Editorial – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Wed, 13 Nov 2019 22:39:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 School board should prioritize transparency in hiring superintendent http://www.pagosasun.com/school-board-should-prioritize-transparency-in-hiring-superintendent/ Thu, 14 Nov 2019 22:00:18 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=191155 Archuleta School District’s (ASD) search for a new superintendent started out in a positive, progressive and promising manner. We had expectations of inclusiveness and transparency in the process; however, in a public meeting on Oct. 29, a SUN reporter was denied access to public documents.

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Help needed for Veterans Day breakfast http://www.pagosasun.com/help-needed-for-veterans-day-breakfast/ Thu, 07 Nov 2019 12:00:10 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190548 Monday will mark the 19th consecutive year for the Pagosa Springs Middle School’s eighth-grade class to host a breakfast to honor and thank the veterans of Archuleta County for their service to our country.
Students, parents, teachers and other volunteers prepare and serve breakfast to all the veterans who attend. But it’s more than just breakfast that is served. They dish out love, thankfulness and admiration for those who served our country. Everyone who attends the event walks away with a nourished heart and soul.
And like many good things here in Pagosa Country, the annual event has grown to such proportions that more help is needed.
Pagosa Springs Middle School teacher Scott White wrote in an email to The SUN: “This has become way more than a school event. To me this is a true Community event …”
All community members are welcome to help cook, serve and donate food, White noted.
If you are able to volunteer and help, the Ross Aragon Community Center gym will be set up and decorated on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m.
We guarantee that volunteering for this unique community-minded event will change you in ways you never could imagine.
The following unedited letters were printed in the Nov. 16, 2017, Pagosa Springs SUN. These letters can best explain the experience our veterans have by attending the breakfast:
Dear Editor:
“We got da’ bestus” Our 8th graders — “The best in the country”
Our students we have in the 8th grade are to be exemplified and this is due to what is taught at home and polished up by our educators we have here, we are so lucky and fortunate to have these folks. I have been to every one of these since Tom Richards invited me to the first one, and these young adults just continue to impress me with their very adult like questioning concerning veterans. They hit on everything from A to Z, and in between. It is a pleasure to carry on a conversation with these young adults and without being too redundant, it still starts at home and polished up with our educators suffice. These young adults that sat at our table and was replaced with vets, we all had the same admiration for them and again, it was our pleasure alone with a good breakfast served to the veterans.
In my 25 years in the Navy, 14 years was as a photo journalist and that was really interesting to a lot of these youngsters and the questions continued. Some of these young people were propounding questions to me and at that time, I thought maybe they should be having breakfast and I asking the questions. (Just kidding.) I told them that I had a better job than most flag officers (admirals), they made more money, but I had a better job than theirs … they laughed for the most part, they are very special people, what else can I say?
My comment to all who said to me, “Thanks for your service,” I replied with all sincerity, “Thanks for your support,” without that there wouldn’t be much for us.
Thanks again for the bang-up breakfast and the legion flag story, along with the choir singers, perfect.
Bob Sprague,
petty officer second class (retired)
Dear Editor:
Mr. White, the students of the Pagosa Springs 8th grade, the supporting staff and the many volunteers assisting them, did it again. In a matter of a few hours last Friday, children ages 13 to 15 demonstrated the meaning of values, patriotism, and respect by honoring the veterans who have served or are serving in the United States military. My wife and I were very moved as they moved from table to table greeting each and every person who entered. Their appearance throughout the event presented a professional, courteous, and mature image. I was so moved by everything that, unexpectedly, tears appeared in my eyes when a young man sat down at our table and began asking pertinent questions regarding military life. I became choked up and initially had difficulty talking with him.
I believe Ronald Reagan put into words what many of us “old timers” may feel during his farewell address to the nation on January 11, 1989. Here is an excerpt from that speech.
“Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American, and we absorbed almost in the air a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed, you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture.”
The age group that President Reagan referred to during his speech has moved to the range of 65 or so. Our ability to teach things such as duty, honor, and country is greatly reduced. It is now up to the parents and teachers of the children of today to help teach these important values. The current, almost toxic, cultural and political atmosphere of our country, combined with the method in which much of the media chooses to communicate many events plaguing our nation and the world, make this more difficult. However, the eighth graders of Pagosa Springs, their parents, and teachers have proved that they are up to the task.
Finally, I leave the parents and the children of Pagosa Springs with one last excerpt from President Reagan’s farewell speech:
“… lesson No. 1 about America : All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins. And children, if your parents haven’t been teaching you what it means to be an American — let ‘em know and nail ‘em on it. That would be a very American thing to do.
On behalf of all those who are serving or who have served their country, we thank Mr. White, the students of the Pagosa Springs 8th grade and all those who assisted them for their fine effort. It will stay with us for a long time.
Russ and Jacqui Widener
Over the years, the annual veterans breakfast has grown to mean so much to the veterans of our community. Our photo archives of the event document many faces of those who have passed.
Thank you to our eighth-graders for honoring and protecting the legacies of our treasured veterans.
Thank you to those of you who will contribute to the event this year.
Thank you to our veterans for protecting our precious freedoms.
Terri Lynn Oldham House

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Urban renewal authority decision http://www.pagosasun.com/urban-renewal-authority-decision/ Thu, 31 Oct 2019 21:00:44 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=190170 On Tuesday, Nov. 5, the Pagosa Springs Town Council will hold a public hearing to consider whether or not to form an urban renewal authority (URA). If approved, a URA will provide additional economic development tools for our community.

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Make your vote count http://www.pagosasun.com/make-your-vote-count-4/ Thu, 24 Oct 2019 21:00:45 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=189768 Voters have a couple of questions to consider on Election Day.
The following is how we’ll cast our vote and why.
Proposition CC: No.
Proposition CC would allow the state of Colorado to retain state revenue it is currently required to refund under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). The retained funds would be used for education and transportation purposes.

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Heroes, tragedies and losses http://www.pagosasun.com/heroes-tragedies-and-losses/ Thu, 17 Oct 2019 14:10:15 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=188998 Within seconds, Electra Churchill dialed 911 for help. She was trapped in the structure that exploded and burst into flames in the Timber Ridge Ranch subdivision on Friday. She heroically called dispatchers to send help to rescue her and the love of her life, Fred Phillips, who had also been in the structure before the blast.
Pagosa Country was shaken both literally and figuratively; for miles, people heard the explosion and felt their homes rock.
There are times when a dispatcher takes a 911 call that they have the solemn honor and great burden of listening to the last words of the dying as a part of their job description. And so it was on Friday night.
That dispatcher also has the tremendous responsibility of directing the other first responders. Pages went out quickly for emergency personnel and there were a lot of heroes who came to the rescue.
Bystanders near the explosion rushed to the scene and pulled Fred from the fire. Although he suffered great trauma and severe burns, he informed them that Electra was still in the structure.
Pagosa Fire Protection District firefighters, Upper Pine River Fire District firefighters, Pagosa Springs Medical Center EMS personnel, Archuleta County sheriff’s deputies and Pagosa Springs Police Department officers began arriving and rescue efforts were underway within minutes of Electra’s and others’ 911 calls.
Heroic efforts were made to fight the flames and to find Electra in the collapsed structure and debris. However, as the tragedy unfolded, it became clear that the call Electra made for help was most likely some of her final words.
Heroic words.
Fred was transported to Pagosa Springs Medical Center, where emergency room doctors and staff continued lifesaving efforts.
He was later transferred into the hands of the Classic Air Medical team and was flown to Swedish Medical Center in critical condition.
The explosion and fire claimed Electra’s life and critically injured the love of her life, Fred. Our community mourns for the tragic loss of this beautiful, caring and giving lady.
Electra and Fred blessed numerous charities and worthwhile causes in the communities they selflessly supported.
On Tuesday, Fred’s daughter Alexa wrote: “Electra was such a kind spirit that loved life to the fullest. She was an avid athlete; she and Fred loved biking … they’d ride 16 miles a day. Electra loved animals and never turned away a stray. She was with Fred for 25 years. He was the love of her life. She was loved dearly by her family and friends and will be missed sorely.”
The loss of Electra has been excruciatingly devastating to our first responders and our community.
For our emergency personnel, there is sometimes little or no break between calls. Early afternoon on Tuesday, another page went out for a man who was hit by a vehicle while riding his bicycle.
Once again, most of the above-mentioned agencies rushed to his side. Marcel Barel, 88, of Pagosa Springs, was transported to Colorado Springs Memorial Central Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries that night.
Marcel was featured in an article in the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2014 before moving to Pagosa Springs.
The article describes Marcel’s love of the mountains as well as skiing and hiking at high altitude.
“But as a boy in Switzerland, he was sickly and suffered from asthma. The Alps near St. Moritz not only framed the setting of his youth, but hiking and back-country skiing there strengthened his lungs and started his lifelong love affair with the mountains. That alpine admiration led him to the United States, the Sierra Nevada’s Yosemite Valley, a working friendship with renowned photographer Ansel Adams, and finally to a fledgling ski resort in Southern Nevada called Lee Canyon,” the article reads.
As a young man, Marcel was Adams’ assistant and he had the honor of lugging tripods in the Sierras and helping the photographer out with his work.
After moving to Nevada, he spent 45 years on the slopes and in the hills. As a ski school instructor, he taught thousands of youngsters and grown-ups to ski.
For decades, he assisted his neighbors with cutting firewood and plowing their driveways.
According to the article, he retired to Pagosa Springs with his wife in 2014.
“As a skier Marcel Barel knows every season must come to an end. But what a run it’s been for this mountain man,” the article concludes.
When dispatchers, firefighters, law enforcement and other emergency personnel are on the job, their workday hinges on matters of life and death. These heroic men and women put their own safety at risk to protect ours. They leave the house every day not knowing if they will return.
Working in emergency services can be a heavy burden to bear; outcomes, such as the loss of Electra and Marcel, have a huge emotional impact on those who worked the incidents from the initial 911 calls to Archuleta County Combined Dispatch to Coroner Brandon Bishop making the call to the family of Electra to inform them of her unfathomable passing and to our coroner advocates who assisted in the aftermath.
There is no doubt that our first responders care deeply about this community, take their duties very seriously and are extremely proud of their contribution to public safety.
In the aftermath of this past week’s tragedies, the heroes from these agencies, who came together with exemplary teamwork, are processing the tragedy and coming to terms with the unfortunate outcome. Thankfully, there are resources in the form of peer support counselors to help those in command staff and those on the front lines.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Electra and Fred, Renee and Marcel, their loved ones and our many heroes and their support teams.
Terri Lynn Oldham House

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Guest Editorial: First Amendment binds all American freedoms http://www.pagosasun.com/guest-editorial-first-amendment-binds-all-american-freedoms/ Thu, 10 Oct 2019 21:00:31 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=179551 The SUN is running this editorial in honor of National Newspaper Week.
Freedom of the press, of speech, of religion, of assembly and to petition the government are woven, like stars in the flag, into the fabric of the First Amendment.

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Homecoming traditions http://www.pagosasun.com/homecoming-traditions/ Thu, 03 Oct 2019 21:00:58 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=179033 Friday night will be all about food, football and friendship at Golden Peak Stadium.
Pagosa Springs High School’s (PSHS) annual homecoming celebration has been a fun weeklong celebration of Pirate pride for students.

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Celebrating another year of bringing you the news http://www.pagosasun.com/celebrating-another-year-of-bringing-you-the-news/ Thu, 26 Sep 2019 21:00:23 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=178549 Inside The Pagosa Springs SUN’s newspaper office, you will find a wealth of history in a place that we call “the morgue.”
The morgue is full of “dead” newspapers. Those dead newspaper issues go all the way back to the 1800s. They aren’t all issues of The SUN — there are also issues of other newspapers that documented the history of our community prior to The SUN.

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Controlled burns: A little inconvenience for a lot of good http://www.pagosasun.com/controlled-burns-a-little-inconvenience-for-a-lot-of-good/ Thu, 19 Sep 2019 11:00:05 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=178047 Smoke was prevalent throughout most of Archuleta County this past week.
Thankfully, the somewhat suffocating smoke came from prescribed burns in the region and not from a truly devastating and unexpected wildfire.

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You might just save someone’s life http://www.pagosasun.com/you-might-just-save-someones-life/ Thu, 12 Sep 2019 21:00:51 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=177406 In 2009, 13 confirmed suicides in Archuleta County placed the county high above state and national averages.

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.

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