May is the time for spring cleaning

By Roberta Tolan

SUN Columnist

It’s time to clean out the dust of winter and ready our homes for spring and summer. In our household when I grew up, one weekend in May was always reserved for spring cleaning; the time when windows and screens were washed, rugs were cleaned, porch furniture was retrieved from winter storage and spring clothes were washed and hung for wear. I still do some of these things, but probably not enough.

But one cleaning project I am doing this spring and have been intending to do for years is clean out our file cabinet, stuffed too full with old, outdated papers, utility bills from previous homes and medical records on pets no longer with us. I have always worried about someone stealing my personal identity if I threw out or recycled these old papers, and I was dreading the nights by the shredding machine. But now, on May 14 from 4-6 p.m. at the downtown Citizens Bank parking lot, each Archuleta County resident can bring up to three boxes of papers to be shredded safely on site for only $5 per box. Before you shred, it is important to know what papers should be kept and for how long.

The following information was taken from the Colorado State University Extension fact sheet 9.165 “Your Important Papers: What, Why and How Long to Keep,” written by N. Porter and L. Kubin, and can be found in its entirety at the Extension website

Regardless of how records are stored, regular filing and review of documents is important. Making the decision on when to discard old files is often difficult. Documents that should be kept permanently are:

• Church records: baptismal, confirmation membership.

• Education records: diplomas, professional certificates, professional licenses, transcripts.

• Genealogy records.

• Health records: immunization records, medical history and information, organ donor card.

• Income and employment records: employee benefit information, pension records from prior employers.

• Employee benefit information: six years to permanently.

• Income tax records: six years to permanently.

• Personal documents: birth certificates, adoption papers, marriage license, divorce papers, alimony, child support awards, military service, veteran’s benefits, passports, Social Security documents, driver’s license numbers, death certificates, citizenship and naturalization papers, copyrights, patents.

• Property records: six years or permanently.

• Wills: copy of will, trust documents, letter of last instructions, durable power of attorney, medical directives, list of locations of important documents, names, contact information of personal and legal advisers, burial lot deeds.

Because every household may have unique situations, you may want to keep documents other than those listed above permanently. Due to the danger of identity theft, consider destroying any documents you decide are outdated. It is important to shred any documents which contain your name, address, Social Security number, debit/credit card numbers or other sensitive financial information.

Other things to keep in mind when you are going through your documents include:

• A systematic plan for keeping track of important documents can save you hours of anxious searching for misplaced items.

• It is important to carefully store valuable papers which would be difficult or time consuming to replace. These hard-to-replace documents are ideally kept in a safe deposit box or a fire-proof, water-proof, burglar-proof home safe or lock box.

• Electronically stored records must be legible, readable and accessible for the period of limitations required. It is important to back up electronic files in case of a computer malfunction.

• Wherever you live, there is always the risk of fires, floods and other disasters and your home and important documents could be totally destroyed. Assemble a “grab-and-go” emergency bucket, box, tote, backpack or electronic storage device to have available on short notice.

Wildfire mitigation


Learn how to create a defensible space around your home, operate a chainsaw correctly and safely manage the oak brush around your home. To register for these free educational workshops or for more information, call the Extension office at 264-5931. Workshop dates and topics are as follows:

• May 8 and June 19, 10 a.m-noon: On-site Defensible Space Workshop.

These on-site workshops will take you through the steps to create a wildfire defensible space around your home and structures. Two locations in Archuleta County will be identified as workshop sites.

• May 29, 10 a.m.-noon: Chainsaw Safety, CSU Extension Building, Archuleta County Fairgrounds.

Operating a chain saw can be dangerous. Learn to operate this important tool safely and maintain it for optimum efficiency.

• June 26, 10 a.m.-noon: On-site oak brush management workshop.

Gambel oak is one of our most common and prolific shrubs. Learn how to manage this shrub for greater wildfire prevention. A location within the county will be identified for this hands-on training.

Seed potatoes being sold

Orders are now being taken for Colorado certified seed potatoes. Varieties being sold for only 50 cents per pound are Sangre (red), Purple Majesty (blue), the standard Yukon Gold (white) and Mountain Rose (pink). Approximately 2 pounds will plant a 10-foot row. To place your order, please call the Archuleta County Extension office at 264-5931. Orders may be picked up May 7 and planted after May 11.