The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


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letters, opinions, editorials

Stereogram by Gary Priester

Stereogram, by Gary Priester. Can you “read” the hidden image? Relax your eyes and look “through” the image, not focusing on the foreground. Let your brain work the magic.

re: One-way frontage road? No way.

In response to Michael Sare’s “Gauntlet” letter [July 2007 Signpost] about getting the truck traffic redirected to the Algodones exit, it’s not possible, according to S.U. Mahesh, Public Liaison Officer for the state transportation office. It can’t happen because the frontage road is a state road which, by law, is open to all vehicles. Asked if it could be made one-way only, he said it can’t. When the same question was posed to one of the Louis Berger Group’s representatives who did the recent US 550 Connectivity Study, I was told that making all truck traffic use the Algodones exit would not be fair to the residents of Algodones. Calls to Jerry Trujillo at the District 3 State Department of Transportation have not been returned. Looks like there’s pretty much of a road-block on that idea.

—CHRIS HUBER, Placitas

re: soaked at the Placitas 4th of July Parade

What did you all think of this year’s parade? Kind of short, huh? The Placitas Fourth of July parade used to be one of the best I have ever seen! My groups loved participating in it. It was a wonderful experience and it was fun because Placitas used to be a proud community of polite, respectful people who supported children.

For over ten years, my dance teams, our Placitas Brownie Troop, and now our Rio Rancho Girl Scout Troops have participated. It had become a tradition. We looked forward to sharing candy, singing, etc. Spectators cheered the groups on, respecting all the hard work that goes into the decorations, and shouting words of encouragement and support, holding themselves to a higher standard. It was awesome!

Recently though, spectators and parade participants bring BIG SOAKERS and buckets of water. What probably began as little water guns operated by children (which could be tolerated as a prank) has grown to the big soakers operated by adults and children alike. Anything that moves (or not) is a fair target.
In 2005, one of my seven-year-old Brownie Girl Scouts was knocked off her chair on the float by an unexpected blast from a Big Soaker shot by an adult who laughed as she fell. She could have been injured badly had she tumbled off the float and gotten run over. Over the years, expensive equipment and decorations have been ruined by these blasts of water. Think about it. What if this was your child/loved one and he/she got hurt? What if it was your equipment/decorations that got ruined?

We did not participate this year. It was too big a risk to take. However, I attended and watched as people (mostly adults) soaked the parade participants (children, pets, nice vehicles and, yes, even vehicles that weren’t in the parade). A young participant screamed concern for her little dog as she and it were soaked. The adults shooting at them didn’t stop. Do you want to teach children that it’s okay not to respect other people or their property? What will it take to stop this dangerous behavior? Perhaps a fatality! This should be a celebration of our freedom, a time to honor troops who are putting their lives on the line for you and me.

CHALLENGE! Leave the Big Soakers and water buckets home. Let’s see if we can salvage this parade for future residents and your neighbors to enjoy!


re: Sandoval Broadband

I attended the Sandoval County Commission meeting tonight. Netlogix (yet another out-of-state contractor with no stake in the community), the firm hired by the County to evaluate the Broadband ‘project,’ reported the following:

They could only find equipment on about three towers (they saw five towers in total, one appeared to be working). Equipment is ‘low-end’ and not carrier-grade. Total value: maybe $1,000. That’s it, no other equipment anywhere. $2.6M spent so far, and taxpayers got about a thousand dollars of stuff—which does not work.

The consultants were asked what it would cost to ‘start over.’ They stated: To build just a ‘backbone’ network to Cuba would cost about $1.1M. This would not bring service to anyone. Two additional network layers would need to be built, the distribution layer and the access layer. They did not venture a guess as to what this might cost. Netlogix estimates it will cost $16,000 per month to maintain such a backbone.

Next came a Commission vote to develop an RFP to build such a backbone network. It was approved unanimously. But wait, there’s more—they voted to rob an education fund of $1M to pay for it! They voted on an extremely aggressive timeline to get the RFP out, and to give the bidders only eight days to respond.

By anyone’s standard of measure, the contractors on the ‘project’ committed complete and total fraud. Out of $2.6M or so, only about one thousand dollars of equipment can be found.
By anyone’s standard of measure, the County is guilty of absolute and utter negligence in presiding over the loss of this money.

So tonight, the Commissioners unanimously voted to spend another million to build just a backbone network which will not provide a single person with anything (remember, no plan for the distribution layer and the access layer). There is no plan (that has been publicly revealed) or budget to fund the build-out of the other layers.

Oh, by the way, Cuba and the Pueblo already have broadband access, I believe. The schools have T-1s. They are $2,800/month each. The County could buy the school in Cuba another T and the Pueblo another T (doubling their bandwidth) and pay for it for the next twelve years with the money they approved tonight to spend on a new contract ‘backbone’ project which provides nothing in and of itself!

Something is very wrong with the Commissioners, in my opinion. You don’t put five people together in a room and get them to unanimously decide on anything, much less a vote to continue a project that has failed by all accounts. The purpose of a governing body is that it will self-regulate and any one person’s agenda will be balanced by others. This is not the case here. The commissioners are acting as one unit, coming to these votes already pre-agreed to vote in unison.

Given the ongoing Auditor’s investigation, a prudent governing body would table such a project, say for six months until the smoke clears, then revisit it next year.

The population of Cuba is maybe six hundred, the population of the Pueblo maybe one thousand? Say two thousand folks are out there. It is reasonable and conservative to assume maybe ten percent of the population will actually use such a network, assuming it were to ever be built. So, we are looking at serving at best a few hundred souls with this $4 million backbone. You could run two buses a day, seven days a week to bring these people to the Bernalillo library to use the Internet there and you could run these buses for ten years with the $4 million.

The Commissioners are, in my humble opinion, acting irresponsibly at best, criminally at worst—failing in their fiduciary duty to protect taxpayer treasure. Normal democratic checks and balances have utterly failed due to collusion and human folly, or perhaps more sinister underlying causes. The Commissioners must be stopped by someone in state government and/or Sandoval County residents. It seems this huge windfall of Intel money was too tempting to leave alone.

Hector [State Auditor Balderas], help! This is, money-wise, one of the government’s biggest fraud, waste, and abuse stories to come to light in New Mexico since the Bernalillo Courthouse scandal. I call upon the masterminds at the County—Hays and possibly one or two Commissioners who dreamed up this bogus project—to immediately resign. Do yourself and your constituents a favor, instead of furthering the cover-up and furthering the financial loss, show some integrity and go away now. Do the right thing and make yourself accountable.


re: mindlessly wasting water?

While driving through Anasazi Trails at around 3:15 p.m. the other day, I noticed several long-throw sprinklers (the whirling kind that send a spray of water about ten to twenty feet) going full-blast at one of the newly completed homes. Even worse, the temperature was in the nineties, which means that most of that water will quickly evaporate. This is New Mexico, people! A desert. The average rainfall for Placitas is only about ten inches per year. This kind of thoughtless water waste is simply not appropriate for this area. Replace those long-throw sprinklers with a good drip system. Your plants (and your water-conscious neighbors) will be a lot happier.


re: pull over and let others pass

A man writes to the Signpost that he has a problem with what he perceives are tailgaters. I don’t know if I’ve ever been behind him, but I know his ilk: the globs of cholesterol clogging the main transportation artery of our community, insisting they are doing the speed limit when in fact, they are puttering along well below it. Speeding up slightly. Slowing down. Speeding up slightly. Slowing down. I’ve been the caboose on somebody’s power trip train many times. The letter writer proudly proclaims that when a “sixtyish woman” passed him, he “flipped her the bird and called her a bleeping bleep.” Wow, what a man to raise his middle finger erection to a “sixtyish woman.” I doubt he would have been that bold had he been passed by a car full of menacing gansta’ types, lest they whip out their stolen Glock and pop him. Then he is incredulous that he was flipped off for his speed-up-slow-down stunt by a woman in a minivan with a baby in a car seat. And he doesn’t see a trend?

I guess it never occurred to him that some people actually have more urgent things to do than creep up and down Highway 165 behind him. Maybe the “sixtyish woman” was hurrying home to a family emergency. Maybe she just had to pee. Perhaps the woman with the baby was rushing the child to the doctor.

Perhaps another tailgater was a physician rushing into Albuquerque to perform life-saving surgery. Maybe a husband was trying to get his pregnant wife to the hospital before she gave birth. Who knows? And who is he to judge?

The ridiculously low and changing speed limit on Highway 165 is more about keeping it a profit center for Sandoval County than safety. The sheriff’s deputies will be there to bust you for going three miles per hour over the speed limit but not to provide assistance if, say, you’re rushing a dying pet to the emergency animal hospital or trying to make it to the bedside of a critically-ill loved one. Clearly, it never dawned on the letter writer there actually are legitimate reasons to be in a hurry besides “expressing arrogance” and “being impatient and stupid.” Many of us know it can be an agonizingly long way into Albuquerque when you have a real emergency, particularly when there are clogs slowing traffic to a crawl, fearful their car might tip over if they hasten through the S-curves at anything over thirty-five.

Ironically, the tailgate complainer doesn’t recognize himself when he states that he is “reminded that, to some degree large or small, each human being thinks that he or she is the center of the universe.” So, I’ll aim your “simple plea” to “please cease all tailgating on Route 165” right back at you. If you keep having this problem, maybe, just maybe, it’s YOUR PROBLEM. So take responsibility for your problem by simply pulling over and letting others pass. It’s the courteous thing to do if you find driving over forty to be too terrifying. Rather than self-righteously anointing yourself as the traffic re-education specialist—which you clearly demonstrated that you believe you are from your lament: “she had learned nothing from the bird I had flipped her”—let law enforcement take care of traffic problems. They do a very overzealous job of it.


re: Another day of enchantment

To Friends Back East:
I’ve just received your very brief letter inquiring as to my status, i.e. “What’s new in the Land of Enchantment?”
Well, we still seek to make progress every day. Yesterday morning, for example, my spouse allowed me to construct the grocery list prior to my solo execution of the actual hands-on shopping process. She was taken aback, however, when I informed her I had seventy-three individual items on my list. She insisted on examining my creation, thereby threatening my always-fragile sense-of-self. But, I had to agree, it would have been a shorter, more manageable list had I not listed each bottle of water individually.

Yes, there is a tell-tale increase in our bottled water purchases and it has to do with the summer temperatures. Those same temperatures also drive us into the movie theaters with greater frequency, including yesterday afternoon following my four-hour solo shopping gig.

An interesting event occurred in that small, dark, wonderfully cool theater. A young man and his date—late high school or early college age—arrived late and took adjoining seats directly in front of us during a very quiet moment in the film. As the young man bent over, he produced approximately two-and-three-quarters seconds of a most regrettable and noxious bodily issuance. The accompanying sound, familiar to anyone over the age of one hour, was comparable to slightly muffled automatic weapon fire. Nobody could misidentify the event or its precise origins nor miss the downward trend in atmospheric quality. Snickers and gasps emanated from nearby patrons.

Then, desperately hoping to convince us that the sound was caused by the lowering of the seat, he said in a shaky, overly loud voice, “Gee, needs oil doesn’t it!” The snickers then turned to guffaws as the couple sat silent, rigid, unmoving—petroglyph-like. Had the lights been on, the young man’s face would surely have burned chile pepper red out of embarrassment for himself and his girlfriend who may never wish his company again. Need I tell you they had our sympathy?

But when things settled down, we witnessed the best part. The young lady shifted discreetly in her seat, leaning her shoulder so it lightly touched his. Then we saw her slowly take his hand, place it on the armrest and hold it in both of her own for a good long time. An enchanting performance, we thought, and apparently a happy ending.

Eliminating automatic, non-thinking, knee-jerk, fearful, angry, stubborn ego-based behavior can lead to an endless number of happy endings for one and all if only we could master it. Not many can, although our cat Patrick did so at birth.

Happy trails, Amigos.
—YOUR FRIEND, HERB, Placitas, New Mexico


Got Ethics?

Our future here in New Mexico will hang on what we do now. Never before in history has it been so obvious we must plan and work hard at meeting the challenge that stares us in the face. Climate change has arrived, and is most likely to be, according to Dr. David Gutzler, Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UNM, about twice the effects here as elsewhere. Our snowpacks, which we now depend on for most of our water for use, are likely to disappear in all but the highest ranges. This could mean drastically less water available for us. History does not favor us, as few civilizations have survived that suddenly faced major resource problems. Even when warnings were evident, the inexorable impulse of society snuffing out any recognition that there might be a problem, kept people oblivious until it was too late. Is there anything we can do to give people a chance to save our water and the future?

The Middle Rio Grande Water Assembly, a citizen volunteer group founded to draft a water plan for the region, has been grappling with how to ensure a water supply into the future. A daunting, difficult, task, for sure, but one that attracts a lot of energy, dedication, enthusiasm, hope, optimism, debate, research, inquiry, study, discourse, and of course, lots of argument. We have a Plan, and most of it has been approved by all of the entities that adopt such things. Some of us complain the child has not been so welcomed as hoped in these chambers of local government, but to have come this far is no small accomplishment. This was one endeavor where all disparate entities in the region came together and had it out, for once. Some left, without any water for their ambitions, and some have made it their life’s reason for existence. The Plan will not, in itself, solve our water problems, but is a very necessary first step.

Lately, we have been very frustrated by inaction, and negative action, that does not comply with the Plan, and continues a very self-destructive pattern that has marked the rapid urbanization of our region. Whatever we do, it doesn’t get much traction. The Plan was written by as diverse a group as could be assembled and had full and open public input. Unfortunately, it has been put on the shelf of local government to keep good company with all the regional plans of the past, the “ignore this” shelf. Why? It’s because we have hit a wall in our odyssey to save ourselves from ourselves. What to call this wall could be the subject of a contest, but “ethics” lies just on the other side. Ethics is the ingredient that makes the recipe work, and there’s little to buy and transfer. There’s such a paucity of recognized ethics out there, we are going to have to find our own.

In truth, most of us retain a good sense of ethics internally. Since we haven’t done much public discourse on the subject lately, they aren’t so well defined and plugged in, but they are there, healthy and waiting for attention. Ethics are, after all, what is right, and what is wrong, and what doesn’t apply to either. The mission of the Middle Rio Grande Water Plan is to “balance use with renewable supply.” This is an ethic. Doing otherwise is wrong, and doing so is right. Not leaving a healthy water resource for future generations is wrong, and leaving them the gift of clean and sufficient water will get us into heaven, if there is one. That was easy, right? Well, the story of humanity is we don’t often go beyond what’s easy. And, doing the right thing is very scary and threatening to a lot of people. Those that are scared of not making a lot of money are the most terrified and most likely to act out on their fears, snuffing out any recognition there is a problem. The politicians, terrified of not receiving campaign funds from those terrified, endlessly offer the non-ethic of growth as our salvation. Most of us are busy and don’t pay attention, and the water resource bears further abuse.

Someday soon, we won’t be too busy to pay attention, maybe all our attention, to the problem of sustainable water resource management, as it will be for all resources. The ethic will be one of devoted stewardship. Stewardship has two sides. A resource must be nurtured. And, restraint towards it must be shown. Nurturing is instinctual, and lots of water resource nurturing is going on. New Mexicans are uniquely blessed that there are people here whose ancestors were taking care of the water thousands of years ago and we have the distillation of just as many thousands of years of water management throughout western civilization’s history in our acequias. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, only to look to and understand the priceless wisdom of our inheritance as New Mexicans to learn how to take care of our water.

Restraint is more difficult to realize from ethics. We usually look to the law for restraint. Many find restraint a virtue in their faith. But restraint that comes from within and from the self, and is part of stewardship, well, that is nearly a lost art. To quote economic philosopher John McClaughry, there is “a need for some limiting principle, to enable a society at some point to legitimately say ‘enough!’” These principles exist and are well employed in New Mexico, we only need to find them and use them when making decisions over our water. We have to develop a sense of right and wrong over water use, and not only be concerned with whether we use it or not. We need to develop a better regard for each other, and realize we all depend on each other, so we can take care of our world, together. In the future, economics will not enter into water resource stewardship. We will do it as we breathe air, grateful there is water to take care of, and air to breathe. New Mexicans have always prided themselves in the ability to make comfortable lives out of little. We are the richer for it. If we do what is right for the water, perhaps we will win back some of the lost grace and serenity New Mexicans used to possess in abundance.

Signpost Cartoon, c. Rudi Klimpert
Water does move uphill toward money

Now that I'm out of college, I thought it was time to ask my elders for advice about investing in the stock market. They must have seen how confused I looked, because a week later, an investment letter arrived that promised to answer all my questions, and, incidentally, make me rich, fast.

The letter featured a Nevada water company that's guaranteeing to make millions by pumping rural water to Las Vegas. The identity of the water company was not disclosed; to get the real skinny, I had to pay $49.50 to the creators of the newsletter. That's more money than I wanted to spend, but as I read the newsletter, a novel idea occurred to me: Just as the people who got rich during the Gold Rush were merchants, the people getting rich from Nevada's water deals won't be small-time investors but those who enable them. That led me to comb through the newsletter to decipher what made it tick, and I'm happy to share with you—for free!—the gist of what I learned:

• This may come as no surprise, but many of us are greedy. The Nevada water come-on promises that investors will "pocket 381 percent in the short run." This may sound too good to be true, but people want to believe.

• All of us are bored. Create excitement about your investment by making it seem dangerous. The Nevada water solicitation does this perfectly by telling potential investors that tensions in rural Nevada are so high, "ranchers are toting rifles." The image of gun-toting ranchers reminds people of the Wild West, a region practically built by speculators. Reporting that the Arizona Republic "calls it a classic Western showdown" will make the historical connection clear, and since no one knows what "it" is, they can't prove you've misquoted anything.

• Investors yearn to feel smart. Play up the secrecy surrounding the deal by telling your readers that they're part of an elite group that includes politicians and executives. Include quotations from well-respected publications to create an air of authority, which then allows you to be vague on details like dates and names. Another tactic is to choose words that sound like they're part of a lexicon. Examples include like "a mountain of cash hitting the books" and referring to Wall Street as simply "The Street." Your readers will feel so smart they won't bother to double-check the information you do give them.

• Nobody wants to know the downsides. The creators of the water investment guide never once mention the birds, fish and other animals whose habitat is threatened by groundwater pumping, or the rural areas that will dry up and blow away. They tell us that Nevada is one of the driest places on earth, but only so that we understand that water is valuable. They also mention that "city planners are fighting to quench the growing population," but notice how cleverly this is written: Are the city planners trying to control growth or enable it? It's fine to create ambiguities, as your audience will interpret them however it desires.

• Most of us feel helpless. Make the deal seem like it's inevitable, and you will encourage this sensation of helplessness, which most people feel anyway when faced with environmental catastrophes. The water come-on includes water-transfer permit numbers, reassures us that all environmental impact plans have been approved, and guarantees that all the wells and infrastructure for transferring the water are already in place. It even quotes a county engineer's office on the progress of the pipeline (although it doesn't bother to specify which county, (see principles #3 and #4). This final principle is designed to win over anyone who suspects that pumping water from rural Nevada to fill suburban swimming pools is a terrible scheme; not worth supporting financially. The goal is to get them to figure that since they can't stop it, they might as well benefit from it. (This ties in nicely with Principle #1; People are greedy.)
I was so inspired by this get-rich-quick scheme that I've written my own book, "How to Turn Catastrophe into Cash," which will provide you with all the information you need to make big bucks during drought, hurricanes, floods and the global climate change that's predicted to cause deadly heat waves throughout the West. Don't be a victim; exploit what's coming! Mail me a check for $19.99, and get started getting rich.

Lissa James is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News ( She waits to get rich while working on her family's oyster farm in Lilliwaup, Washington.

Living in Hominy, by Leichner
Heard around the West


Would you stop your car at a clearly marked crosswalk if Santa Claus were strolling across the street? Would you even slow down or get off your cell phone to gawk at a walking gorilla? The University of New Mexico wanted to investigate pedestrian safety at crosswalks in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Gallup and Las Cruces, and got federal funding to test drivers with scenarios just like these. Well, abysmal doesn’t begin to describe the driving habits of folks in those four cities, reports the Denver Post. “People drove right by Santa Claus,” said Las Cruces police officer Chris Miller. “We had people say they saw the gorilla trying to cross the street, but they didn’t think they had to stop for him.” In Santa Fe, police tried to be explicit, placing orange cones well ahead of crosswalks and posting signs that warned of a safety crackdown. Nobody stopped. “The first few times they went right by me, I couldn’t believe it,” said police officer Anthony Rivera, who was dressed in plainclothes as he tried to cross the street. Las Cruces officer Kiri Daines found that even when she dressed up as Spider-Man, “I literally had to tap on the hoods of cars as they stopped an inch away from me. I’m in the intersection, and they’re almost running over me.” Hundreds of scofflaws were nailed with $51 tickets, but it’s an open question whether fines have any impact on drivers determined to keep moving.

Some residents of one of the more expensive ZIP codes in Phoenix have alarmed homeowners with their “brazen” behavior, reports the Arizona Republic. Coyotes are the interlopers, and one was so ill-mannered it grabbed a leashed bichon frise by the neck and tried to run off with it. Luckily, Lexy, short for Lexus, was saved by its owner, who yanked the little dog free. But the shameless coyote held its ground, said the owner. “He would not budge. It was like I was infringing on his territory.” That’s actually the truth, since the Biltmore area of Phoenix has expanded onto turf that was once the exclusive domain of wildlife. Darren Julian, an urban wildlife specialist with the state Game and Fish Department, considers coyotes invading Biltmore the “ultimate opportunists.” His advice: Feed pets indoors. Keep garbage in cans. “Don’t allow these animals to become comfortable in the human arena,” he says. “Be rude to them. Yell. Throw rocks.”

Timothy Egan pointed out in a recent New York Times op-ed that the two creators of every American’s birthright—our 565 million acres of public lands—were privileged men with democratic convictions: They wanted everyone in the country to share in its wealth of natural beauty. The two men, who were friends, were also manly to the max: Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the Forest Service, had his valet wake him up each day with a splash of cold water to the face; President Theodore Roosevelt, who created the federal agency, considered it bracing to swim naked in the Potomac River. We may still own our birth- right, Egan said, but the public-lands legacy of George W. Bush has been a tawdry “cash-out” that leaves wildlife refuges without staff and national forests like slums: “Roosevelt had his place on Oyster Bay. Pinchot had a family estate in Pennsylvania. Bush has the ranch in Crawford. Only one of them has never been able to see beyond the front porch.”

Outdoor writer Jim Zumbo really messed up when he posted a hostile blog entry about the increasingly popular black matte semiautomatic guns. He called the AR-15s “terrorist rifles” and said they ought to be banned from hunting. The result: Zumbo was “terminated,” as he told the New York Times, from the magazine he worked for, Outdoor Life, and his cable TV show lost sponsors and went off the air. But Zumbo was game to learn more about the lethal-looking assault weapons, so he accepted an invitation from rocker and gun-lover Ted Nugent to visit him in Waco, Texas. Nugent owns dozens of the weapons and insists there’s nobody “who doesn’t have two in his truck.” Zumbo found that the assault rifle was certainly versatile: It can be easily accessorized by adding a grenade launcher, flash suppressor, pistol grip, detachable magazine and bayonet mount, among other expensive military doodads. “Chastened” by the outcry over his blog posting, Zumbo says he came away from his time with Nugent believing that, like it or not, “black rifles are now mainstream.”

Let’s hope the gun owners stay calm: The small town of Olathe, in western Colorado, sports its share of rusting vehicles and other junk, which spurred community-minded people to propose a town-wide cleanup. Lots of people supported the idea, convenience store owner Pam Bernhartdt told the Montrose Daily Press. “But then you have the other half that are the ones that need to be cleaned up that are one step away from bearing guns to their backyard.”

College crasher Azia Kim, 18, fooled not only Stanford University into thinking she was a bona fide student for eight months, she also fooled the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at Santa Clara University. Kim took military science classes there and earned pretty decent grades on tests given in class. She also provided her teachers a fake transcript from Stanford that showed grades so high they earned her “a special ribbon for her uniform,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

News releases go forth into the void, and politicians often wish they didn’t. After Colorado Senatore Wayne Allard, R, introduced a resolution designating Sept. 25 as National First Responder Appreciation Day; someone on his staff sent out a press release explaining his motivation: “First responders in Colorado have recently provided critical services in the face of blizzards and tornados. Since I don’t think first responders have really done anything significant in comparison to their counterparts who have dealt with real natural disasters, I have no idea what to say here.” In a quasi-apology sent out later, Allard said, “Please pardon my typo.”

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado ( Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the West.



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