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An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

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Peer Counselors Sought for Sandoval County


Want to spend your time in a quality fashion? If your heart calls you to help other elders, join in a transformative process yourself, and make new friends, then Sandoval Senior Connection may be the program for you. Our service area is Sandoval County, and we look for seniors ages 55 and older to visit with others their same age. We begin another 21-hour training session this spring, with the start date of March 25. Training sessions are held at different sites in Sandoval County on Tuesday or Friday afternoons ending late April.

Volunteer peer counselors are usually assigned one client to visit on a weekly basis. We assist with issues such as stress, depression, loneliness, health problems, and lifestyle changes. We have significant impact upon a person’s life. The power of active listening is not to be underestimated.

With certificate in hand, time to spare, and care for the elders in your heart, you can join our quality and fun team. If visits to elders aren’t your cup of tea, volunteers may also be utilized in speaking at senior centers, or organizing storytelling groups, or helping with administrative tasks. We ask for a commitment of two to three hours per week after graduation.

A no-obligation informational luncheon for prospective volunteers will be held March 17, at 12 p.m., at a location in Rio Rancho, free of charge. Call Cindy Anderson at 243-2551 or Samantha Apodaca at 892-4431 for more information on the training, the program, or the luncheon.

Heard around the West


Face it, writes columnist Robert Kirby in the Salt Lake Tribune, when it comes to religion, just about everybody believes in weird stuff. Take Republican presidential candidate and Baptist minister Mike Huckabee, who needled Mormons by provocatively asking, “Don’t Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil were brothers?” As a Mormon, Kirby said, “I wasn’t bothered because, well, it’s true.” What may be stranger than the thought of Satan and Jesus as siblings, Kirby added, is the belief that “the real god is a shape-shifting entity, born of a virgin, who cured blindness with spit … a god you periodically honor by ritualistically eating him so that he won’t kill you when he comes back.” One of the ironies of religion, Kirby added, is that logic applies to every religion “but yours.”

According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau findings, 42,800 commuters in Arizona spend three hours or more on the road every weekday. These are the folks considered “extreme commuters,” and the Arizona Republic asked several of them why they do it and how they survive long commutes made even more tedious by construction delays. Several workers shuttling between Tucson and Phoenix cited the benefits of extra income and a better lifestyle: “Tucson is a nicer place to live, but you can earn more money working in the Phoenix area.” But because the trip is notable for its lack of scenery and boredom, drivers work hard to distract themselves. Some watch other drivers doing stupid things, while others listen to music or books or talk on the phone. Doug Jones, for instance, listens to professional-enrichment tapes and proudly notes he’s “becoming much more intelligent.”

A suspected drunken driver may not have been wearing a seatbelt when he crashed into a tree at 60 miles per hour, the Sacramento Bee reports. But his 12-pack certainly was. The driver suffered serious injuries to his head and body, police said. The beer, nicely strapped into the seat next to him, was fine.

At a Forest Service meeting in Darby, Montana, cursing with the “F word” was more common than kicking, as supporters of motorized recreation protested the updating of a 38-year-old travel management plan. More than 200 people packed the too-small room, and according to Friends of the Bitterroot president Jim Miller, “It was the ugliest meeting I’ve ever been to. It was ugly and sad.” If you didn’t support fun in the forests on a vehicle with an engine, it was also intimidating. When one woman tried to make a comment in favor of wilderness, a man in the crowd said: “Put a bullet in her head.” Afterward, an agency spokeswoman assured the Missoulian that she would follow up on the threat. The Forest Service decided to cancel its next public meeting, set for Stevensville, after the raucous Darby gathering; the agency intends to complete a draft environmental impact statement by August.

Which is better for the environment: a stand of redwood trees or an array of solar panels? Both seem “green,” so why should you have to choose? Well, a little-known California law passed in 1978 did choose—selecting solar panels and imposing a possible fine of $1,000 a day for tree-owners found guilty of obscuring them. A squabble between homeowners in Santa Clara County is now putting that law to the test, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett, who consider themselves environmentalists, refuse to cut down eight redwoods that they planted for privacy between 1997-’99. Their neighbor, Mark Vargas, who also considers himself an environmentalist, sued the couple under the Solar Shade Control Act because their redwoods reduced the output of his 10-kilowatt solar system. Before he put up the solar panels in 2001, he said, “I offered to pay for the removal of the trees. I said, ‘Let’s try to work something out.’ They said no to everything.” Vargas has the law on his side, because it applies to trees planted after 1979 that later grow big enough to shade solar panels. In December, Vargas won his case in county court, but his neighbors, who say they’ve already spent $25,000 on legal fees, appealed the ruling, even though the judge waived the fines and offered to let them keep six of the offending trees. “We could be done with this and walk away,” Bissett said. “But this could start happening in every city in the state.” For his part, Vargas said he’d move his solar panels if he could, but there’s not enough room on his roof.

Knotty questions about environmental correctness didn’t figure into Patricia Vincent’s thinking when she had three ponderosa pines—each close to a century old—chopped down on publicly owned land near Lake Tahoe. The trees’ offense: They blocked her view of the lake. Vincent has been indicted on charges of stealing government property from environmentally sensitive land, and if convicted, reports The Associated Press, she could face up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 or more in fines.

Jim Stiles, publisher of the Canyon Country Zephyr in Moab, has been calledcynical, chronically ticked off, dour and—more kindly perhaps—curmudgeonly. He is greatly annoyed by the Lycra-clad bicyclists that invade his part of the world, and he’d like the rip-’em-up crowd of ATV and four-wheel-drivers to take a hike. But he’s not always in a bad mood. This winter, in fact, he asked his readers to share some of their “perfect moments.” Not surprisingly, Stiles’ readers tend to leaven their wonder and joy with quirkiness, and Devin Vaughan of Moab was no exception. He told about driving through a southern Utah thunderstorm so torrential that he was forced off the road. As he sat out the downpour in his car, thunder and the lightning strikes that followed became “a steady call and response,” and then he heard “a sound like bacon frying … or maybe the sky was made of canvas..., and God was tearing the sky apart.” There was a blinding flash and a terrific kick in the chest that left him laughing and grinning like an idiot, he says, except maybe he’d peed his pants a little. It was, he says, a perfect moment.

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (





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