News – The Pagosa Springs SUN The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Sat, 11 Jul 2020 01:34:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 News – The Pagosa Springs SUN 32 32 Biz Beat Sun, 12 Jul 2020 11:00:45 +0000 Bryan Looper was raised in Pagosa Springs graduating from Pagosa Springs High School in 1999. He graduated from Mesa State University in 2003. He is a Pagosa Pirate football coach going on 10 seasons. He has been a volunteer with Special Olympics Colorado for 20 years and is currently the local coordinator for Pagosa Springs. Bryan and his family love Pagosa and are invested in this community.

Bryan has teamed up with Leading Edge Financial Planning LLC and is excited to bring his coaching and planning experience into our community through investment, financial planning, insurance and retirement planning. Money, trust and leadership are three areas that he loves to see come together for families through financial planning. Contact Bryan to discuss how financial leadership can be leveraged for you and your family. 

For more information: LeadingEdgeFP/, (970) 251-0313, Leading Edge Financial Planning LLC is a registered investment advisory firm in Kansas and Colorado. 

School district seeking parent feedback on returning to school Sun, 12 Jul 2020 11:00:00 +0000 By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer

In its effort to determine what school will look like in the fall, Archuleta School District (ASD) sent out surveys to families and staff last week, and has scheduled upcoming meetings to garner additional feedback.

According to ASD Superintendent Dr. Kym LeBlanc-Esparza, one survey was sent to families and another to staff on July 1.

“Our best hope is to get feedback from our families as well as our staff on how we return to school in the fall,” she wrote in an email to The SUN, explaining later, “As we began to write our draft plan for returning students to school, we felt it was important to hear from families and from our staff, specifically around their comfort level and support for returning to in-person learning versus blended learning versus online-only learning. Obviously, we will follow the local health authority guidance as well as the governor’s office executive orders. However, it is also important that we hear from staff and families.”

The survey sent to families asks about:

• Remote learning experiences last school year.

• If parents plan to have their children return to school buildings if public health officials believe it is safe to allow in-person instruction.

• What learning model best meets the needs of children and families given current health and safety conditions — in-person instruction, remote learning or a hybrid.

• Comfort levels with things such as transportation, daily health screenings, face masks, movement through hallways, eating in classrooms, keeping students together in one classroom and more.

• If children would require child care for the days they are not in school if ASD were directed to adhere to remote learning or a hybrid model.

• Transportation needs.

The survey also asks for additional feedback.

Those survey responses, she explained, are guiding the leadership team developing the district’s draft plan for the fall.

As of Monday evening, LeBlanc-Esparza reported, the district had received more than 400 family responses and more than 100 staff responses so far.

“Once we develop the plan, we will share it with our Board of Education for their input and feedback. We have also invited staff to provide feedback, ask questions and suggest edits via meetings we have set next week,” she explained, adding, “We are currently taking RSVPs for both staff and family meetings. Our overall goal is to create a plan through a collaborative, transparent process, but one that also adheres to health and safety guidelines.”

ASD is advertising that the parent meetings will be held on Tuesday, July 21, and a draft plan for opening schools this fall is slated to be presented.

The meetings will be held at 5:30 and 7 p.m., with both meetings taking place virtually via Zoom — a change from what the district previously announced.

Those looking to attend either meeting are required to RSVP to Robyn Bennett at or by calling 264-2228, ext. 5401 to obtain access information.

Chamber has face coverings available Sat, 11 Jul 2020 11:00:05 +0000 By Mary Jo Coulehan
Pagosa Springs Area
Chamber of Commerce

To mask or not to mask. As indicated by last week’s town council meeting, mask requirement is a very polarized issue. Face coverings alone aren’t going to protect you, so other safety protocols such as frequent handwashing, not touching your face and distancing is encouraged. 

Although not required, face covering in Pagosa is encouraged. If your business requires face covering, are your employees trained on what they might say to encourage people to wear a mask in your establishment? San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) has put out some guidelines to assist businesses with this potentially “touchy” subject. 

If someone enters your business, greeters or staff could ask if they have a face covering to put on? If they do, great. If not, does your business have one they could offer? The Chamber still has a variety of masks that are available for free to businesses to keep for their staff or to hand out to patrons. 

If the person doesn’t have a mask and does not want to wear one, does your business have options to service your client: seating outdoors, curbside service, take-out service? Many people cannot wear a mask due to a disability. Businesses should honor that disability and make every effort to accommodate the client.

As mentioned, in addition to face coverings, does your business have sanitation protocols in place? How often are you wiping down or sanitizing door handles, light switches, merchandise? Do you have your area marked out for social distancing: people waiting in line, table arrangement, merchandise displays? 

There is not one silver bullet to tackling this pandemic. In general, we should always be following sanitation protocols — before COVID-19 and since. Ensure that your business is the healthiest it can be for your employees and those who patronize your establishment. 

Positive case numbers are increasing in Archuleta County after a very long period of no recorded cases. These records include both residents and nonresidents. SJBPH has these statistics on its dashboard: 

Everyone wants to keep our community safe and we must all participate in this effort. If your business would like some masks, contact the Chamber at 264-2360 and we will have some delivered to you. In addition, the Visitor Center has Pagosa Springs bandannas that are also available for distribution. Contact them at 585-1200 to request some. 

Park 2 Park Artisan and Food Market

We would like to thank all the vendors, shoppers and contributing businesses that helped make the Park 2 Park Artisan and Food Market a success. The significant changes that were made taught us some positive lessons which we will take with us in the years to come. Without the use of the town athletic field, this “spacing” would not have been possible. We welcomed many new vendors this year with stunning products. 

A particular thank you to the Vets 4 Vets who helped out with park maintenance. It was great having them there promoting their Rise and Recover Together Pagosa shirts, caps and other vet merchandise. We appreciate some of our local businesses branching out to try this market venue. We also appreciate all the work of the Town Parks and Recreation Department and all its support helping us to prepare for this Fourth of July tradition. 

We’ll see what next year brings us, especially with the actual Fourth of July day falling on Sunday. 

July 10 COVID-19 case summary: One new case in resident, one new case in nonresident Sat, 11 Jul 2020 01:34:19 +0000

Colorado Legislative Lowdown virtual event planned Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:34:00 +0000 By Janice Sheftel
League of Women Voters
of La Plata County

In this election year, it is especially important for citizens to keep abreast of the actions of the Colorado General Assembly. 

One opportunity for voters to learn about the performance of the most recent Colorado legislative session is through the virtual Colorado Legislative Lowdown, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of La Plata County. 

The 1.5-hour session with Sen. Don Coram and Rep. Barbara McLachlan, to be held on July 11, at 10 a.m., will focus on the highlights of the 72nd Colorado General Assembly. 

To participate or submit questions, find webinar information at or 

Urban Renewal Authority approves guiding vision and development principles Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:31:50 +0000 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

The Pagosa Springs Urban Renewal Authority (URA) Commission approved a resolution adopting the guiding vision and development principles for the organization at a regular meeting on July 7.

The initial draft of the documents were made by URA commissioners Mat deGraaf and Greg Schulte, according to agenda documentation.

According to Resolution 2020-03, the URA finds and declares that both the guiding vision and development principles should be consistent with the Town of Pagosa Springs Comprehensive Plan and a study completed by Smart Growth America.

The guiding vision for the URA reads as follows: “Pagosa Springs desires to promote and sustain an authentic Colorado mountain experience in a culturally rich, economically diverse town set in a vibrant, healthy environment. The very existence of the Pagosa Springs Urban Renewal Authority and its efforts should be in support of this vision.”

 The mission statement for the URA notes that the organization’s mission is to “facilitate public and private investment in underutilized areas to address community priorities and create thriving places.”

“I have to fully admit that I took a lot of the verbiage and inspiration from the town’s comp plan and also a little bit of information from the document that the Durango URA put together,” Schulte said during the meeting. “I think it encapsulates most of the commentary that I heard.”

Development principles

Within the development principles, various things are outlined for the URA to use as a guide.

These efforts include but are not limited to: offering a diversity of business, education and job opportunities, protecting the natural environment, embracing historic landmarks, offering a mix of housing choices and encouraging connectivity through efficient multimodal transportation options.

Loan program helps mitigate economic impacts to forest products businesses Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:25:01 +0000 By Teddy Parker-Renga
Colorado State Forest Service

The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and its economic development partners with the Upper Arkansas Area Council of Governments are providing loans to Colorado’s forest products businesses affected by the coronavirus. 

Authorized by the Colorado State General Assembly in 2009, the Forest Business Loan Fund has provided $5 million in loans to date to small forestry and wood products businesses in Colorado. In recent months, it has offered critical support to businesses affected by the coronavirus that may not qualify or have access to traditional sources of financing.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve received over a million dollars in new requests for financing through the loan program from businesses in northern and southwestern Colorado,” said Tim Reader, wood utilization and marketing specialist for the CSFS. “Our forest products and hazardous fuels mitigation businesses continue to operate, and the financing they receive through the program is helping them employ recently unemployed workers, purchase new timber harvesting or manufacturing equipment, develop new products and meet other working capital needs.”

Reader said that, for example, one applicant is seeking to hire new workers and purchase new logging equipment in order to continue to provide, economically, a supply of wood to another sawmill facility in southwestern Colorado.

“Due to COVID-19, some of our forest product companies here in Colorado have seen a drastic reduction in demand and pricing for traditional wood products,” said Molly Pitts, executive director of the Colorado Timber Industry Association. “It is super helpful that the Colorado State Forest Service and the Upper Arkansas Area Council of Governments have a loan program in place that these businesses can utilize, especially during this difficult time.”

Alternative source of funds

The Forest Business Loan Fund supports companies that may not qualify for loans with traditional lenders, so it does not compete with commercial lending institutions, Reader said. The loan program can, however, leverage additional lending capital for businesses, since forestry experts with the CSFS review and approve all loan applications.

“Through the fund, we help bridge the gap between the wood products industry and lenders to increase capacity for forest management in Colorado,” Reader said. “The Upper Arkansas Area Council of Governments brings their lending and business expertise, while we bring our wood products harvesting, manufacturing and market expertise, for a collaborative-based lending approach.”

The fund helps the CSFS meet its mission of forest stewardship in Colorado by supporting the forest products industry. Businesses that receive a loan must use beetle-killed and other timber from forest health projects, such as those that reduce wildfire risk. 

Reader said that this, in turn, results in healthier forests, communities and local economies, which is especially important during this challenging time.

“It’s a win-win,” Reader said. “We’re building capacity to implement forest health projects while helping to maintain or create jobs that bolster small businesses and our local communities.”

For more information on the Forest Business Loan Fund, including qualifications and an application, please contact Reader at 247-5250, or visit

Tee-ball registration for ages 5-6 underway Fri, 10 Jul 2020 14:17:36 +0000 By Darren Lewis
SUN Columnist

The Recreation Department is accepting tee-ball registrations through Aug. 3. 

The cost is $35 includes hat and jersey. Tee-ball season will be held during August. 

To register for programs online, visit the Parks and Recreation Department page at You may also register at the Ross Aragon Community Center. 

Please feel free to contact the recreation office with any questions, 264-4151, ext. 232.

Sand Creek Fire 20 percent contained, 104 acres Fri, 10 Jul 2020 13:35:04 +0000 Esther Godson
San Juan National Forest

The Sand Creek Fire has shown no significant growth over the last week. It is 20 percent contained at 104 acres. Most of the fire consumption has been limited to standing snags and dead fuel on the ground.

The public may notice light smoke intermittently as dry days in the forecast encourage the fire to clean up unburned fuels within its current perimeter.

Management of the Sand Creek Fire will be transferred to the local Pagosa Ranger District today.

Fire crews will continue to monitor the fire’s behavior and utilize helicopters for water drops if intense heat needs addressing.

Weather over the weekend is expected to be hot and dry. Please remember that fire danger across the region is rated as extreme. Fire restrictions are in place on the San Juan National Forest and within Archuleta County and Hinsdale County.

A forest closure is in effect around the fire area. The full text and a map of the closure can be found at

All offices on the San Juan National Forest are currently conducting business and providing services virtually. For information on the San Juan National Forest, call 247-4874.

Car Hop Movie Nights: A drive-in fundraiser Fri, 10 Jul 2020 11:00:42 +0000 By Alison Beach
Pagosa Peak Open School

Looking for something fun to do this summer? Swing by the charter school and catch a movie in your car. It’s the perfect social distancing night out.

Pagosa Peak Open School is proud to present Car Hop Movie Nights. All summer long, we will host showings in the style of a drive-in in our parking lot at 7 Parelli Way. Movie showings are on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights starting at 8:30 p.m. (or dusk). Entrance is by donation. Concessions will be available for purchase.

Email for movie information,showtimes and to reserve your spot. 

All donations from Car Hop Movie Nights will benefit the school’s capital campaign for building renovations. Pagosa Peak Open School is a tuition-free,public charter school serving Archuleta County dedicated to creating a community of empowered lifelong learners by providing a multiage learning environment designed to foster confidence, high academic achievement and the joy of learning through original and meaningful work.