By John Mattingly

We don’t choose our family – not in the same way we find best friends.

There are some who believe we do choose our family by way of interbreeding during past lives, or by subtle shifts in the fifth membrane of the universe, or through a vibrational command of DNA polymerase.

But, based on a preponderance of personal evidence, I conclude that I did not choose my family. It was a random outcome that I was born. And though speculations to the contrary have modest appeal from time to time, I’m sticking with the conclusion that my family is a chance assembly of folks, some of whom I would love or be friends with even if I had met them as strangers, and some of whom I have to wonder if we actually share a genetic history of any consequence.

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By Polly Oberosler

My paternal grandfather, John Sherman Moses Cranor, born in 1864, was a sixth-generation American and worked at whatever he could to make a living, as did most during his time. In doing so, he inadvertently schooled his five children in lessons of resourcefulness, honesty and hard work that they soon needed. My grandmother died in the 1918 flu epidemic, and they were virtually on their own quite prematurely.

Those young people were the movers and shakers of a generation of Americans unparalleled in history. They came from the era of the horse and buggy, yet crossed the lines and adapted to the most accelerated portion of industrial expansion. They absorbed incredible knowledge and savvy about anything or any piece of equipment as it was manufactured and put to use in the fields, on the dam projects or on the highways.

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Dry Times in the High Desert: The Hill Ranch

By Ron Sering

Rights to irrigate the area known today as Hill Ranch predate Chaffee County by more than a decade. Decreed in 1868, the rights permitted diversion of water for agriculture and ranching. And so it remained for more than a century, even after sale of the rights by the Hill family to Western Water Rights Limited Liability Partnership in 1986.

That all changed with the subsequent sale of the rights to the Pueblo West Metropolitan District (PWMD) in 2008. The PWMD, home to nearly 30,000 thirsty people, needed the rights to fuel a growth rate that remains among the fastest in the state. The rights are significant, totaling nearly 1,900 acre feet of water. An acre foot totals nearly 326,000 gallons. Under the decree, the rights would convert from agricultural to municipal. Included in the terms was the cessation of irrigation activities. The land would be dried up and restored to its pre-irrigation state.

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