Features – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Wed, 01 Jul 2020 21:33:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 http://www.pagosasun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/cropped-sun-logo-512x512-1-32x32.jpg Features – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com 32 32 Commitment, compassion and confidence: City Market’s Rusty Hector retires after 39 years http://www.pagosasun.com/commitment-compassion-and-confidence-city-markets-rusty-hector-retires-after-39-years/ Thu, 18 Jun 2020 10:55:18 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=205886


By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

Commitment, compassion and confidence are all things that every business needs from its leaders. Rusty Hector has exhibited those traits and more as a store leader for City Market for more than 20 years and is ready to clock out for the last time after 39 years of total service.

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‘I can sleep when I’m dead’: Jason Cox’s path to Pagosa http://www.pagosasun.com/i-can-sleep-when-im-dead-jason-coxs-path-to-pagosa/ Thu, 11 Jun 2020 10:54:03 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=205427

Jason Cox

By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

Local businessman Jason Cox has a lot goin’ on and always has.

“My grandmother used to tell me all the time that I needed to slow down and I was too busy,” he said. “I think I told her, ‘Well, I can sleep when I’m dead.’”

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From the canvas to the page: Betty Slade on connecting with others and finding inspiration through writing http://www.pagosasun.com/from-the-canvas-to-the-page-betty-slade-on-connecting-with-others-and-finding-inspiration-through-writing/ Thu, 16 Apr 2020 21:00:13 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=201555

Betty Slade

By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer
Often known as a mother, grandmother, wife or friend, Betty Slade plays many roles in the local community, but most know her best from her work with the written word.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.






Miracle on Fourmile Road http://www.pagosasun.com/miracle-on-fourmile-road/ Sun, 22 Dec 2019 12:00:59 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=193286

Ray Emery

By Sharon Fink
Special to The SUN
The saying goes, when you hear a bell ring, an angel gets its wings. For Ray Emery, when he hears an elk bugle, it may be his personal angel.
It began on Sept. 16, 2014, Emery, an avid hunter and fisherman from Pagosa Springs, had been keeping his eye on a large, blond-colored bear near Fourmile Road. He had set up game cameras and found evidence of how large this bear was.
“I found hair as long as a dollar bill and places where he scratched when standing upright that measured 7 feet tall,” he said.
He nicknamed the bear “Blondie” and wanted more than anything to bag him. Also spotted on his camera were pictures of a mountain lion, so he knew one was traveling through or was making this spot part of his territory.
Emery had a tree stand set up in a large aspen and had been going for days hoping to claim the elusive blonde bear. Three days prior to Sept. 16, he caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye.
As he investigated further with his binoculars, he was stunned to see the most magnificent bull elk he had ever laid eyes on. Emery called him an imperial elk because he was a 7×7, meaning 7 points on each side, totaling 14.
To see an elk such as this imperial bull is extremely rare.
As Emery was gazing at him in wonder, he thought to himself, “You and I are going to have an appointment soon.”
Little did Emery know his premonition was correct, but not in the way he envisioned.
Not having the success he anticipated hunting “Blondie,” Emery had decided on the morning of the 16th that the time had come to take the tree stand down.
At 11:30 a.m., he left his friend’s cabin where he stays while hunting on Fourmile Road and drove a mile or so down to park his truck. He walked approximately a half mile and proceeded to take everything down and move his equipment to a different location.
As he was unstrapping his stand and had to twist the pin to let the cable out of the top section, he felt himself falling backward.
“I threw my arms out trying to grab the stand.” Feeling the air rushing through his hair, Emery continued, “Falling over 30 feet felt like a long time. My thought was at least I am going to die doing what I love.”
Several minutes went by after the fall before he realized the severity of the impact. He saw his glasses nearby and reached to retrieve them, discovering a lens had popped out. He tried as best he could to move his body, but soon knew that he could not. He assumed he had broken both legs. He spotted the lost lens and managed to reset the lens back into his frames.
Needing a bit of shelter, Emery used his upper body to crawl his way to a nearby spruce tree. Using the cushion from the tree stand, he tried to make himself as comfortable as possible given his intense pain.
At around 4 p.m., Emery had determined he may not be found, so he tore a plastic bag he had with his supplies to make a garment to keep himself as warm as possible during the night. Because of the poor reception, he never bothered to carry a cellphone.
At around sundown, in the distance, Emery heard the scream of a mountain lion.
“I thought at first, ‘That’s interesting, I’d never heard one out in the wild before,’” he noted.
As time ticked away, however, the screaming became louder and louder as the lion was making his way closer and closer.
“The lion was winding me,” he said, using a term to describe the predatory behavior of lions when on the hunt
Lions smell their prey and wait for just the right time to attack. This lion was on the attack.
As the lion approached closer, circling Emery, who was unable to defend himself without a gun, the adrenaline kicked in.
“I knew I had to stay alert and not allow myself to go into shock. The only thing I could do was make noise by screaming and using my knife to bang on the metal portion of my stand which was beside me, hoping to scare him off. I banged so hard, I broke my knife,” he said.
Now, without even a weapon, it was almost dark. The lion was about 50 feet away and closing in.
“I was really scared. I prayed real hard,” said Emery.
Then he heard the snap of a twig.
“I started screaming and crying as loud as I could. I couldn’t move. My legs were paralyzed. I thought this was it. I made my peace,” shared Emery.
Then, out he stepped, just 5 feet away. The appointment Emery had wanted with the imperial bull had arrived. Instead of the bull being in his gun sights, however, he came to save his life.
“The huge bull stood between me and the lion, and let out a bugle so loud, it made my ribs rattle,” explained Emery.
Suddenly, a warm air came down, as soothing as warm water, and melted away the intense fear and anxiety, giving a sense of peace and well-being.
“I quit screaming and hollering and crying,” he said.
The large bull walked over to Emery and sniffed his boots.
“He started bugling again and a half dozen cow elk came out and took turns sniffing me and coming close. They wouldn’t let me touch them, but I came within inches. I felt at ease,” explained Emery.
During the next hour or so, the imperial bull kept up the bugling, signaling to the frustrated lion he chased off that there was no use trying to come back. During this time, the elk never left his side.
When Emery’s wife, Penny, did not receive a phone call from him by 7 p.m., she felt something was wrong. She waited until 7:30 p.m. and drove up the mountain from town to check on him. Upon seeing his truck along the road, she frantically began blowing her horn. By this time, it was about 8:30 p.m. Emery heard the horn and so did the elk.
A call was made requesting a search and rescue team, only to be told that since it was after dark, they would have to wait until morning. However, after enough persuasion, the team of rescuers made the journey. Between 9:30 and 10 p.m., Emery heard and saw activity and yelled so as to be heard.
“My brother-in-law first found me,” he noted.
The imperial bull and his group of cow elk by this time had left, knowing their services were no longer needed. Help was on the way.
“I don’t think I cheated the surgeon this time,” Emery told Penny as he was being carried out.
He was flown on a chopper to Durango. It was here he was told that any delay in him being found would have resulted in his death. Once it was determined he suffered a T-12 explosion fracture in his back, he was immediately flown to St. Anthony’s Trauma Center in Denver, over 300 miles away. He spent the next seven to 10 days in the hospital, then the next three months at Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver, a world-renowned medical facility specializing in traumatic brain and spinal injuries.
Today, Emery uses a cane and wears a leg brace. He also experiences intense nerve pain.
“My waist down to this day feels like it is on fire,” he explained.
Over the last five years, he has had five surgeries.
“God works in mysterious ways. I thank my maker every day,” Emery shared.
While motioning toward the scenery of the mountains, he added, “How can anybody deny there is a God when looking out at this? This is my church.”
Emery’s experience made him realize just how precious life is. He and Penny, along with their golden retriever, made their dream of traveling to Canada and Alaska a reality.
His having been the recipient of a miracle changed him in other ways, too.
“I was never the type of person before my accident to have ever believed such an event was possible,” he said.
He is a believer now.
“I love to hunt; I love the outdoors. I got a bull on my wall that I got in ‘09 — a 6×6.” With tears in his eyes, he adds, “After all that happened, I could never pull the trigger on a bull again.”

From weeds to words: Ethan Proud uses real-life knowledge for fantasy books http://www.pagosasun.com/from-weeds-to-words-ethan-proud-uses-real-life-knowledge-for-fantasy-books/ Thu, 05 Dec 2019 22:00:14 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=192448

Ethan Proud

Archuleta County Weed and Pest Supervisor Ethan Proud battles noxious weeds locally, but in five published books he’s written, his characters battle witches and werewolves, among other antagonists.

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World sailing expedition completes journey http://www.pagosasun.com/world-sailing-expedition-completes-journey/ Thu, 21 Nov 2019 22:00:05 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=191650

Photos courtesy John Barry III
A crew consisting of 30 people, four of whom were Pagosa Springs locals, recently completed a 56,000-mile world sailing expedition that spanned eight years. Done in intervals, the crew faced various adventures, such as braving the weather and interacting with new cultures and customs.

A 56,000-mile world sailing expedition that encompassed eight years and took a team of 30 sailors, including Pagosa Springs locals, ended on Sept. 18.

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Duty to country http://www.pagosasun.com/duty-to-country/ Thu, 07 Nov 2019 11:56:33 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190537

James Hart

On Sept. 11, 2001, James Hart was working as an electrician in Albuquerque, N.M., when he heard on the radio the United States had been attacked.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

Enjoying the beauty: County attorney sets the bar high with ultrarunning http://www.pagosasun.com/enjoying-the-beauty-county-attorney-sets-the-bar-high-with-ultrarunning/ Thu, 31 Oct 2019 10:55:16 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190114

Photo courtesy Todd Weaver
Todd Weaver runs in the Never Summer 100k in Gould, Colo., in July. Weaver called ultrarunning “a test to see mentally and physically what you can accomplish.”

When he’s not presiding over the county’s legal needs, Archuleta County Attorney Todd Weaver runs. Far.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

Lynch finds renewed competitive spirit through endurance bicycling http://www.pagosasun.com/lynch-finds-renewed-competitive-spirit-through-endurance-bicycling/ Thu, 10 Oct 2019 10:55:00 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=179470 Sometimes we just enjoy the finer things in life, the things that add much-needed stability and familiarity to our hectic work schedules and business lives. For some that may be enjoying a fresh cup of coffee in the morning, others it could be reading a book in the late evening hours. For local Bob Lynch, that simple pleasure is found in riding his bike.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

Photo courtesy Bob Lynch
The wonderful scenery of Iceland unfolds before local Bob Lynch as he participates in the 850-mile Ring Road of Iceland race this past June. Lynch has competed in numerous “ultra endurance” events that have taken him all over the world.

‘Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow’ Reflections from a refugee camp http://www.pagosasun.com/dont-stop-thinking-about-tomorrow-reflections-from-a-refugee-camp/ Thu, 03 Oct 2019 10:55:53 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=179020 By Casey Crow
Special to The SUN

Photos courtesy Beyond Words International
Volunteers for Beyond Words International provide healing arts programming for women and children living in a Syrian refugee camp in Thermopylae, Greece over the summer. The local team, photographed above, includes Kelly Ziemer, Casey Crow and Paula Jo Miller, who worked alongside international volunteers to provide instruction in English and math, as well as implementing art and dance therapy.

As the leaves begin to change and autumn slowly descends on our mountain town, it is difficult to imagine the adversity faced by millions of people around the globe while we are surrounded by such beauty.
Several Pagosa locals, myself included, recently returned from our pilot project with Beyond Words International (BWI) in Thermopylae, Greece, where we witnessed firsthand the suffering that characterizes forced displacement, but also the incredible resilience of the human spirit.
BWI is a nonpolitical, nonreligious 501(c)(3) that aims to bring healing to survivors of trauma through the arts in the U.S. and abroad. Over the summer, our team set out to provide healing arts programming for women and children living in a Syrian refugee camp.
We worked in partnership with Happy Caravan, an organization operating long-term on the ground in two refugee camps in Greece. We worked alongside international volunteers to provide instruction in English and math, as well as implement our own art and dance therapy programming for 80 children each day.
Despite the lack of coverage in the media, the refugee crisis in Europe remains dire as ever, with nearly 60,000 refugees awaiting processing in Greece.
The conditions in these camps are horrific and inhumane. Thermopylae is considered one of the better camps, yet even here, trauma is evident and an attempted suicide occurred during our first week on site. The majority of the children we worked with have grown up in conflict or camps, spending years traversing Jordan, Turkey and the Greek Islands. Many were born in refugee camps; and, thus, were never educated at all.
I want to illustrate the depths of the hardship these individuals face on a daily basis, but, more importantly, I want to convey the remarkable strength and resilience that allows them to continue embracing hope for a better tomorrow. The children we worked with are more than just “refugees.” This single label is not the only thing that defines them. They are intelligent, strong, dynamic and ambitious young people who have chosen to keep pressing forward despite countless reasons to give up.
Each day, we were challenged to create a curriculum for students of vastly differing levels of education, while keeping them engaged and challenged. We implemented a variety of art and movement therapy activities to allow children to express themselves through nonverbal means. One such project was called “Painting Your Heart.”
Local abstract artist and BWI team member Paula Jo Miller explained, “This project offered the ability for the kids to express their feelings through visual expression and creativity, without having to use words. We created a legend on the white board using colors that correspond to emotions. We explained that they could color the heart using any method, but it was important that they follow the legend. We also explained that they could use more than one color because often we feel more than one feeling. They were so excited to paint and made a point to keep looking at the legend to select the colors that represented their feelings.”
Every week, we gathered in the school, formerly an abandoned restaurant, to dance. It was incredible to watch dance work as a unifying force among the students. During class time, the children would inevitably divide themselves between boys or girls and Arab or Kurd. Yet, as soon as the dancing began, everyone joined together. The boys and girls danced side by side. Both Arab and Kurdish students joined hands to dance a traditional Middle Eastern dance called Dabke. When the founder of Happy Caravan, a Syrian refugee himself, came to visit and watch a dance class, he was shocked.
“You are tearing down walls,” he said, “the wall of gender, Arab and Kurd dancing together. I can’t believe this. It is really beautiful.”
Our team members also worked with a partner program called Happy Academy to provide English and technology instruction to teens and women. Miller formed a close bond with one resident.
“One woman, in particular, wanted to work on her English skills, so we sat together for many hours each day and talked, we read poetry together and we wrote haikus, a healing form of Japanese poetry. In her best English, she told me and created poems about her family’s story of living in and traveling from Syria and how they came to be in the camp in Greece. She shared about her son’s rare disease which puts him in the emergency room every month, yet they cannot get the medical help they need to proactively address the disease. She told me that because her husband is Palestinian, he is considered to not have a nationality. Therefore, he can’t have a passport, which is required to move to a country where they wish to seek asylum. Both are university educated and want to work to provide for their family. Instead, they live in a cramped space, in a country where they feel unwelcome, and they are unable to work. They have little hope for leaving the camp and beginning a new life like they once had in Syria,” she shared.
Our time in Greece was characterized by dramatic highs and lows — moments of heartbreak and frustration, but also waves of gratitude and hope. Toward the end of our trip, the children put on a beautiful concert at a local museum. I’ll never forget the image of our students standing hand in hand, faces radiant, singing at the top of their lungs: “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow/don’t stop, it’ll soon be here/it will be better than before/yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone!”
This project has once again convinced me that the arts carry an undeniable power to cultivate hope, healing and connection.
Having returned from our pilot project in Thermopylae, our BWI team is currently looking to our next project, this time with asylum seekers in our own backyard. In October, three of our volunteers will travel to the Texas-Mexico border to provide emergency aid to asylum seekers in partnership with an organization called Team Brownsville (TB). TB is a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian assistance for U.S. asylum seekers at the Mexico border in Brownsville, Texas. While the asylum seekers were once placed in detainment camps in the U.S., as a result of a recent Supreme Court ruling, most have been sent to Mexico to await processing. Many are fleeing endemic violence and crime in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Today, 36,500 asylum seekers are stranded on the border in Mexico, most with no food, clothing, or shelter. Of those, 600 asylum seekers (100 of which are children), live in tents under the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros, Mexico. Living conditions are poor, with little infrastructure and high levels of violence, including kidnapping, extortion, human trafficking, armed robbery and sexual violence.
Our BWI team will assist in preparing and distributing hot meals and other emergency aid to those living under Gateway Bridge. In addition, we have an opportunity to create healing art and dance programming for a weekly enrichment school in the area. We are currently taking Amazon and Walmart gift cards to purchase food, water, diapers, prenatal vitamins, powdered milk and tents.
To learn more or to donate online, visit our website at www.bwintl.org or find us on Facebook. To support our work, send a check or gift cards to P.O. Box 2503, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.