It’s 2018 and the Struggle Continues

By Martha Quillen

never believed in the possibility of universal peace and understanding, but I went to college in the late 1960s when students clamored for peace, equality, black rights, women’s rights, grape workers’ rights … And I believed things would improve. Fifty years later it’s clear that raging, marching, rioting, and otherwise flouting authority may not be the best way to champion fairness and endow all people with liberty, equality and justice. But negotiation, compromise and cooperation aren’t working either.

So now what?

In January, local resident Monika Griesenbeck applied for the Salida City Clerk position. In a preliminary vote, the council approved her four to two, and several of the new members said nice things about her. I saw that as a clear indication that Salida’s new mayor and council were going to put rivalries behind them and serve everyone. And I thought that was great.

But I was wrong. During the last six or eight years, Salida has fostered two opposing camps that tend to be bitterly divided. Last fall Griesenbeck and several associates who share advertising and ideas ran for city council and lost en masse. But two years earlier, the same contingent won en masse.

I was afraid our town was fated to yo-yo back and forth forever. Then for one whole day I thought, Salidans were finally going to work things out. But scores of angry opponents weighed in, demanding to know why Monika should get a political position after they defeated her, and Alisa Pappenfort was appointed city clerk.

I’d hoped Monika’s appointment could spur some healing, but I’ll admit it was a long shot. Monika and some of the council members are old rivals and probably would have had difficulty working together. But I feel for Monika and her supporters – who wrote lovely letters praising the council’s initial decision. They are doubtlessly disappointed and justifiably upset. This is the sort of thing that makes sectarian fissures widen, especially considering how hostile local political correspondence has gotten in recent years.

I was excited about the council’s acceptance of Monika’s application, but my view had nothing to do with Alisa. I’ve known Monika and Alisa for decades, and they’re both smart, tough, hard-working and reliable – and they have both been very good friends to me. I would have preferred either one of them over dozens of council members I remember.

Read more

Down on the Ground with Two Americas

By George Sibley

In the beginning all the world was America … – John Locke, 1689

That these United States are not very united today seems obvious.

We’ve seen the red and blue map from the 2016 election: the blue urban islands that concentrate four fifths of the nation’s population, in a rural red sea over which the remaining fifth is spread. It’s also evident that the red sea has risen to wash over many once-blue urban-industrial places abandoned by their industries, and has also lapped up into the suburbs where urbanites live who don’t want to live in the urb.

The blue islands and the red sea might be two distinct Americas – separate cultures, each with its own beliefs and a shrinking area of shared values and goals. We could even say that each of the Americas elected its own president in 2016 – the metropolitan cities gave Hillary Clinton a popular majority, and the non-metro regions gave Donald Trump the Electoral College – which under the Constitution trumps the popular vote. But in his continued obsessive attacks on Clinton, Trump – the consummate gold-plated metropolitan himself – is behaving as though he were confronting the leader of a foreign power.

What we tend to avoid in all this is just how far back in our history this two-Americas problem might go. We want to think that we have, like the Pledge says, been one nation until recently. But I think a close and non-nostalgic look at our history shows that, while we’ve had episodes of domestic tranquility on the daily surface of life, the hairline cracks have always been there, with someone from one America or the other episodically driving in a big wedge, unleashing that uncompromising violence of faction that was the Founding Brothers’ greatest fear for fragile democracy.

I think this, like so much of our culture, goes all the way back to 18th-century England and Europe.

Read more

Warm Winters

By John Mattingly

The most common “thoughts and prayers” during an unseasonably warm winter are mixed between taking advantage of the warm weather and the perennial concern in the West for snowpack and water supply.

Having farmed for over forty years, I’ve spent most of my life outside, where luck and livelihood depended on the weather. My memories and records of the weather are testimonial and cover a de minimis time period, but suggest warm winters have come along about two out of five winters since 1968. There have been several Januaries during which I had to suppress the temptation to plant wheat, and one January, in 1976, when I did plant wheat, it went on to be harvested in June. “You got away with one,” an old timer told me.

Maybe. In recent years, as noted in a prior column, winter wheat (Hard Red Winter Wheat), is becoming common in places that were previously too cold. And, ironically, this should signal that we may need to “get away with one” (or two) if Earth’s climate changes in ways less favorable to mammals. We know this is a possibility; we see evidence accruing, and recent storms have both stimulated probity and caused many to bury their head in a pew.

Ed Quillen wrote a piece years ago articulating problems with mobilizing today to prevent or influence outcomes that manifest several generations in the future: (a) it’s hard enough for 7.6 billion people to secure their daily bread and shelter, let alone change their behavior to benefit the still unborn, (b) many of the necessary sacrifices are required of those least capable of making them, and finally (c) the difficulty of arbitrating fairness between those who probably contributed to the problem and those who may deserve extra credit for prior restraint or inability.

Read more

The Homelake Veterans History Center Museum

By Jane Rhett Homelake Veterans History Center Museum is located on the site of the Colorado Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home, now the Colorado State Veterans Center at Homelake just east of Monte Vista in the San Luis Valley. The Home was established in 1889 at the behest of the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) …

Read more

Book review: Manyhorses Traveling

Manyhorses Traveling By Diane Sawatzki Palmer Divide Productions Paper 223 pp $14.00/Kindle $4.95 Reviewed by Annie Dawid Manyhorses Traveling begins just as the narrative of Diane Sawatzki’s previous book, Once Upon Another Time (2012) ends. The new novel can stand on its own, but provides more pleasure as a sequel to the first book. Both …

Read more

Big Project

By Mike Rosso

In January 2017, I left the country and spent almost two weeks exploring parts of Guatemala. Being away from the U.S., as well as being a minority with a very limited knowledge of the local language, is always humbling but very gratifying. I love seeing how folks in other cultures interact and live their lives. I enjoy the sights, the smells, and also hearing random dialog in an unfamiliar tongue. It’s easy to get caught in the bubble of U.S. culture, especially living in a remote and isolated place such as Salida, and sometimes a trip overseas helps to pop that bubble.

This past January found me much closer to home and I’ve been taking advantage of dry weather hikes, a ski pass, and my temporary living situation on 40 wooded acres, twelve miles north of Salida for some R and R. The reason I’ve got temporary digs has to do with an unlikely conversation which took place last March, and has led to big and exciting changes.

It was at a casual gathering at the home of Kirby and Margo Perschbacher when my friend Bebe Plotz brought up the idea of my buying a parcel of land she had for sale just south of Salida. My offhand reply was “I’ll buy your lot if Kirby will build me a house.” Kirby is the owner of Oak Construction, a Chaffee County native, and he and Margo are big supporters of this magazine.

Though the suggestion was made in a slightly tongue-in-cheek manner, it seemed providence was shining on us all, and within a month I had a verbal agreement with both Bebe and Kirby to move forward to make the idea a reality. Of course, High Country Bank had a say in whether this was even feasible, given my career as a regional magazine publisher doesn’t put me in very high income bracket, but they looked at the equity in my existing home – purchased in 2004 before Salida’s real estate boom – plus my own credit record and decided I was worth the risk and signed off on a land and construction loan.

Not wanting to take a chance on a fickle economy, I put my town house on the market in September, and had it sold by early December. Getting moved out (not to mention getting out the December issue) proved to be quite demanding after 13 years of habitation, but I’ve been blessed to have been offered to live in my current location by a dear old friend, MA, until late- Spring, when my new house should be completed.

Read more

About the Cover Photograph

This group photo of gold miners in front of a large log cabin near the town of Granite, Colorado, shows horses, a wagon, and a miner sitting on a Kuner Pickle Company barrel. It was taken between 1890 and 1900 by Charles W. (C.W.) Erdlen (1857-1935) and was provided to us by the Western History …

Read more

At What Cost?

By Hal Walter I’ve followed with keen interest a case in which parents sued Colorado’s Douglas County School District to pay tuition after pulling their autistic son from the public system and placing him in a $70,000-per-year private school for special-needs kids. The parents claimed the district did not provide adequate education for their child, …

Read more

Keeping Online – Colorado Central Telecom

By Mike Rosso

It was over a decade into the 21st century and the town of Crestone was struggling to keep up with the modern era. At a time when most of the urban United States, as well as many rural communities were becoming more and more dependent on the internet for work, news, commerce, and entertainment, the small community at the base of the Sangre De Cristo mountains in the San Luis Valley was not getting the needed bandwidth for basic internet service from its sole provider.

Ralph Abrams, then mayor of Crestone, was concerned the lack of workable bandwidth was discouraging newcomers and causing some residents to leave.

“We were getting half a meg at best,” Abrams said.

That’s when local citizens decided to take matters into their own hands. Their biggest challenge was finding the startup capital to take on a project of this magnitude. A grassroots effort was started to raise community funding, as well as help from a Small Business Administration loan arranged through the Collegiate Peaks Bank. Several grants were also helpful in the company’s expansion, including one from the State Broadband Deployment Fund and from Freeport-McMoRan Inc., the owners of the Climax Mine in Leadville.

“We started with 58 local investors, including contributions from our CEO and other staff members. We have since repaid our original investors, though a handful opted to hold onto their stake in the company,” Abrams explained.

He used this capital to start Crestone Telecom, employing a tower to send broadband signals to homes and businesses as a wireless internet service provider in Crestone. Its first customer came online in April 2012.

“Our first tower was located just outside the town limits of Crestone, due east of the Baca [subdivision]. We call it the ‘Aspen’ tower,” said Abrams.

The initial success led the company to expand its coverage area to the northern San Luis Valley and eventually into the Upper Arkansas River Valley with the encouragement of the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) whose board considered broadband its number one priority, according to its director, Wendell Pryor. “The CCEDC was helpful in facilitating and connecting the dots for the young business,” he said.

Read more

Eye on the Fifth

By Daniel Smith

The political season usually gets in gear in March of election years with local caucuses, district and state assemblies as well as primary balloting to determine who gets on the November election ballot.

In the Fifth Congressional District, thus far there are three Democrats and three Republicans lined up to challenge Republican incumbent Doug Lamborn. More candidates are possible before the March 20 filing deadline.

The Democrats include Stephanie Rose Spaulding, a Colorado College professor and pastor; Betty Field, a former non-profit director and local activist; and Lori Furstenberg, a recent candidate who is a retail store owner. All are relative political newcomers and residents of Colorado Springs, seat of the lion’s share of district influence because of its population size.

The Republican challengers consist of more politically experienced candidates, including State Senator Owen Hill, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, Bill Rhea, a former Texas district judge and missionary, and Lamborn, the ten-year incumbent.

Hill is considered a rising force in the GOP ranks while Glenn ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Senator Michael Bennet last election cycle.

Rhea describes himself as the “distinctly centrist” Republican candidate for the congressional race.

Lamborn is a hard-core Republican in a majority GOP district that is considered “safe” in some political assessments, but he has faced primary challengers often before, and even criticism from within his own party ranks.

Lamborn stood in opposition to the creation of Browns Canyon National Monument, stating at the time of the debate over the decade-long local effort to preserve the area that all interests, including extractive industries and ranchers, had not been fully represented.

Read more

Cañon City’s Famous Dinosaur

By Virginia McConnell Simmons Meet Stegosaurus stenops, Colorado’s state fossil. The local popularity of dinosaurs is evident at Cañon City, where prison inmates created a large model of a Stegosaurus several years ago. It became a familiar mascot, once seen on the east side of town and later moved to the Fremont Campus of Pueblo …

Read more