbous with 63 percent of the visible disk illuminated.

With cold, clear skies, winter marks prime time for skywatching and an opportunity to brush up on some of the night sky's most basic, but essential constellations. And weather permitting, tonight is one such night.

Ursa Minor, also known as the Little Dipper, is a key constellation for both terrestrial and celestial navigation. Its alpha star, Polaris, is Earth's northern pole star and many a backcountry user has plotted their course with its aid. For backyard stargazers, Ursa Minor and Polaris are equally important.

Like terrestrial navigation, navigating the night sky and locating astronomical objects requires that stargazers begin from a familiar point of reference. Once the reference point is set, skywatchers can leapfrog from that point along a series of other familiar objects to their celestial destination. For many, Ursa Minor and Polaris provide that essential beginning reference point.

Much like its larger brother the Big Dipper, Ursa Minor - the Little Dipper - looks like a smaller version of the same ladle in the night sky, however size is not the only trait that separates the two celestial patterns. While the Big Dipper is an asterism within the constellation Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, albeit with its diminutive dipper shape, is a constellation in its own right. And tonight, that constellation will settle into a unique orientation, and will appear as though dangling by Polaris above the northern horizon.

To locate Ursa Minor, stargazers can begin observations about 8 p.m. and face due north. Next, locate the moon which will be soaring almost directly overhead. From the moon, scan slowly down the sky to a point about midway between the moon and the northern horizon. Once at the midpoint on the dome of the sky, inch slowly down. Barring inclement weather or other obstructions, Ursa Minor's dipper shape should appear clear and distinct.

Beginning at the uppermost end of the dipper's handle, stargazers will find Polaris, Ursa Minor's alpha star burning a yellowish-white. But don't be fooled. Although Polaris may be the brightest star in Ursa Minor, it's magnitude doesn't quite match its navigational stature, and at magnitude 2.0, it is far from one of the brightest objects in the sky - our famous pole star doesn't even rank among the 20 brightest objects in the sky - but then again, magnitude isn't everything.

After Polaris, the next major star along the dipper is Kochab - a magnitude 2.1 orange giant. To locate Kochab, follow the three stars of the ladle's handle down from Polaris to the bottom right corner of the ladle's bowl.

Moving just to the left of Kochab, stargazers will find Pherkad. With tonight's distinct dipper orientation, Pherkad, a blue-white star at magnitude 3.0, marks the left, and lowermost corner of the constellation.

A scan of Ursa Minor with a telescope or binoculars will reveal Polaris as a double star, however, the orange giant near Pherkad is unrelated and the pair do not comprise a binary system.

If storm clouds block views of Ursa Minor tonight, the constellation will maintain its dangling orientation through New Year's Eve and into the new year.

For skywatchers venturing out on New Year's Eve, look for Saturn just before midnight on the same vertical plane as the waxing gibbous moon. Saturn will be found just above the eastern horizon tucked near the star Regulus and the crook of the Sickle of Leo asterism. Saturn appears creamy yellow, and is always stunning through a telescope.

 

Weather

 

Date

High

Low

Precipitation Type

Depth

Moisture

12/20

26

7

-

-

-

12/21

24

12

-

-

-

12/22

34

-3

-

-

-

12/23

37

-1

-

-

-

12/24

36

0

-

-

-

12/25

34

-3

-

-

-

12/26

41

4

-

-

-

Another winter storm possible, then cold and clear

By Chuck McGuire

Staff Writer

In the first six days following last week's publication of The SUN, skies remained clear to partly cloudy, with no official recording of precipitation. By press time though, that appeared poised for change.

As of midday yesterday, National Weather Service forecasters called for increasing cloudiness with a slight chance of snow by late afternoon. Chances were expected to increase overnight, with snow likely throughout today. Provided the main energy of the storm follows the predicted track, snow should continue tonight and into tomorrow, with some clearing by tomorrow night. While this weekend promises cold, but sunny conditions, the next chance of snow arrives Friday of next week.

Meanwhile, daytime high temperatures through the past several days stayed mostly in the middle 30s, with Tuesday topping out at 41 degrees. Until yesterday, lows were fairly consistent, with readings ranging from three degrees below zero to four above. Yesterday's relatively balmy low temperature only dipped to 17, and that at 2:30 a.m.

According to the National Weather Service forecast over the next five days, high temperatures should be in the low- to mid-30s, while lows will dance around the zero mark. A moderate warming trend over the next few days will keep high temperatures in the mid-30s until Thursday, when the predicted high could make 40. Lows should follow suit, warming to the mid-teens Wednesday and Thursday mornings.

While conditions can change rapidly this time of year, early models indicate reasonable chances of measurable snow about every five days, over the next two weeks. Temperatures should remain seasonal, with highs in the 30s and lows in the teens and single digits.

In the meantime, moon watchers will want to pay attention each night for the next six days, as the waxing sphere approaches full by Wednesday. Provided heavy storm clouds don't obscure its view through the week, the January full moon will be one of the brightest in the past 12 months. Bundle up and check it out.

By 6:30 a.m. yesterday, the Wolf Creek Ski Area reported 62 inches of powder and packed powder at its mountain summit, with 59 inches midway.