Honky Tonkin’ with The Frisco Canyon Ramblers

By Connie Vigil Platt

Cowboys have always been known as hard riding, hard working men. They are also known to be ready and willing to have a good time. Being accustomed to the rhythms of a horse, they are naturally good dancers. They also appreciate a lively foot-tapping tune.

Singing cowboys best describes the musical group once known as The Frisco Canyon Ramblers, as most of the band members also had day jobs as working cowboys.

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Random Thoughts

You don’t have to be a baseball fan, or even a Brad Pitt fan (I know you’re out there) to enjoy the movie Moneyball. It’s about the underdog 2002 Oakland As and their general manager’s unconventional methods of building a winning ball team. Apart from the high quality of the film, I was also struck by the two trailers leading up to it. One was for the upcoming One for the Money, based on mystery writer Janet Evanovich’s main protagonist, Stephanie Plum, the Trenton, N.J.-based bounty hunter. The other was for a film entitled Haywire, directed by Steven Soderbergh, about a female covert operative who had been set up and is out for revenge. It’s great to see women in the role of protagonists instead of just eye candy or props for leading men.

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Twenty Years of Making Music: The Alpine Orchestra

By Wendy Oliver

When I first moved to Buena Vista, I expected to gain a traffic-free life in the mountains while losing out on performing arts. Three months later, I attended the 1999 Alpine Orchestra’s Christmas concert and discovered a high caliber community orchestra right in the Upper Arkansas Valley. By January, I’d dusted off my oboe and joined both the Orchestra and the pit band for the local production of Brigadoon. More than a decade and a hundred performances later, I’m still impressed with the depth of talent in our small communities.

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Ghostly stories

By Hal Walter

Believe in ghosts? I suppose I’m inclined to, mainly because I’ve had a few spooky experiences that apparently defy logic. In the spirit of Halloween and Day of the Dead, here’s a recount of some these events, and lest you think I’m making this stuff up, rest assured I’m really just not this creative.

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Solar Leasing and PPAs

By Jim Williams and Curtis Scheib

Things are changing radically in the solar electric industry. Dramatic price decreases in the cost of solar electric panels within the last several years means solar is getting closer to grid parity in many parts of the country. Grid parity is when the costs of installing a solar electric system can compete with the utility electric rates that you pay over the life of the system without rebates or subsidies. Oddly, the other extreme change is the normalization of both the use and financing of residential and small business solar installations.

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Restaurant Review

Sugar and Spice Mountain Bakery
411 Main St.
Westcliffe, Colorado 719)783-4045

by Ann Marie Swan

Westcliffe has been blessed with Sugar and Spice Mountain Bakery, a Mennonite family-owned business with the redeeming quality of using sugar judiciously.

Naomi Yoder, who owns the Main Street bakery with her husband, Jason, says she only uses “real ingredients” and unbleached flour, just like her mother did. “We bake here like we would at home,” Yoder said.

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On the College Path: Mt. Yale

By Ladd Stevens

I grew up in the fifties and sixties. Back in those days, not everyone who graduated from high school went to college. Some of my classmates went into the trades: you know, became plumbers, carpenters, electricians. While it was important that you got a good education and learned your three R’s – reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic – there was no guarantee about going to college or even that going to college was necessarily better than apprenticing yourself to a master tradesman. People to build your houses and office buildings were as important as someone to teach your kids. Maybe it was the post World War mentality: Everyone pitched in and did what needed to be done to help America get back on its feet and prosper.

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Modern Mayberry in Downtown Buena Vista?

By Jennifer Dempsey

When John Grove and Shawn Woodrum took over the State Highway building at 402 Main Street in Buena Vista a year and a half ago, they weren’t exactly sure what the 5,000 square foot warehouse would become.

“We’ve just basically done it by the seat of our pants,” said Grove, 45. “If we had had a business plan it would have changed every other month. We knew we wanted a place that would cater to all walks of life. We wanted this to be a big umbrella that includes everybody in the community, like a modern Mayberry.”

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A Gift for the Future

By Susan Tweit

More than a decade ago, when Richard and I began restoring our “dream place,” the formerly blighted industrial property bounded by the thread of channelized creek where we live, we had no plan, no budget, and no real concept of how much work lay ahead. We did have a vision of healing the land and its degraded creek, reestablishing the community of the land right in town, and a comfortable sense of time in which to do the work.

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News from the San Luis Valley

By Patty LaTaille

Journalist Allegedly Attacked

A temporary protective order alleging physical and possible sexual assault was filed on a former Saguache County Commissioner and current Center school board candidate after an incident Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Saguache County Courthouse.

County Planning Commission Chairman and Center School Board candidate Bill McClure allegedly attacked Center Post-Dispatch reporter Teresa Benns in the Land Use Office.

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Regional News Roundup

Western May Seek University Designation

GUNNISON – Administrators at Western State College (WSC) in Gunnison are considering changing the title of the school to ‘university.’

The idea was discussed with WSC faculty and staff in late September. College president Jay Helman cited the establishment of a graduate program, capital improvement projects at the college in recent years, and success in private fundraising as several indicators towards the new title, according to the Gunnison Country Times.

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By Ed Quillen

One of the obscure pleasures of life in a little mountain town is the occasional dose of isolation. It snows all day with strong wind. The roads are closed, the phone and power lines go down. You have no idea what’s going on in the rest of the world, and you don’t really care because you couldn’t get there anyway. You’re just playing cribbage at home by lantern light while a wood fire cheers and warms.

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Dispatch from the Edge

By Peter Anderson

The Free box outgrew itself. Now it’s a shed on the edge of town, roof rimmed with windworn Tibetan prayer flags, old mattress leaning up against front wall spray painted with the words “No dumping.” The cardboard box from our garage contains some lightly used fairy wings – still the rage in preschool fashion – and bench seat covers from Autozone, which won’t add to the clutter for long. But I worry about the mini John Deere tractor/sprinkler taking up shelf space, since it’s November and a big winter front will soon bury the few lawns in town.

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Book Reviews

Mercury’s Rise
by Ann Parker
Published in 2011 by Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN 978-1-69058-961-8

Reviewed by Ed Quillen

You could say that Ann Parker is an elemental writer, or maybe a metallic one, given her book titles. Mercury Rising is the fourth in a series that includes Silver Lies, Iron Ties, and Leaden Skies. All feature the adventures of Inez Stannert, a partner in the Silver Queen Saloon in the boomtown Leadville of 1880.

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Down on the Ground with Jobs and Life

By George Sibley

“Employer wanted.” We saw that sign in Missouri, along US 36 – a good “heartland” road: if you laid a ruler on the map with Denver at one end and Indianapolis at the other, you’d see a line already there, US 36. Interstate 80 runs above it, Interstate 70 below, if you want to zip past and avoid it all, but if you want to go through the so-called heartland, US 36 is a good transect. A lot of it is still two-lane blacktop through Kansas, but it’s a fast two-lane with very little traffic, so long as you keep watch for the occasional tractor the size of a dinosaur traveling 17 mph.

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Duncan, Colorado – The Story of a Short-Lived Town on the Edge of the Great Sand Dunes

Story and photos by Kenneth Jessen

There are well over 1,500 ghost towns in Colorado. Many are abandoned mining camps spread out over the western half of the state. Among the most obscure is Duncan, located along the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

The history of Duncan started in 1874 when John Duncan followed an old trail over Medano Pass into the San Luis Valley. At the mouth of Pole Creek, he discovered some “float,” or gold-bearing ore, that had washed down from the mountains. He constructed a durable cabin made of hand-hewn logs locked tightly together with corner notches. As word got out other prospectors were attracted to the area, and in 1890 a town grew up around his cabin. Duncan then turned from prospector to town promoter, laid out the town of Duncan, and sold lots for $25 each.

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