Endless gratitude

Dear Crestone Community,

As many of you know I have been diagnosed with stage 4 Melanoma. I received a similar diagnosis 14 years ago and did more than beat the odds, I lived. Things are a lot more serious this time and I spent several of the last months in the hospital in Denver. My prognosis is not encouraging—I was admitted to the hospital with 5 brain tumors and 3 lung tumors. While in the hospital I also suffered an extreme case of diverticulitis which meant yet another surgery. I am currently home recovering from both brain and abdominal surgery and am thrilled to be by North Crestone Creek’s healing waters once again.

As much as I have wanted to thank each of you individually for your support and help during this time, this is an impossible task, as the amount and forms of love you have and continue to send my way are immeasurable. I am still home bound so it is not likely that we will have a post office run in any time soon.

I wanted to publish this note of gratitude for all that each of you are doing to help me during this time. I am stuck in the loop of the administrative nightmare and have yet to receive any government assistance. My medical care  expenses per month and being unable to work is a challenge to say the least. There is a donation box set up at The Bliss and any and all contributions help me get by.  Thank you to all who have already contributed to this fund. My understanding is that the YES program also has a donation situation set up but I am not sure of the logistics of how this works, so I recommend calling them for more info. Other ways to help is to sign up to deliver meals at: www.foodtidings.com. If you are having trouble setting up an account with the site, you can  contact Marina at 719-937-1059, and she will help get you scheduled.

Again, thank you for all that you have been and continue to do to help me on this journey. I am beyond blessed to be surrounded by so much love in my life. My dream is to beat the odds again and recover so that I can shower you back with oceans of love as you are doing for me right now.

In humility & endless gratitude,



Thank You

Dear Editor,

After having my wonderful show at Shumei, I wanted to give special thanks to a few particular people: My Mor, because she’s awesome and the best mom in the world. Marika Popovits, for teaching me (or leading me to) everything I know. David Reid-Marr, for pushing me and fighting with me. Lynn Drake, for introducing me to the wonderful medium of clay. Mirage Cafe, for displaying and selling some of my work. Blue Earth Designs, for giving me a surface to paint on. Desert Sage Restaurant for hosting my fundraiser in 2011 (I wouldn’t be here or anywhere otherwise). Deana and Shumei, for answering the 19,000 questions I had and allowing me to have my first real show.

And of course anyone and everyone that contributed in any way.

Thank you!

Zienna Brunsted Stewart


Crestone EMTs rock!

Dear Editor,

I would like to express my sincerest appreciation for the four EMTs that saved my life!  Chris Botz and Pam Gripp who immediately arrived in the ambulance, called for backup and the other two gracious EMTs who met us in Mosca to assist Chris and followed us to the Alamosa Hospital.  I realized how challenging it is to get an IV installed in a person with really low blood pressure and no protruding veins.  Good work guys.  Your compassion and diligence kept me feeling safe and alive.  All the helpers in the emergency room were kind and caring.  Special thanks to Robin Rosenberg who called 911 recognizing when I couldn’t, that I needed emergency care.  Gratitude for Tim Brenner who came to the hospital to pray with me, support me, and bring me home.   Thanks to Marjorie Levin for watching over Brandon and being willing to care for him in the event that I didn’t return.  I would also like to acknowledge my wonderful team at the Crestone Music Festival, for trusting in my strength and courage to return and do my  jobs.  And last but not least, a humungous “thank you” to my community for your expressions of love and appreciation of my presence here.  I’m still alive so apparently God is not done with me yet.  I have much to do here in this life and I’m glad to have a second chance to continue.  Actually, I think I have nine lives because I’m like a cat, so I still have a few left.

Blessings to all,



Wildflower kudos

Dear Editor,

Kudos to the Baca Grande Volunteer Fire Department for leaving the gorgeous sunflowers and bee plants in place while enlarging the fire break for which Camino Baca Grande also serves.  It’s a joy to drive through such beautiful colors on both sides of the road.  We must take photos or at least shoot neurochromes to be called out of memory when the snow’s blowing sideways and keeping on the icy road is tricky come January. Hard to believe during our harsh winter months that seed of such glorious color still lives, defying death in the rock hard, frozen soil to unfold again when its season comes.

So, much obliged BGVFD for not clear cutting what’s so pleasant to the eye and too quickly gone.  Your skillful, wise and laborious task is a community service in more ways than property protection.


Bill Ellzey

Yes on 3A, yes to Moffat School

Dear Editor,

I would like to ask for community members to take the time to become truly informed about the long-term repercussions for all residents should 3A not pass. This is the last year that the BEST grant will be offered, and Moffat desparately needs a new school. If any community members are unclear as to why the building was rated 4th worst out of 60 schools that applied for this grant, please go to the Moffat school website (www.moffatschools.org) and click on the short video link titled Building Video. Support the future of the San Luis Valley.  Please vote “YES” on 3A.


Daleth McCoy, Parent


Vote yes!

Dear Editor,

I swore I wouldn’t get involved in one more thing.  Then I heard about the Moffat school and realized we have an opportunity too big to ignore. The school foundation is crumbling. The pipes are rusting out.  Water has been shut off many times and sewage has backed up.  The roof is leaking in multiple places. With a patchwork of 14 different, outdated heating systems, it is expensive and hard to keep the school warm.

In the very near future, this 92-year-old school will be declared unsafe.  If this happens, the economic impact would be incalculable.

Crestone Charter is full to capacity.  New families would be less likely to move here if there isn’t a school.  Families who are already here might leave, if there were no longer a functioning school.

If you own or work in  a local business, work in construction, or care about property values, this directly affects you.  Growth in our area will likely stop and a slow, steady stagnation will set in.

Fortunately, the Moffat School has received a BEST grant from the state.

Here’s what  you need to know: Amazingly it would actually cost us more to repair the old school than build a new one, since the state pays 73% of new building costs.

This is our only chance.  If we vote no in November, another school somewhere else will get the money.  It will cost homeowners less than $4 a month per $100,000 of property value. If you are not a property owner, it doesn’t cost you anything!

If Moffat school is declared unsafe,  the cost to you in property values, lost jobs, community decline, and economic contraction will be far greater.

I haven’t even mentioned the kids.  Imagine their excitement going to a brand new school with great resources.   Research shows that merely improving quality of a school building improves performance.

Vote yes if you care about local jobs and businesses.  Vote yes if you care about property values.  Vote yes if you care about our kids’ future.

Mikela Tarlow

Unhappy with nonprofits

Dear Editor,

My wife and I moved to the Baca Grande area in 2002 believing it to be one of the more placid and affordable areas in Colorado.  For a while it seemed just that but in recent years with various unrelenting tax and fee increases, costs of services, and falling land values we are now considering leaving the area.  Those increases coupled with the high number of burdensome and freeloading non-profits here that the individual tax paying home owner has to carry on his back together has made, for us anyway, an untenable situation. Water and Sanitation, for example, is never satisfied, is always asking for more money, and enough is never enough. The POA has become a complaint driven and vindictive organization pitting neighbor against neighbor and fraught with seemingly endless infighting, to mention just two organizations.   Some of the non-profits seem to make an effort to honestly pursue the goals outlined in their mission statements and at least make an attempt to be a real asset to the community but some others and one large one in particular do nothing except survive off the blood and sweat of, again, the hard working individual taxpayer while their CEO’s travel around in style expounding their fairy tales and collecting donations.   So all in all it’s no wonder the county struggles to find ways to make ends meet and eventually is put in the position of having to raise taxes.  There are just too few of us homeowners to pay them.

William Hauser


Recycle Crestone hiatus

Dear Crestone Community,

Please note that the Recycle Crestone T Road Drop Off Center will be closing for a brief time while it receives a thorough cleaning and a few upgrades (3-5  weeks). Thank you for your patience while we create a more efficient, user-friendly version that will not allow as much non-recyclable material to accumulate. I will post another letter in The Crestone Eagle when it is ready to open again. Thank you, Recycle Crestone.

Justin Love


Crestone kids need a new Moffat School

Dear Fellow Community Members,

I respectfully ask you to vote ‘YES’ on 3A to support the building of a new facility for the rapidly deteriorating Moffat School. You may wonder why you’d want to support a new facility for Moffat School when the Crestone Charter School just opened their new facility last year. Don’t all the kids in Crestone/Baca already have a new school? The answer is no they do not. The Crestone Charter School provides an alternative experiential-based curriculum to a restricted number of students. Therefore, not all of the students who wish to attend can enroll (and there has been a waiting list ever since the new school opened).

In addition, alternative experiential-based curriculum, while great for some students, may not meet the needs of others. These kids are served by Moffat School which offers a more standard curriculum. Currently, roughly half of the kids attending public school from Crestone/Baca attend the Charter School and the other half attend Moffat School. I believe that all of the amazing young people in our school district (which includes Crestone/Baca as well a significant portion of the valley floor) deserve a new school regardless of their educational preferences or their place on a waiting list. Please vote ‘YES’ on 3A and support ALL of our kids.


Krissy and Rocky Hedstrom

Proud parents of three of our amazing young people



Water rights in the SLV, a big problem that needs to be solved

by Virginia Sutherland, 

Saguache County rancher

Want superior and a #1 irrigation water right in the San  Luis Valley ?

Easy, just have a pump well. You will supersede all previous water rights, including surface (no matter how old), all artesian (no matter how old), all other wells (no matter how old). Because there are no rules to stop your pump!

Despite years of dawdling, the State Engineer of Colo, the Division 3 Engineer, the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, and the Colo Water Conservation Board (all of whom are supported by our taxes) have not got the intestinal fortitude to advocate and curtail pump wells.  In addition, some of the beer-supported and lettuce farmers condone weather modification, so as not to spoil the salad and brew! All together, the effect is to help the drought become even more catastrophic.

The grim reaper is already destroying the north end of a once-beautiful valley:  the trees are dead, the artesian wells are gone or failing, the native grasses are unable to survive, the mountain springs and creeks are all being sucked down into a diminishing water pit. Thousands of sheep are long gone, and hundreds of cattle are following. The once-flourishing meadows are sorry patches of tough wire grass; thousands of acres of once-good pasture land are turning to bare dirt. There are no longer ducks, once as thick as mosquitoes; other water fowl are long gone. Many people who once had jobs are living on welfare.  Now the forests are burning and the skies are full of smoke and dirt from formerly productive range lands and plowed ground awaiting seed and a sprinkler to feed precious water . . . for another cash crop!

Then some can fold up and go to Arizona or wherever to recreate, leaving livestock and wildlife to survive the winter.  Ranchers who can afford another year are buying vastly over-priced feed from those who pumped their water out from under their land!  Concurrently, the many weather modification programs west of the valley get the snow, while we just get the wind and cold, bleeding our last dollars to try and keep the livestock one more year!

Old-timers in this area remember previous droughts when the natural hydrology supported native vegetation, now barren ground.  Excessive pumping with no regard for depleting the aquifer in drought years has drained by gravity water from the mountains, whose geology creates long-term water storage.  Lush meadows and grasslands are now just memories.

I am old, but not quite senile, and I witnessed the drought of the 1930s.  We still had a water table, drain ditches, and strongly-flowing artesian wells. Native grasses, not dependent on surface irrigation, survived; but during a vicious winter thermometers broke at fifty below zero, and a foot of snow covered the summer’s growth.  These combined factors took a toll on our animals, as well as animals on farms around the valley which could not make a crop.  Similar conditions occurred in the 1950s, but we survived.

Then came the pump-well mania, and development of new brush-covered “trash” land for farming.  By this time all irrigation wells were registered, adjudicated, and had appropriation dates; this enabled groundwater management, adhering to Colorado’s statutes, recognizing the seniority of prior water rights. But, oh no! A previous state engineer, with no regard for law, tossed the priority regulations into the trash—so newcomers can pump away, injure and deplete surface rights and older wells, without rules and regulations.

So we are all equal . . . right?  Think again!  Now the guy with the pump can suck up all the water his pump can manage, effectively depleting and destroying the water table!  He can pump with no ability or requirement to replace any of the water he’s taken from the aquifer.

One sub-district has been created and all others are in limbo.  There is no evidence to date that the sub-district effort has begun to slow the aquifer’s downward spiral. But the state engineer is using the sub-district concept as a scapegoat for his refusal to promulgate rules and regulations for the San Luis Valley.


SLV ranchers travel to state capital to express their concerns about valley water use & abuse

 by Peggy GodfreyOver the past month a number of your ranching neighbors in northern Saguache County have written letters to the Water Resources Legislative Review Committee with our concerns about the unregulated pumping of groundwater, the destruction of ecosystems and landscape, as well as our diminishing aquifer.  Every other water division in Colorado has rules and regulations in place which fine-tune the Colorado statutes for the state engineer’s administration of groundwater pumping.  The recently published Headwaters Magazine (by Colorado Foundation for Water Education) features the San Luis Valley and our water crisis.  One of the articles is titled “Water in the Bank” referring to reservoirs up high in the watershed.  Aquifers and their sub-basins provide underground storage, another form of banking water, less likely to evaporate.  The mountains with their capacities to store water in cracks, crevices, soils, and in the San Juans to our west, the volcanic nature of the rocks.  It is these water banks that are being robbed or embezzled.  We’d like to see that stopped.As a result of our letters, we have been invited to the state capitol to discuss our issues with the legislative committee designated for water resources on September 26 regarding what we feel is the long-term lack of management of valley waters.  Many of us have written letters or spoken to appointed leaders of these governmental entities for years and have been ignored, dismissed as inaccurate, or bulldozed with the current opinions of those touting the “science” of political hydrology.  It is a very heavy-handed game being played by the “experts.”

Loss of habitat for waterfowl, wildlife, and  ranching neighbors with domestic livestock will likely result in sales of smaller tracts of land, lots of houses scattered across the landscape, more demand on county services.  Every house will have a well but will only be allowed domestic use, aquifer recharge will consist of septic system filtrate, and if you think government-held lands will stand up for your water rights, dream on.  Agency personnel may be sympathetic, but stand to be transferred or lose their jobs if they assert opinions publicly.  Keep in mind their government salaries and pensions are not at risk when conditions deteriorate on the landscape they manage.  Only private landholders live the risks and losses.

Letters can be sent in care of staffer David Beaujon to david.beaujon@state.co.us or snail mail to Colorado Legislative Council, Room 029  State Capitol, 200 E. Colfax Ave. Denver, CO 80203.  I would like a copy of your letter sent or forwarded to poetpeggy@gmail.com so that if you are unable to attend, those of us who go can represent your interests and concerns.