Dear friends

  • Theodore Smith of the Kendall Foundation with HCN interns

    Cindy Wehling
  • Steve Hinchman and Deborah Weis with Tess, left, and Abby

    Ed Marston

Heaven-o ... Kissy lives!

Stories here and elsewhere about a south Texas county that decided its employees should answer the phone with a spritely "HEAVEN-O" were tough on those who picked up the phone. It rang a lot. We were among those who called Kleberg County to see how the anti-HELLo greeting was going, and staffer Tina Morin told us that heaven-o was really a voluntary greeting because "commissioners just supported the effort to coin the word." As for Morin, she answered the phone with a cheery "administrative assistant."

From reader Jasmine Star who runs the Mazama Lodge on the southern slopes of Oregon's Mount Hood, we now know the final act in the drama of Kissy the cat, lost during the state's torrential flooding. Her owner saved herself by determined yodeling, which attracted a rescuer, and now we know Kissy survived her encounter with swirling floodwaters too, even though she fell off her owner's head and into the water (HCN, 2/20/97: Heard around the West). When Kissy's human companions returned to the site where she was last seen, reader Star tells us, they found the animal "bedraggled and forlorn, issuing forth her own plaintive feline yodeling."

Odds and ends

This is our first "author's query," but we're glad to help a reader who is a distinguished writer. For a biography of the novelist, historian and conservationist Wallace Stegner, 1909-1993, T. H. Watkins would appreciate hearing from anyone with correspondence and memories they are willing to share. He can be reached at: 2226 Decatur Place NW, Washington, DC 20008.

The grand prize is said to be $1,000, so we pass on this tidbit from "the bards of (beautiful downtown) Burbank': Their fourth annual poetry contest offers 28 prizes totaling $2,898.75 and rules are simple: Send one poem, on any subject in any style, 21 lines or less, to Bards of Burbank, 2219 W Olive Ave., Suite 250, Burbank, CA 91506 (213/462-8908).

Thanks to reader Paul Lorah at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota for sharing a summary of his geography dissertation on the New West economy. We noted this aromatic quote just before the conclusion: "Here, when the prairie winds blow right, you can smell fresh carpet glue evaporating from new subdivisions."

Congratulations to writer Anastasia Hobbet, a former resident of Casper, Wyo., and High Country News freelancer from the 1970s, on her novel, Pleasure of Believing. The central character is a wildlife rehabilitator whose skill with animals is matched only by her environmental zeal. Yet the book is anything but a knee-jerk treatment of a ranching culture in transition. The novel emerges April 1 from Soho Press.

America On Line has been experiencing difficulties lately, so to simplify our lives we recently closed our AOL account. Please strike [email protected] and substitute: [email protected] or [email protected] More personalized addresses are listed on the masthead on this page.

Visitors are few during this occasionally dreary winter, so we were especially glad to welcome Janette Chiron, a park ranger in Alaska, and Eric Bindseil, a biologist from Washington state. He was visiting his brother in Snowmass, Colo., and Chiron had just finished an emergency medical technician class in nearby Pitkin County.

From nearer by came newborn twins Tess and Abby, along with their proud and somewhat exhausted parents, Debbie Weis and former HCN staff reporter Steve Hinchman. The babies never made a peep.

We also spent some time with two Paonia students, Chad Barnash, an 8th grader, and Clint Towles, a 7th grader, who were researching the issue of grazing cattle on public land.

We spent a happy day with Theodore Smith, a staffer with the Kendall Foundation, whose generosity has allowed the paper's intern program and rental house - aka "Intern Acres" - to flourish.

We were saddened to hear of the death of Len Sargent, 84, in Bozeman, Mont. He and his wife, Sandy, were the bulwark of several environmental organizations in the West, and his wisdom will be missed.

Changes on the board

At the recent HCN board meeting in Socorro, N.M., there was a changing of the guard. The nine members attending - Michael Ehlers, Farwell Smith, Dan Luecke, Suzanne Van Gytenbeek, Luis Torres, Tom Huerkamp, Andy Wiessner, Maria Mondragon-Valdez and Tom France - elected four new board members. They are Caroline Byrd of Lander, Wyo., an attorney with the Wyoming Outdoor Council and a former HCN intern; Bill Mitchell of Seattle, Wash., a consultant to foundations; Karl Hess Jr. of Las Cruces, N.M., a writer; and Rick Swanson of Flagstaff, Ariz., a city councilman and marketing associate with W.L. Gore.

The new members replace Michael Ehlers, Doc Hatfield, Judy Jacobsen, Victoria Bomberry and Geoff O'Gara. The dean of this departing group is Ehlers, who has been on the board since 1988, and who has attended almost every meeting during those years. Geoff O'Gara is a relatively recent member, but his HCN connection dates back to 1979-1981, when he was HCN editor in Lander, Wyo.

For those who have never attended an HCN potluck, we invite you to the next get-together in Paonia on Saturday evening, May 31. Stick around until Sunday and we'll take you up nearby Mount Lamborn, which is climbable at some 11,000 feet even when other mountains are still deep in snow.

*Betsy Marston for the staff

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