Top Stories – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Wed, 29 Jan 2020 15:12:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.5 School district names new superintendent http://www.pagosasun.com/school-district-names-new-superintendent-copy/ Wed, 29 Jan 2020 15:12:04 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=196256

Dr. Kym D. LeBlanc-Esparza

Following a special meeting on Tuesday evening, the Archuleta School District (ASD) Board of Education (BOE) announced that Dr. Kym D. LeBlanc-Esparza, current state director for Rocky Mountain Region AVID Center, Pueblo, will be the district’s new superintendent starting in July.

The four finalists for the position were LeBlanc-Esparza; current ASD assistant superintendent Laura E. Mijares; Dr. Thomas C. Heald, current interim superintendent of Aspen School District; and John W. Pandolfo, current superintendent, Barre Unified Union School District, Barre, Vt.

Those finalists were announced at a special meeting of the ASD board on Dec. 19, 2019.

LeBlanc-Esparza has been the state director  Western Division – AVID Center, Rocky Mountain Region, since January 2019, according to her resume.

Prior to that, she was the executive director of secondary education and career and technical education at Pueblo School District 60 in Pueblo, Colo. from  June 2018 until January 2019.

According to her resume, from June 2012 to June 2018 LeBlanc-Esparza was superintendent of Newberg School District, Newberg, Ore. 

The ASD board began its search for a new superintendent after current Superintendent Linda Reed announced her retirement in a letter to parents on June 2, 2019.

Reed noted in that letter to parents that the 2019-2020 school year would be her last with the district.

For more information, see this Thursday’s issue of The SUN.

 

]]>
PAWSD addresses affordable housing fee waivers, making up for lost revenue http://www.pagosasun.com/pawsd-addresses-affordable-housing-fee-waivers-making-up-for-lost-revenue-2/ Wed, 29 Jan 2020 12:00:40 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195900 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

During a regular meeting of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) Board of Directors on Jan. 16, the board discussed potential fee waivers for affordable housing developments and how to make up for potential lost revenue.
The majority of the discussion at the board meeting on Jan. 16 centered around a worksheet crafted by PAWSD District Manager Justin Ramsey.
In a follow-up interview on Jan. 21, Ramsey clarified more about what the fee waivers could mean for PAWSD.
Currently, PAWSD charges about $4,898.68 per equivalent unit (EU) for its water capital investment fee (CIF), according to the worksheet.
For its wastewater CIF, PAWSD charges $1,079.44 per EU.
PAWSD has 5,961 water connections, 3,382 wastewater connections, 7,837 water EUs and 4,581.5 wastewater EUs.
Within the worksheet, variables are also noted, and for potential affordable housing developments that would serve those making under 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), PAWSD would be willing to waive 100 percent of its CIF fees.
For developments that are 60 to 80 percent AMI, PAWSD would be willing to waive 50 percent of its CIF; for developments that are 81 to 100 percent AMI, PAWSD would only be willing to waive 25 percent of its CIF, according to the worksheet.
“An AMI is either a mortgage, or rent of $1,269. It gets more complicated than that. It depends on if you’re single, married, kids, all that stuff, but in general, that’s what it is,” Ramsey said.
PAWSD has not figured out who exactly will tell them what the AMI is, he noted.
“We’re not going to let the contractor tell us that,” he said. “If somebody comes in and they are going to build a home that’s less than 60 percent AMI, we’re not going to charge them a capital investment fee.”
Assumptions
Within the worksheet, it is noted that PAWSD will have 2 percent growth annually; this equates to about 157 water EUs, or $768,092.76, and 92 wastewater EUs, or $99,308.48.
“That’s where we came up with for our capital investment plan and it’s what we use for our rate study. So, it’s consistent with that rate study,” he said. “Based on 2 percent, we’re going to see 157 water EUs this coming year and 92 wastewater EUs, assuming 2 percent growth.”
Additionally, PAWSD assumes that, of those 157 EUs, 5 percent will be workforce housing that is less than 60 percent AMI, 8 percent will be 61 to 80 percent AMI, and 10 percent will be 81 to 100 percent AMI, Ramsey explained.
If there is 5 percent of workforce housing that is less than 60 percent AMI, that equates to eight EUs, which also equates to $39,189.44 that PAWSD could lose in water EUs, Ramsey explained.
Additionally, that would equate to five wastewater EUs, which equates to $5,397.20 that PAWSD could lose.
For units that are 61 to 80 percent AMI, it would be 12 water EUs and seven wastewater EUs, which means PAWSD could lose $29,392.08 and $3,778.04, respectively.
On developments that are 81 to 100 percent AMI, that equates to 16 water EUs and 10 wastewater EUs, respectively, which means PAWSD could lose $19,594.72 and $2,698.60.
“Everything is based off that rate study and that capital investment plan, which assumes you’re going to have that money,” he said.
Impact
Under the assumption that there will be 157 new homes built next year, and that 5 percent will be under 60 percent AMI, 8 percent will be 60 to 80 percent AMI and 10 percent AMI, PAWSD could lose $88,176.24 in water CIF and $11,873.84 in wastewater CIF, according to Ramsey.
“We’re going to make an assumption. We’re going to go out on a limb and say this is how many we’re going to get,” he said. “If there’s more, we lose more. If there’s less, we don’t lose that much.”
If everything goes according to PAWSD’s assumptions, PAWSD will have to make up about $100,000 in lost water and wastewater CIFs, Ramsey noted.
The way to make that up is to increase the remaining CIFs for all of the homes that are being built for over 100 percent AMI, Ramsey explained.
For homes above 100 percent AMI, water CIFs could go up $728.73, making the new water CIF $5,627.41, Ramsey explained.
This would be a 12.9 percent increase for the water CIF, he added.
For the wastewater CIF, homes over 100 percent AMI could see an increase of $169.63, making the new wastewater CIF $1,249.07.
This would be a 13.6 percent increase for wastewater CIF, he noted.
“If all that happens and all of our assumptions are correct, that we do get exactly 157 new homes built and 5 percent of those are less than 60, 8 percent of those are 60 to 80 and 10 percent are 81 to 100, PAWSD breaks even,” he said. “If it’s less than that, we’ll actually bring in more. If it’s more than that, we will lose some. But we’re assuming, over time, that’s what we’re going to average.”
These assumptions could be adjusted later, Ramsey explained later.
“The board represents the people. So, they have to make a decision on if it’s worth — every house that’s built out there that’s not affordable is now going to cost an extra $900,” Ramsey said. “Is the benefit of having affordable housing worth that additional cost to the public as a whole?”
Ramsey explained that this proposition will be a decision item for the PAWSD Board of Directors at its next board meeting on Feb. 13 at 5 p.m. at the district office, 100 Lyn Ave.

]]>
Bird of the Week http://www.pagosasun.com/bird-of-the-week-117/ Wed, 29 Jan 2020 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195997

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the merlin.
Merlins are small, fierce falcons typically flying 30 mph with pointed wings and quick, powerful wing beats. Spectacular aerial displays by the male are part of courtship rituals.
They eat mostly songbirds or small shorebirds, often specializing in the most abundant species in an area. Hunting styles include scanning the surroundings from treetops or flying horizontally in quick pursuit and chasing prey upwards until it tires. They sometimes hunt in pairs. Each merlin eats up to 900 birds per year. In turn, they are preyed upon by peregrine falcons, great-horned owls, and Cooper’s and red-tailed hawks.
Although at 9.5 inches to 11.5 inches, merlins are only slightly larger than a kestrel; they can weigh up to three times as much. Like most raptors, the female is larger than the male. Males have bluish-gray backs, heavily streaked undersides and black tails with thin white bands. They show a thin white eyebrow, but the falcon mustache is not evident. Females and immatures are brownish-colored.
Three subspecies varying in plumage, ranging from dark to light, occur in North America. Merlins are widespread, but not common, within their range. Adapting to changes in their habitats, they are becoming more numerous in urban areas due to the abundance of house sparrows to feed on. They are reported in our area from late fall through spring.
For information on bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

]]>
Paden Bailey named Fall Player of the Year http://www.pagosasun.com/paden-bailey-named-fall-player-of-the-year-2/ Wed, 29 Jan 2020 12:00:18 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195909

Photo courtesy
Stacey Barker
Pagosa Springs High School senior Paden Bailey was recently named an Intermountain League Fall Player of the Year for his work as part of the Pirate football team.

By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer

Pagosa Springs High School’s Paden Bailey recently received the honor of being named one of the Intermountain League’s two fall players of the year.
Bailey, a senior, received the honor for his work on the gridiron this season, having helped his team to a 5-5 record, which included a perfect 4-0 league record, and a playoff appearance.
Bailey logged 14 touchdowns in the 2019 campaign.
He also logged 1,073 rushing yards on the season, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and 107.3 rushing yards per game, and notched 201 receiving yards.
“I’m happy for him. It’s a great honor,” Pirate football coach Myron Stretton said in an interview on Wednesday. “Obviously he was a huge part of our success. Offensively and defensively, and of course statistically. You look at his stats statewide in rushing, scoring, even total offense, I think.”
Bailey was also the leading punter in the state, Stretton indicated.
“I think he was top 10 in most offensive categories where he would receive some stats,” he said. “Just a huge contributor and a big part of our success and, more importantly, a great kid on top of that.”

]]>
Historic Preservation Board seeking public input on future of Water Works building http://www.pagosasun.com/historic-preservation-board-seeking-public-input-on-future-of-water-works-building/ Wed, 29 Jan 2020 12:00:07 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195993 By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer

The Town of Pagosa Springs is seeking input on what should be done with the town’s only public historic site, the Water Works site near U.S. 160 and 1st Street.
To help determine the future use or uses of the site, the town’s Historic Preservation Board is slated to host a series of three design vision exercises to help garner ideas, with the first set for 5 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 5 in the Ross Aragon Community Center.
The design vision exercises are the next step in a planning and repurposing process for the site that dates back to 2016.
The site includes the historic Water Works building and tanks, as well as an older stone arch bridge known as the Rumbaugh Creek bridge, which have all seen restoration work in recent years thanks to grant funding received by the town.
“The Water Plant in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, was built in 1938 as one of the projects built under the auspices of the federal New Deal’s Works Progress Administration,” a historic assessment of the site notes. “The rustic stone building and its three associated water-settling tanks, which cost $4,630.00, provided domestic water to the residents of the town from the San Juan River.”
The assessment further explains that water flowed into the first settling tank, where dirt settled on the floor and clear water flowed over the gaps in the tops of the walls to the second and third tanks.
It continues to explain the water was pumped from the third tank through the Water Works building, to a pipeline to a water tower on the west side of town, where it was gravity-fed through pipes into homes and businesses.
It is unknown when the building stopped being used to treat water, though it is believed it was used until the 1960s, Senior Planner Cindy Schultz told The SUN.
“What should be done with the wall? Or the stone arch bridge? Or the structure? What would make your kids want to visit here? What do they want to see? What would make this a cool place to visit? This is your public historic site, help us make your wishes reality,” a town press release states.
The second of the design vision events is slated for the same time and place on Feb. 19, with the third following on March 4.
The press release notes the site is also slated to eventually host the Riverwalk trail connection from Cotton Hole to the River Center area east of the river.
“We hope you will attend and take part in creating this vision for this place that you will feel connected to and cherish into the future. Make history now,” the press release states.

]]>
San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging: Scams use fear to succeed http://www.pagosasun.com/san-juan-basin-area-agency-on-aging-scams-use-fear-to-succeed/ Wed, 29 Jan 2020 12:00:01 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=196012 By Kay Kaylor
PREVIEW Columnist

For San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA), I am not only a part-time lead long-term care ombudsman, advocating for residents in extended care and assisted living residences in the region. I also am a Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor. Information on the many aging and care concerns will be included here.
People in Pagosa Springs and nationally have been targeted by phone and computer scammers of all types, but the most heartbreaking scams involve fear and time pressure. First, the scammer mentions a crisis or major problem that must be quickly solved. After various emotions arise naturally from the listener or reader as a response to the threat, the scammer offers a solution involving payment, such as purchasing a gift card, wiring money, buying a cashier’s check, or giving out banking or other private information.
For phone calls, the best solution is to hang up. Even better, don’t answer the phone if you can see the number and don’t recognize it. If it is important, the person will leave a message or try again. Don’t open or answer emails with only links or poor English. Sometimes you can see the strange email address even if it appears to be real in the heading. If you do get caught up in the emotions from a threat, pause and make a list of pros and cons in your head. This will give you time to avoid a bad decision.
Scammers expertly use fake phone number and email identifications, but awareness of types of scams goes a long way toward prevention of financial loss. The real agencies and businesses the scammers fake would never call or email someone with these threats.
Here are six examples of common fear tactics:
1. A fake utility company says you are behind in your bill and will lose power if you don’t pay cash now (some even come to your door — don’t open it if you are not expecting someone).
2. The imposter Internal Revenue Service says you made criminal mistakes or owe money when you filed your taxes and soon will be arrested.
3. The artificial Social Security Administration says your Social Security number has been used in crimes and you will be arrested, asking for your Social Security number or money.
4. A warning says you are about to get a computer virus, often with loud noises and flashes if seen on your computer, and will lose your data, such as photos (shut it down or restart).
5. An immoral DNA cancer screener says people have died because they didn’t take the test they are offering.
6. A scammer says you will be arrested for not showing up for jury duty unless you pay.
SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call 264-0501 or send an email to adrc@sjbaaa.org.

]]>
School district names new superintendent http://www.pagosasun.com/school-district-names-new-superintendent/ Wed, 29 Jan 2020 00:46:12 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=196246

Dr. Kym D. LeBlanc-Esparza

Following a special meeting on Tuesday evening, the Archuleta School District (ASD) Board of Education (BOE) announced that Dr. Kym D. LeBlanc-Esparza, current state director for Rocky Mountain Region AVID Center, Pueblo, will be the district’s new superintendent starting in July.

The four finalists for the position were LeBlanc-Esparza; current ASD assistant superintendent Laura E. Mijares; Dr. Thomas C. Heald, current interim superintendent of Aspen School District; and John W. Pandolfo, current superintendent, Barre Unified Union School District, Barre, Vt.

Those finalists were announced at a special meeting of the ASD board on Dec. 19, 2019.

LeBlanc-Esparza has been the state director  Western Division – AVID Center, Rocky Mountain Region, since January 2019, according to her resume.

Prior to that, she was the executive director of secondary education and career and technical education at Pueblo School District 60 in Pueblo, Colo. from  June 2018 until January 2019.

According to her resume, from June 2012 to June 2018 LeBlanc-Esparza was superintendent of Newberg School District, Newberg, Ore. 

The ASD board began its search for a new superintendent after current Superintendent Linda Reed announced her retirement in a letter to parents on June 2, 2019.

Reed noted in that letter to parents that the 2019-2020 school year would be her last with the district.

For more information, see this Thursday’s issue of The SUN.

 

]]>
Rapped in the words of grace http://www.pagosasun.com/rapped-in-the-words-of-grace/ Tue, 28 Jan 2020 12:00:31 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195835 By Betty Slade
Preview Columnist

“Why are you listening to rap music?” My son questioned. “Are you going to start rapping? Is that your next calling?”
“No! And I’m not rapping. I’m only getting into the words of a song. Believe it or not, they are heartfelt.”
Once again, I found myself defending my actions to my son.
I suppose I could learn to rap by listening to some of today’s biggest artists. But more than anything, I wanted to hear what Kanye West was saying. Yes, he is radical, but I have no doubt that he has made the biggest decision, turning his life over to God.
I understand radical. When God touched me, I became as radical as Kanye, maybe even more so. The religious world didn’t know what to do with me. I probably even seemed like a complete mockery to those who acted differently than I did at the time.
Recently, I attended my Tuesday night prayer group via videoconference. It is a composite of five sets of parents (and one grandmother) whose children are involved with filmmaking in Hollywood, Calif. These young adults are facing some big decisions in the movie business as they learn to stand on their own Christian foundations.
One of the prayer group attendees played Kanye West’s new single, “Jesus is King.” I listened to the musical lyrics with complete attention. Here is an artist who has worked in the world of entertainment, professing to no longer desire the life he had lived to this point.
He has decided to walk a new path and has made Jesus his King. People are questioning his authenticity. While it is not my place to judge, here is an interesting thought: How many people questioned his authenticity before he professed his new-found faith?
Kanye West dropped his ninth album, “Jesus is King,” following a lengthy and confusing rollout that left fans wondering what he was up to. Many have said that his faith-based dramatic decision could cripple his music career. He could lose sales and popularity.
Beyond the message that he now professes, and inside his lyrics, I heard a sadder story. Here is a man who has felt judged by the religious world. A man who doesn’t fit in with his old buddies. Now, he is surrounded by new friends who may be skeptical of him.
It must be an odd state to find oneself pigeonholed by his own decision. Undoubtedly, Kanye has put himself in-between people who he once felt comfortable with, and those who may not be entirely comfortable with him.
His own wife is having trouble embracing his changed lifestyle. Here is someone he committed himself to in sickness and health. She dressed provocatively, wearing on his arm like his best suit. Flash forward and we see Kanye opening up about his before and after, stating that he wants her to “cover up.” It will be interesting to see if thread count wins in the end.
To be fair, I didn’t even know who Kanye was until he came forward as a changed man. His past? Doesn’t seem to be getting him down any. He is visiting prisons and bringing many to their knees as they profess their own decision of faith.
A friend told me that Kanye had been invited to a Houston mega church. He spoke honestly, but clearly lacked biblical knowledge. While it’s not fair to judge where he is or isn’t in his Christian walk, it does make you wonder if this man is being elevated before due time. We are told in the book of Timothy not to promote a novice for he will surely fall. It seems like a long way down for someone positioning himself on such a high pedestal.
I remember when Michael English won two Dove Awards in 1992 for Male Vocalist and New Artist of the Year. Soon after that, God convicted him and he came clean confessing he had an affair outside of marriage. He was brutally crucified and was stripped of everything, the Dove Awards, his recording contract and a promising career.
Many in the religious world turned their backs on English. In fact, it has taken years for him to find his way back to the stage. He went through a divorce and wrestled through many nightmares. Today, Michael has a beautiful family and is standing above his fall.
Final brushstroke: We all have a past. For some, we need to reconcile where we put ourselves. For others, there is an opportunity to reconcile what we have been delivered from. Whether we are walking through a lit door that has been previously darkened, or seeing spotlights fade, requiring a candle to guide our way, it is by grace that we know where and how to stand.
Readers’ comments
Send your comment to betty@bettyslade.com.

]]>
CPW seeks input on elk management plans http://www.pagosasun.com/cpw-seeks-input-on-elk-management-plans/ Tue, 28 Jan 2020 12:00:28 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195978 By Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Special to The SUN

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is seeking public input on updating the management plans for the elk herds in Cortez/Dolores (E-24), Durango (E-30) and Pagosa Springs (E-31).
In an effort to give people an opportunity to learn about elk management and provide input, CPW is conducting three separate public meetings within the vicinity of each management unit:
• Pagosa Springs (E-31: GMUs 77, 78 and 771): Meeting will be on Feb. 6 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Archuleta County Extension office.
• Cortez/Dolores (E-24: GMUs 70, 71, 711, 72 and 73): Meeting will be on Feb. 4 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Dolores Community Center.
• Durango (E-30: GMUs 74 and 741): Meeting will be on Feb. 13 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the La Plata County Fairgrounds (upstairs).
Elk Management Plans are revised approximately every 10 years. Public input provides guidance to wildlife managers who attempt to balance the biological capabilities of the herd and its habitat with the public’s demand for wildlife recreational opportunities. These Herd Management Plans drive important decisions, which include the license-setting process, as well as strategies and techniques to reach population objectives.
People are welcome to attend any of the meetings. Each meeting will provide an opportunity for the public to provide input on any or all of the plans.
For further information about the process and meetings, call 248-0855.

]]>
Youngsters make meatballs at Seeds of Learning http://www.pagosasun.com/youngsters-make-meatballs-at-seeds-of-learning/ Tue, 28 Jan 2020 12:00:12 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195822 By Ursala Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW

After washing up and donning oversized plastic gloves, the 4-year-olds in the Seeds of Learning Ladybug classroom began forming the beginnings of their morning snack in the palms of their hands. Culinary chef, native Pagosan and Ladybug mother Nikki Macomber led the week’s cooking lesson on how to whip up authentic meatballs using a simple yet flavorful recipe straight from Italy.
Some of the playdough hobbyists masterfully rolled the mush into light, uniform balls, while others were satisfied with simply getting their patted meat onto the baking pan before it fell apart. They lined up the balls into the straightest rows they could manage and Macomber slid the pans in the school oven to bake — just long enough for a little play break before snack time.
After witnessing only the finest and freshest ingredients get grated, chopped, crumbled and folded in the big steel bowl — and skillfully baked by a credible mom — each child boldly tasted the warm creations as soon as they were plated in front of them. A couple boys speculated that they tasted an awful lot like blueberries, the majority recognized the fresh Parmesan flavor and everyone agreed that they were worth devouring to the last crumb.
On a regular basis, parents and community members visit the various classrooms at Seeds with unique lessons from their area of expertise. From art and music projects, to science and naturalism, the children are exposed to hands-on experiences that spark further inquiry and broaden their perspectives.
Seeds of Learning is a nonprofit, high-quality early child care and education center in Pagosa Springs. If you are interested in learning more about the center, please call 264-5513 or visit www.growingseeds.org for more information and a tour of the center.

]]>