Book Review

The Legend of Benjamin Ratcliff: From Family Tragedy to Legacy of Resilience
by Chris O. Andrew

Published in 2011 by the author
ISBN 078-193266786-8

Reviewed by Ed Quillen

It’s a safe bet that most family trees have some branches that nobody much wants to talk about, but few have a branch like this one. Benjamin Ratcliff, a Civil War veteran and rancher in South Park, shot and killed three members of his local school board on May 6, 1895.

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Dispatch from the Edge

By Peter Anderson

Eastbound clouds stall out over the high peaks of the Sangres. Others, low and gray, drape the big valley sky to the west. It is a restless season. I imagine the bears are on the move … such a fierce hunger before the big sleep, and the rose hips are ripe. A bull elk climbs slopes so thick with pinyon and juniper, it’s hard to guide his big rack through the branches. He is moving away from last night’s smoke, the hunter’s fire. And he is moving away from my wife Grace and I, who are walking and talking quietly on the trail below him, watching the white dog as he noses through a pile of old cow bones.

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Quillen’s Corner

by Martha Quillen

I’ve been reading about rational markets and the Efficient Markets Hypothesis recently. Well, actually I started reading about basic economics about fifteen years ago after I realized that there was something really crazy about small-town financial planning.

And my overwhelming conclusion after fifteen years? Fiscal policy is screwy at every level.

Community planning was the rage in the 1990s, especially comprehensive planning, which encouraged citizens to consider everything simultaneously: financial development, infrastructure, zoning, parks, recreation, industry, utilities, education, et al.

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Under the Truffula Tree – A look at Population Growth in the 21st Century

By Bill Hatcher

“And in no time at all, in the factory I built,
the whole Once-ler family was working full-tilt.
We were all knitting thneeds, just as busy as bees,
to the sound of the chopping of Truffula trees.” – Dr. Seuss

How many people can you fit under a Truffula tree? If your first response is to knot your eyebrows, scratch your head, and ask, “What the hell is a Truffula tree?” please let me explain.

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Not The Queen of Patience

By Susan Tweit

As anyone who knows me knows very well, I am NOT the Queen of Patience. So on days like today, when Richard’s brain is just not working well, I have to remind myself that his company in my life is a gift.

Which I do … As I turn out the lights behind him, and wipe up the water he spilled all over the floor as he carefully and precisely filled up his water bottle to exactly the rim – and then tipped it as he carried it across the kitchen, never noticing the water trailing behind.

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Water Update

 by John Orr

Summitville Clean Up

It’s been nearly 20 years since the Environmental Protection Agency started cleanup efforts at the Summitville Mine. Runoff from the former open pit gold mine and its cyanide leach field was blamed for killing all aquatic life in the Alamosa River.

In early September the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment held a dedication ceremony for a new water treatment plant at the site. CPDHE executive director Chris Urbina told those assembled, “This project provided more than a 100 construction jobs in this area, and significantly improved water quality, restoring fish and aquatic life to the Alamosa River and Terrace Reservoir,” according to The Pueblo Chieftain.

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Regional News Roundup

Subdivision on the Auction Block

BUENA VISTA – The Cottonwood Meadows Subdivision in Buena Vista is going on the auction block September 30.

The subdivision has been plagued with problems since its conception by developer John Cogswell. The proposed 274-acre project called for 715 new residences and 110 acres of open space. Annexation of the land to the town of Buena Vista was approved by town council but a petition drive was launched by members of the community to put the issue to a public vote and the annexation was narrowly defeated. The subdivision application was resubmitted and approved in November 2009 and opposition to the plan resurfaced (see the January 2010 Colorado Central).

In 2010 Cogswell filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy under Lonesome Pine Holdings, LLC. On Aug. 23, town trustees approved a motion to disconnect the development from the town.

The subdivision will be divided into parcels for the auction.

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Restorative Justice

Supporting Victims of Crime and Lowering Offender Recidivism

By Patty LaTaille

August 10, 2011 was an historic day for Restorative Justice in the state of Colorado. Restorative Justice House Bill 11-1032 went into effect, having been signed by Governor Hickenlooper earlier in July. This law requires that victims of crimes be informed of their right to use restorative processes, allowing for victim-initiated restorative justice only. Restorative Justice involves a fostering of dialogue betwfaction, true accountability by the oeen the offender and the victim, and has shown the highest rates of victim satisffender, and reduced recidivism.

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Just Say No? Opponents of ‘Over the River’ Speak Out

By Greg Felt and Ellen Bauder

In 1992, Christo Javacheff had a vision. In it, he saw translucent polypropylene fabric panels suspended above a river as it flowed through a spectacular Western landscape. Studying maps, he considered several potential locations before settling on the Bighorn Sheep Canyon of the Arkansas. There he found soaring canyon walls and a well-watered river, a corridor with highway access on one side and a railroad on the other, towns at both ends that embraced a future in the arts, and a proximity to population centers and airports. With the wide following and notoriety generated by his previous projects, Mr. Javacheff took his vision to the street, sharing it with politicians and bureaucrats, art world luminaries, local boosters … anyone who would listen. He painted a picture of a “whimsical” and “temporary” work of art, an exhibition that would connect people with nature. And when asked by the curious about impacts to the environment, he denied that there would be any. “We leave our sites in better condition than we found them” became the project’s mantra. For those who’ve only heard the vision, it sounds great. But where the vision ends and reality begins, it’s a whole different story.

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News from the San Luis Valley

by Patty LaTaille

Murderers Nabbed In Alamosa

On May 6, 2011, Jerry Roberts of Arlington County, Texas, was reported missing.

According to The Valley Courier, “Investigators found a bloody chair at Roberts’ home, and his refrigerator and truck were missing.”

On July 4, “a man and his son were out in a rural part of Ellis County, Texas, with metal detectors when they came across a taped up refrigerator. They removed the tape, opened the door and found a body, which has now been identified as Jerry Roberts.”

On June 7, a man driving the missing Roberts’ truck flagged down an Alamosa patrolman and asked for the location of the local parole office.

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“We Do”

By Jennifer Dempsey


This summer I was walking up F Street in Salida when I ran into Missy and Heather. I knew the women only slightly, had never had a real conversation with either, but that day they were radiating such happiness, I had to stop and say hello.

“How are you gals?” I asked.

They were holding hands, beaming, grinning ear to ear.

“We’re great,” Missy said, smiling at Heather. “We got married yesterday!”

“Congratulations!” I said automatically, then paused and thought, “what does that mean?”

“What does that mean?” I asked dumbly.

The women smiled at each other again.

“Nothing to the state of Colorado,” Missy answered, “but everything to us.”

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Restaurant Review

Garlic Mike’s
2674 Hwy 135
Gunnison, Colorado

Reviewed by Elliot Jackson

I confess that since moving to the Gunnison Valley earlier this year, I haven’t taken as much advantage as I might like of the multiple opportunities to dine out that the area offers. Part of this is due to time crunch, as I spend a lot of time working at odd hours; part of it is financial – probably all Colorado Central readers can relate to that one. And, somewhat related to the money-and-time-crunch issues is another one, that I have only recently identified to myself, which basically boils down to this: if I’m going to spend the time and money to go out to eat, I want to feel reasonably assured that what I’m ordering is going to be a better specimen of meal – be it omelette, salad, burrito, or steak and potato dinner – than I can make myself at home.

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The Postal Blues

It’s hard to read a newspaper or watch the news these days without hearing about the supposed dire situation at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Although, like much information being disseminated by the powers that be in federal government, there is much to be skeptical about with the numbers and warnings being broadcast.

There is indeed a fiscal problem with the USPS. They’ve taken quite a hit the last few years, mostly with the advent of e-mail and our ability to send and pay bills online. The USPS supports itself primarily by the sale of stamps. Taxpayer dollars do not subsidize it. But, even with the decline of revenue the USPS, by implementing cost-cutting measures; downsizing its workforce and gaining concessions from its unions, still manages to break even. How many federal governmental agencies can claim that?

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Too Big to Succeed

By John Mattingly

I’ve always thought of farming, ranching, and mining as fundamentally related activities.

The mining museum in Leadville tells us that nothing happens until someone digs something, or pulls something, out of the ground. Though farmers aren’t usually thought of as digging things out of the ground, they dig spuds, sugar beets, carrots, and other root crops. Farming is a process by which minerals are mined from the topsoil through plants with a farmer’s guiding hand.

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By Mark Kneeskern

I am standing in front of a tower covered in brassieres.

My friends drove me here to Green Bay, Wisconsin from Portage, shuttling me part of the way north towards my intended destination: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. My vision for this adventure is to camp in the woods and make daily expeditions to wild beaches, climbing 300-foot banks to the Great Sable “raised dunes,” swimming naked in the cold surf of the freshwater lake (ocean, really) we call “Superior,” hitchhiking and gathering new stories for my book.

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